The truth is always there, whether or not we choose to acknowledge it. And sometimes it feels smarter to run from it, to hide it, to close it up into the past where we think it can't hurt us anymore. The sad thing is, it isn't missing, hidden, or outrun; it's still lurking in our actions and our reactions.
I think I feel I need to premise my story because I'm afraid of the truth of it. But it's time this story is told, and so I will trudge on. I hope the readers that know me as reader to writer don't judge me too harshly; I also hope the readers who know me as family, friend, or enemy are careful of how they view the truth. For indeed, it is only my story, from my side. But it needs to be told.
As divorce becomes the family dinner table discussion in millions of homes nationwide, it is often easy to forget there are actual people on the front lines in these battles, as well as veterans nursing their mental wounds. Some of us are ghosts of who we were.
I don't know why the two sides of who I remember as my father, or as I commonly refer to as my sperm donation live-in, conflict, but they do. I was a YMCA Little Indian daughter and I remember a man who didn't really want to know me. As a straight A student, I was rarely questioned about school or friends or if I was just angry cuz I didn't get a Cabbage Patch Kid (tm) for my birthday, during the thirteen years the man stayed in my family. Our family looked ok from the outside, that is.
On the inside there was always arguing, anger, danger. Magic three foot holes in walls (or so they appeared to a nine year old), dog barking and then whining in as much fear as the human children (my younger sister and I) were in. And then I knew I had to be brave, no matter what. Because she was two years my junior and I was more afraid for her, because I knew I loved her the moment my mom brought her home to me. And even if those more recent years she started to annoy me by trying to be me, I knew I secretly loved that feeling too.
I remember one night when I heard my mom crying in the bathroom. And even though I knew there were two bathrooms, I chose to pull the "kid's gotta go pottie" routine to get my dad away from her. Or maybe he'd notice there were youngins around or maybe he'd put down the Budweiser, ignore the talking frogs for once in his damn life. It was our fault we were born in your twenties, a heinous reminder of maybe a perceived mistake on your part, you may have thought as you chugged it all down, even bent the can with your hand and tossed it's silver white glory into the recycling. Probably because you spent half your paycheck at the bar to gain friends who are only there when the drinks are on Jack.
I have long-battled my self esteem demons, and I no longer let that thought control my own. I know I am not a mistake regardless of anyone's opinion. So what if my mother was 17 and my stupid 20 year old dear old dad wasn't ready to settle down. You didn't care about your education enough to drop the blue collar; you chose to be daddy's boy and work the family construction business. None of these decisions were my fault. These were your choices.
And now I know that you sit in a city somewhere near Downer's Grove, Illinois wondering what the two offspring you begot are up to. (It also wasn't my fault you opted for a vasectomy -- but thank GOD it happened.) You want to share my victories and yet never wanted to comfort me from my failures. You were ashamed of who you were and took that out on us. You bought into a new wife to trade out the old wife plus kids. And yes that does hurt deep down. I can still love myself, but can you love yourself?
You think that after ten years you can instant message someone "I love you" and hope it sticks. That was obviously a mistake, even I am not so naive. My anger has poured out and thinned, and even the bitterness has crusted away. I feel sorry for a man who's only blood on earth may not see him til he's brittle, and cold, lying still, a painted smile etched and sewn against a backdrop of "Amazing Grace." The only pain you can know is how you never took responsibility for anything. How can you have lived your life with just excuses to show for? I admit my failures.
I can say I fell in love with the wrong boy and nearly wrecked my education doing it. I can say I've trusted too easily, trusted not enough, and still make it through. But above all this, I can say I'm sorry. No excuses, just sorry.
You may be "recovering" from your alcoholism now, but do you ever think of making some truce with the casualties you created in your war against yourself? That maybe the little girl who wanted her mother to not come out of the bathroom looking red white and blue -- who didn't want her sister to have nightmares as scary as her own -- maybe she tried so hard to love you, but it just doesn't work anymore.
My own issues lay in my inability to trust properly. And I know it came from then. I don't blame you anymore. You were stupid and 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 --who cares --. I don't have kids at 29 for a reason. I don't trust myself with starting a family, because I don't want to screw up some small person's life. I'd like to have an altruistic love. I am not perfect, and I have a lot to learn. I guess I can admit that. And say I'm sorry.
I'm sorry you grew up privilaged and have never known the shame of a homeless shelter.
I'm sorry that you medicated your pain with Bud Lite or Jose or the good ole Captain Morgan, and a drug habit to boot. And I'm sorry that you had the perfect family and never knew it. You had the perfect life and couldn't accept it. I'm sorry you can't love yourself, and live every day trying to. But most of all I'm sorry that should your grandchildren ever be born (God willing) that you won't get to grasp their little fingers and tell them stories of how their momma was when she was younger -- because you never wanted to know her or to love her.
I accept that.