Today I was asked to tell Chance how I had to fight to get glasses. The main protagonist in this account is my father, whom many of my older readers know is a sociopathic... boob. And while telling this story, I suddenly realized that in just the last few months, memories of my father are fading away.
I first noticed it while looking through some old pictures on my hard drive in early December. A rather disgruntled person, who probably wants to stay nameless, sent me pictures of my father and what he was up to, politically speaking. This person was a member of a local Democratic Party Support Group, and, like many, did not care for my father very much. I didn't even know this guy, but about 4 years ago, he looked me up anyway, just to ask, "Why?" He found me via a Google search, and was quite surprised my father had a child at all. At my request, he sent me some pictures a few volunteers had taken. They were of poor quality, like 320 x 240 jpegs taken with a half megapixel camera that might have come free from a cereal box. They weren't "surveillance photos," because it was obvious people were posing for them. But there my actual father was, in some tacky blue shirt, laughing it up next to someone. There were other ones where he was posing with someone running for District 6, him with Nicole, in line for some outdoor buffet, at some Stamford wine-tasting thing, and a few others. Most of them were accidental photographs of group outings, but a few he posed for. I totally forgot I had them (I'd post a few, but I lost them again).
What I saw pictures of my father, for the first time, I felt a weird sense of disconnectedness, like I was looking at the photo of someone else. It used to be that when I saw his face, with that wide crocodile smile, I would feel something deep within me start to boil a thick anger and hatred. Now, it's almost like I can't feel that anymore. I can say "Papa" again without feeling any emotional attachement to the word.
That's when I realized he's gone. He's really gone. Like some weird acceptance that he's dead or something. He is probably still alive somewhere, but he might as well not be. You have to understand, for me, this is a monumental breakthrough.
It used to be I'd obsess several times a day at some horrid memory of something nasty or cruel he did to me. I spent untold numbers of sleepless nights, replaying events in my head that now seem to have little to no power. For a while, it was kind of hard to accept that the horrible things I went through weren't wrong, and somehow they could be fixed. I guess I felt special, like somehow my suffering was a mistake, and shouldn't have happened. I suppose all kids who go through trauma are like that. Part of denial, like you are in line at a Complaints Counter. "No, no... my suffering is different, it was a mistake, see? I filed the proper forms, I have permission slips, and did all the right things, so could you go and make it right?"
I used to have long fantasies, as recently as last year, where I couldn't sleep because I was replaying, "what I should have done." I actually have had fantasies where I had a Neo-vs-Agent-Smith knock-down, drag out fight, where even if I lost, I would do some damage to his face that he'd have to explain at work. Parts where I'd scream, "Go ahead, asshole, KILL ME! If you got the guts, because if you don't kill me, I'll slit your throat in your sleep!" I'd even throw him a knife, just out of curiosity if he'd cut me up or murder me in some control-craved rage. I think he might have. I was willing to die in my fantasies just so he'd have to try and cover up the murder. But oh, I was too clever, and I sent several letters to people the day before the fight, "If I die... my father did it." Ha ha ha...
Pathetic, really. The result of reading too many dramatic books and Shakespeare, I suppose. But man, I was so there in my head. The classic trap of, "If I knew then what I know now..." The real truth is he never beat me much, and I just cried a lot in response to his frequent verbal abuse, teasing, and mental games. These fantasies would end with me taking a deep sigh, figuratively patting my inner child on the head, giving him a hug, and telling him it was okay, it's over. I know that if somehow I got sent back in time, I could never face him, and while I cowered, cried, and cut myself... it was the safest way. I survived because I didn't fight back. Life isn't like the dime store novels; the hero doesn't always win, and some people who don't deserve to suffer keep on suffering.
Sometimes cowardice pays off.
I have been working for many, many years to get to where I am now. I still have a long ways to go, but now, when I told Chance the story about my glasses, part of me went, "Ah... I am sick of that story." Not sick as in upset, but just bored with it. No longer is it the outcry of exciting times during the war... the war is over. Both sides took heavy casualties. He's gone, he doesn't think of me, why should I think of him? I only miss him in a pity kind of way. I want to be around for my grand kids, spoil them, and have a good time with the huge amount of my friends. He will never know a goofy late night chat with a bunch of friends in a hotel lobby. He will never know laughter brought by pure joy of another's fortune. He will never know hugs from children that aren't even his. He will never know the feeling of weightless joy when something he did really made someone happy. He will never know what it's like to say the three words, "I don't know," which I feel, along with Timothy Leary, are words that signal you're about to learn something. He will never know humility brought on by respect, the feeling of care of how you are just one player among many, and the zen-like feeling that you belong to something important, and your friends will be there with you.
I think this finally came to a head when his mother died, and he never even acknowledged it. I'm not sure why, but that sort of punched the ticket of, "Yes, he is a sociopathic asshole." Why all the other times never did it for that oatmeal-textured collection of nerves in my head, who can tell? I mean, if I am told when he dies, I'll show up. I won't spit on his grave. I just don't want to be near him WHEN he dies, because I am a little superstitious, and in case all those stories of wicked people going to the afterlife are true, I don't even want to be in the same TOWN when that happens. Yeeeh! "Do you smell brimstone? Let's... ah, go across the street for a while..." Writing this blog helped a lot too, because there was this, "One last time, I'm telling the story right, and then I'll never have to tell it again." Then there's CR, who's awesome as always, and helped me deal with childhood issues more ways than he'll ever know. Christine helped a lot too, even if all she could do was pat me on the arm and tell me it was okay. My friends listened over the years, and put up with my, "Gaaaaahhhh! And then, then, he did THIS thing, and... ooooh, grrrrrrr!"