Father’s Day, though it’s already passed us for the year, is a day that makes me quite uncomfortable. Although I am a father myself, and I do appreciate the thoughts, words, and gifts bestowed upon me that day, it’s not myself as a father that makes me feel that way. I try to do my best for my daughter, and where others see a “great father,” I can only see my own shortcomings. We all strive to be the best that we can be for our kids, and do our best to nurture, and guide them into becoming adults, but most importantly ensure they are loved unconditionally no matter their stage in life. It’s only through love that they can grow to their fullest. However, that is a discussion for another time. With Father’s Day, I’m reminded of the baggage I carry. I’m reminded of the things I’ve done. I’m reminded that I am still unforgiven.
I grew up with both parents who loved me. Even though my family didn’t have much money, I knew I was loved because they showed it. Then came the teenage years, where I started acting up like almost any teen. However, for reasons I still can’t seem to put my finger on, I was angry. Very angry. I don’t remember how it all started, or what may have kicked it off, but I had my spats with my dad getting disciplined in the process. The more I was disciplined, the angrier I got, thus continuing a destructive cycle.
Shattered glass on the floor;
There’s the door;
Open mouthed with
A defiant roar.
It only became worse with time, as I became increasingly defiant. Many might say that it is just a natural part of being a teenager, as we all go through a similar stage in those years. Sometime during my early high school years, I was diagnosed with depression and put on medication. At first it seemed to help, but I later discovered that medication was not the answer for me. I became increasingly violent, to the point where I was taken away one night. If not for the medication and self-inflicted wounds on my body, I would have been incarcerated rather than hospitalized. I had hurt both of my parents more than ever, and I know they still carry the scars from that night. What still haunts me to this day is how close I came to completely destroying my family.
Flashes of red;
Blood and tears flow as I cried in bed.
What did I do?
Taken in the night with dancing lights of red and blue.
I would not see
The thing I had become, as I looked at the monster looking at me.
My parents visited me during my “stay away from home,” and it was clear they were shaken, yet continued to want the best for me. They still loved me and sought additional help for me. When I returned home some time later, there was an uneasy peace. At least in my head it felt that way. I was also pulled from my school and sent elsewhere for about a year. Though it seemed things were gradually starting to get better, they would never be the same. Of course, I still continued to give not only my parents, but my siblings a hard time. Then one night, I shattered my family again.
The crack of bone.
A Kingless throne.
The deeds that night,
etched in stone.
When my dad came back from the hospital, I could not look him in the eyes. What I did was unforgivable. Even then, he still saw me as his son. He even went as far as to take me along with my brother and some cousins to see a big movie on opening night later that month. As excited as I was for this movie, shame hovered over me like an endless cloud. People could see what I had done, and though they didn’t know it was me, I did. To this day, I cannot forget his face.
My parents couldn’t be more deserving of a better son, but instead they got me. Someone who ravaged the family numerous times, and put them through extreme emotional and sometimes physical pain. The connection is clear that because of my actions, they affected my younger siblings as well in a such a way which has left them “traumatized,” as my mom had put it. Not only did I hurt my parents, but I was a bad role model and set a very poor example of how a big brother should be for my siblings, effectively being someone they feared rather than someone they could look up to.
The thing is, even though I repeatedly put my parents through hell, they are still there for me to this day. When I look at my daughter, I can see why that is whereas I didn’t before. That goes for most of us with children, but there has to be a line drawn at some point as to what is beyond unacceptable behavior. I’ve crossed that line too many times, yet my parents have continued to show me their generosity, kindness, and love throughout the years since the events I’ve mentioned and those I haven’t. They have forgiven me for what I’ve done, but I have not.
I’ve created a wound within myself that grew every time I hurt them. A gaping wound which is endlessly bleeding with the stench of my own blood that permeates the air I breathe making me nauseous and sick. How can I say I love them when I’ve shown nothing but hostility? How can I allow myself to make even the slightest skin contact knowing what my prior contact resulted in? How can I ever repay the damage I have done as the scars I’ve left can never be erased? Happy Mother’s Day. Happy Father’s Day. I’m sorry I almost killed you both. That makes a great card, don’t you think? Although Mother’s Day has gotten easier for me, Father’s Day is still one I struggle with. I still see what I did to him, the image burned into my memory for all eternity, reminding me of my shame that burns brighter than the sun. How clever, I am the son. But I am not the light. I am the wound. I’ve kept myself at a distance for years now as I feel that I am undeserving, and though I do love them, I don’t know how to say or show it. They may have forgiven me, but I don’t know if I can or ever will forgive myself.
I kept things very brief and left out many details for obvious reasons. What I shared today is something I have never shared openly before, as it’s been kept buried for the last 15 years. It’s the tip of the iceberg that weighs me down. I’m still the black sheep of my family, preferring the cold isolation over the warmth of their embrace. Perhaps in time I can learn to show affection once again and fully give them an actual embrace for once in my adult life, before it’s too late.