I just spent 5 minutes sitting here choking back illogical tears (“but are any tears really logical?” I think to myself), and another 10 staring at the blank page with no idea what to say. For whatever reason, nothing in my life can get to me quite the way my father does. I know, logically, I’m over it. I’ve watched Dead Poet’s Society – I know to stand up for what I believe in. Good Will Hunting taught me, “it’s not your fault.” But somehow still, years later, one email for the first time in months of not hearing from him and it still gets to me.
I can’t put this on anyone. This is my battle to fight. My demon, or rather devil. I was just saying last night when catching up with a good friend how we hadn’t heard from him in months and it’s been rather peaceful and then BAM. Speak of the devil. I wake up to an email for the first time in I don’t even know how long.
It’s like waking up to a nightmare, only it’s in writing and it’s still there. I should delete it. I should block him again because while we rarely hear from him, it still gets to me. I don’t let anyone get to me, but he gets to me and even now, as an adult I’m sitting here questioning my self worth and how long it will take me to fuck up the next important thing in my life because if there’s anything that man taught me, it was that I was a fuck up. I wasn’t good enough. I am not good enough. I’ll never be good enough.
And I’ve spent my life proving him wrong. If only I always believed it. But I know better, I really do.
His emails are delusional, painting this picture of how perfect life supposedly was when, without warning, his entire family turned on him. He has no idea why or how, when we had this perfect childhood, this perfect upbringing, with perfect family vacations in a perfect suburban town during the perfect Reagan years, when Disney was the best place on Earth and everything was, as he remembers it, perfect. Or that’s how it was if you ask him. He has no idea why one day, his family disowned him and condemned him to a life of boredom with nothing but his cats, the TV, and the internet to entertain him. Oh, and his alcohol. Of course his alcohol. But it’s okay, he doesn’t get drunk anymore, he assures us. He hasn’t in years. Only a few vodkas and a few glasses of wine a day, give or take. Maybe a little more. But really, that’s nothing. He even quit cold turkey before. I mean, except for wine, but it’s not like a few glasses of wine with lunch and several with dinner even really count, at least not if you ask him. No, he hasn’t been drunk in ages.
Funny, I don’t think he’s ever really been sober. And I know a lot more about how his mind works than he thinks I do.
I get my math brain from him. My never-ending curiosity that questions everything from reality to infinity and wants to know more. I also get my manicism from him. The difference was, I got help, and continue to be vigilant in managing my health. This life means a lot to me, and I plan on being in this one for a very long time, so quite literally, my life depends on it. And I’m okay with that. I don’t drink when I’m mad, or stressed, or upset. I can tell you I won’t be drinking this week until I get my brain quieted down and this swift-kick-in-the-gut feeling gone enough that I can breathe without feeling like I’m choking on air or about to puke. I know better, and I know that I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, and it’s not anyone’s place to fix but my own. I can’t fix him, but I’ve spent a long time fixing me, and I have no intentions of ever really being broken again. I’m okay. I’ve got this. Really.
Just know that this week, if I’m a little off kilter, I’m sorry. If I’m a little rough around the edges, or a little tense, or a little more quiet than usual, I’m sorry. I just need some air. Or a hug. Or nothing at all but some solitude on the lake. Or to learn how to see myself through someone else’s eyes other than my father’s.
I’ll figure it out, I promise. I always do. And while in some way, my father will always haunt me, I also know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for him. Underneath it all, there’s greatness even in the devil himself. For that, I thank him. Truly. Because where I am in my life right now is the best place I’ve ever been. And I mean it – I have the most genuine people in my life that I can’t imagine even going back and changing a thing, not even the hard parts. Those are the parts that make you realize how great the great ones really are. And these days, there’s a lot more great parts than bad ones. And even more great things to come. So much more.
It’s okay, I can do this. Don’t worry about me. Anyone else can see that I’m so much stronger now. Anyone can. And if anyone else can, I can too. I love you.