Brad Smith (jesus_h_biscuit) wrote,
Brad Smith

On Crying, My Father, and Redemption

For whatever reasons, and I suspect there are plenty, I've been doing a lot of crying lately. I'm operating under the assumption that I'm older now and that all the "Don't Cry!" I was issued at birth has all been used up - now, it appears, is crying time. My frustrations and the limits of my patience seem to become more trying and thinner as I grow older, and I'm less resistant to struggle to change that anymore. I'm not complaining, mind you. This is a good thing, it means I'm paying more attention to myself and choosing better battles. For years I've heard older people explain to me that there are just some things you have to let go of, even when you may not wish to, because it's just not energy you can afford to throw away. I have (seemingly for years now) been opposed to throwing away or wasting my energy on stupid things. It makes me tired and trying to reclaim that wasted energy wastes more than was thrown away to begin with, it is the ultimate prostration for me. It also produces much fallout anxiety and frustration and causes a lot of self-imposed grief in which I become my own worst deprecator.

Understand something that I'm reasonably sure I've mentioned before to many people and is understood by those who personally know me in real life. Most of the time that I cry, I am completely alone. Believe that if you ever see me with tears in my eyes, and it's not the result of a sad movie or some news story that is just agonizing to read, that there is something significant going on. Just don't try to comfort me in those moments, because unless I'm in a frame of mind to receive it (and this almost never happens) I'll unplug from you completely. There are maybe four people in the world I'm not like this with. It is difficult even for me to understand, but I think that Damien, Maggie, Christi, and Michael "get it". I'd be less inclined to recoil from them in an instance that brings me to the point of tears, at least I hope I would. I'm wired in such a way that if you pull on me in any way, even the least little bit, my instinct is to push back. I grew up in a family that is so dysfunctional that even from an early age I was acutely aware of the daily juxtaposition between all of my siblings and my parents. She's always been the emotional, bleeding-heart liberal, and he's always been the cold, emotionless conservative. She always treated me like I was the most perfect thing that ever lived, he like a cat that tolerates but secretly cannot stand the new puppy. Many times it was apparent that they were who they were in spite of each other, part of the secret war that was waged between them long before the battles included us as pawns. I actively had a mantra as a preteen that I kept until just a few years ago: DO NOT ATTATCH - TO ANYONE OR ANYTHING. It shouldn't be hard to figure out how that evolved.

Now I'm older and instead of being a reactionary product of age, I'm learning to accept myself in all my flawed, outrageous humanity. I did all of my irresponsible and reckless living early on and I got all of that out of my system years ago it seems. I damaged myself in such ways that I had to kill off who I was so I could be who I am, if that makes any sense. I'm learning to apply this sense of pardon to myself and to my parents for many things now that I can understand their roles as the parents of an oversensitive, fractured child. For years I have resented my father for an incident when I was sixteen that struck me as so wholly inappropriate, so devoid of love and so calculatingly cold that it has been the second biggest cause of my dislike of (to say nothing of distrust of and distance from) him. I had been grief stricken for two weeks over the suicide of my best friend. I had gone to lunch with my parents one Sunday afternoon, and wanted to drive out to the cemetery afterwards to see if they had laid out her headstone yet. Also, because I was a fragile teenager who felt closer to her there, despite the fact that I knew it was a lie and that the God I'd tried so hard to believe in until that day was also. I stood over her grave, still clumpy from recently turned earth, and openly wept at the thought of her in the ground under these circumstances - cold, alone, and without me - a mere two weeks after she'd sat with me in my bedroom, Duran Duran in the background and a shared plate of chips and salsa between us. My mother stood behind me with her hands on my shoulders, whispering sweet little sayings to me as comfort and through her own tears at the loss of her own surrogate daughter. My father I kept in my peripheral, about twenty feet away from us, not part of this and clearly uncomfortable as a mere bystander when it happened. I do not recall when he walked over to us, I do not recall the shock of feeling his arms around me. He almost never touched me in any way, physically or otherwise since I was a small child, so I'm sure that his touch came as a shock. I do recall the searing flash that accompanied his words to me immediately after his clumsy gesture however, and until just recently I've never not hated him for them.
"You have got to accept the fact that she's gone and nothing is going to change that. Stop crying about this, you've cried about it enough." he said to me in his normal, if slightly authoritative vernacular.

"Don't say anything else please, just don't" my mother commanded softly but with obvious venom and contempt.

I understand now what I didn't then. He meant it as comfort and encouragement, I just had no way of deflecting his complete lack of tact to see that it was his only way of trying to distract me from my grief. I understand him now, I know what his intentions are despite his methods which have been invariably disastrous at times. It was no one's fault that I wasn't so equipped as a teenager. I know now what he meant and I think I've internalized it as his way of making an effort to be involved, to be available to me when I needed him most. I also know what it took for him to even bother in the first place, and now that I'm older I think it was an extraordinary act on his part. I realize that must sound desperate and pathetic, but if you knew then you'd know. I cannot put it any better than that or I'll lose my train of thought.

So I'm not angry with you about this anymore, Daddy. I'm not angry or hurt anymore by this, even though I've carried that weight out of habit for 18 years. That's an astonishingly long time, and the fact that she has been dead now for eighteen years is equally shocking to me. It is difficult to believe that it has been that long. I know you meant well and that you probably suffered in silence for years, a lot more than I'll ever know because it was the only way you could show you loved me. I don't blame you for not knowing how, anymore than I blame you for not knowing a lot of things. I understand now, and I love you for all of it. And very soon, once I make time, I'm going to tell you all of this because I've sentenced and judged you unfairly for a shamefully long time over this and you deserve to know why. You deserve better than what I've given you, so I'll do my part to make this right for both of us because it is on me now. What is has taken me to arrive here probably pales in comparison to what you've put up with when you didn't have to.

Time is short. You'll never have as long as you wished you had to do the things you should.

  • Post a new comment


    Comments allowed for friends only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded