Tag Archives: fear

Father’s Day

Father’s Day has come and gone. For those of you with strong paternal relationships I hope the holiday was rewarding on all sides. For those with strained relationships, I hope the day passed without incident. If the day provoked sadness, anger, or confusion I hope the events of the holiday gave you something to think about, something you can use to grow.

Often, that is the best we can hope for in our father-child relationships. Unlike mothers, who get all the best press, fathers are a complicated breed. The best devote themselves to their families, work hard to provide a safe environment. They listen to their children and their children’s mother. They are proud of their children’s achievements, no matter how small. They are understanding, patient, and compassionate. They are strong, decent men.

So far, I haven’t described a single father I know. Most of the men I know with children are human beings with the same faults as everyone else. They are often impatient, tired after work and need more quiet time than most families allow. They argue and about money, school, work, food, friends, TV and computer time-you name it, families argue about it. Sound familiar? So forget the movie Dad I described. Look at the human being your father really is. If you’re lucky, he’s just that, a regular human being. A guy with kids who did the best he could.

If you aren’t lucky, like me, then you got one of those fathers who should have been stripped of his title before you reached the age of cognizance. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that kind of society. People are allowed to have children if they have the physical ability to reproduce. So if you were unlucky enough to have lived through a childhood filled with fear and abuse, know that you are not alone. But your life as an adult does not have to center itself on reliving the traumas of your childhood. In the past few years, as I’ve lost everything, I’ve also lost the need to understand every single thing about my parents.

For a long time, I believed if I could figure out why they behaved as they did, I could modify my own behaviors and lose the painful baggage of my memories and fears. I spent a lot of time with my mother before she died and realized she was simply a frightened little girl. Scared of my father and life in general. She wasn’t prepared for anything that happened to her and like a child, tried to hide. She hid behind us and her religion. I forgave her everything before she died, and we parted friends. I loved so much about her, and even more once I realized she couldn’t have done anything differently because she didn’t have the tools.

My father was a complex person, riddled and driven by demons. I’ve been trying to identify those demons for some time. There are so many-addiction, rage, narcissism, fear, multiple anxieties-that I will never untangle them all. He was a raging beast one day and bringing us presents the next. I have never seen anyone so capable of casual cruelty (he shot my best friend’s dog while he made me watch) and such tenderness (he brought home lost kittens or puppies for us.)

I was afraid of him and I hated him. The three most intense, important relationships in my life show the men to be almost mirror images of him. Each time I realized that (to my repeated horror) I ended the relationships. I would not live my mother’s life.

So, every Father’s Day I think of the complicated man that I hated. I can’t say I ever loved him, though surely as a child I must have. We love to survive. I never silently hoped for his approval or attention. Good grief, in my house the less attention Daddy paid to you the better off you were. When I saw my best friend going off fishing with her father I shuddered. Why would she do that? I wondered.
As an adult, I’ve watched other women doing things with their fathers and wondered what it must be like to want to spend time with him. I’ve heard women talking about their dads and wondered what that must be like. Then again, I’ve always wondered what it must be like to be in a relationship with someone you love, who loves you back. I’ve felt it briefly, before it devolved into the truth. And I know, now, that I will likely never be involved with someone that I trust, like, admire, or really love. I didn’t get that as a child and I don’t think I have the DNA now. I don’t know how to do it. Thanks, Dad.

No, I’m not bitter, not really. I’m pragmatic. It is what it is. I never learned the love skill, not for intimate relationships. I can be a great friend, aunt, coworker-but not lover or parent. I’m never going to be tall either, so there it is.

So I hope Father’s day reminded you of your profound luck if he was strong and taught you positive life skills. If it was another reminder of what you didn’t get, let it go. You can do that, you can let it go. If you do that, you will be in control, not him. He’s never going to be the father you should have had. OK. Let it go. Like I said, I’m never going to be tall so I keep a stool in the kitchen. It is what it is. Go with it.

Advertisements

The Question

An exploration of personal fear.

______________________________________________

You must choose the one thing you can’t live without, the Universe whispered in my sleeping mind.

One thing? I answered. How can it be one thing? Should I hold out my hands and name them? They hold the pencil, the brush, the needle, the knife that make my art. How could I bear to make no art?

You could learn to manipulate different tools, explore new mediums that require a different dexterity, the Universe mused.

Right, I answered, but what if I say my vision? How could I bear to live without color? without looking into the eyes of those that see inside me, my truest friends? How could I give up my sight?

You would still see all the colors in your mind, your memory. You could feel the warmth of your friends’ love even before they speak. You know what is behind their gaze just as they know what is behind yours.

My ears? To never hear the ocean’s songs, the soft brush of the breeze, a blue jay calling, laughter, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, my name whispered by a lover. No, I couldn’t.

Again – all those experiences are rooted in your memory, to call up and enjoy as you please.

Oh, no – not my memory- you wouldn’t take that. I would have nothing, no soul, no joy, no purpose.

You have named it, the Universe chuckled, but I don’t believe you know it true yet.

I felt the indigo blanket soft and warm and gently crushing colors blurred and ran to a brown sameness, echos of voices and laughter rose and fell until there was no meaning, until finally there was nothing, a velvet void.

I floated. A softness, like a whisper, wrapped around my throat.

“Who are you?” I asked.

The whisper faded, sliding down my throat, over my heart and I felt it move away, its echo growing fainter.

“What?”

new poems

FRIEND

There is no crueler arena

than Childhood.

My attempt to help my friend

left me as far on the

outside as she was.

She lost control

of her bowels at school,

one of the greatest fears

of Childhood,

exposing

some weakness,

knowing the predators

at the edge of the herd

would pick us off.

I helped her out of the

great laughing crowd

in the schoolyard

and stayed with her in

the sickly green vastness

of the bathroom.

I stood outside the stall

where she cried,

passing wet paper towels

under the door.

Somewhere between

the dust and dirt

of recess

and the cold echoing sobs,

small, fierce vows

leaped the chasm between

her head and mine.

I lived afterward with

the horror of my secret,

would there ever be

anyone to sit with

me in the

cold green bathroom,

and risk

Eternity on the Outside?

======     =-=-=-

DRIVING

I checked the oil,

the air in almost-new tires.

My gas gauge pushed the F

and my windows sparkled.

The passenger seat held

an assortment of books on tape

and a notebook .

Backing down the drive I

breathed in the moist

air of dawn and

smiled at the wake-up

songs of cardinals.

I drove down the highway

that connects my house

to the house 100 miles away,

hoping, again, I will

find the person I lost

So long ago.

If I pack more carefully,

drive slower or faster

maybe I can find

that bend in the road

that takes me back.

When she still breathed

the same clammy air

at five in the morning

that I breathe now.

Breathing and talking and laughing

maybe if I time it just right,

I can reach her

before she’s gone

and ask her the questions

that propel me out the door,

and down the highway

over and over again.