Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Letter I Won't Write to My Dad (Or, alternatively, Why I Am Not His Fucking Ghost Girl)

I know, I know it's been a while. Sorry about that.
I've been dealing with a whole new breed of demons lately and I didn't- well. I guess I didn't want to worry anyone. Which sounds stupid, I know, but I've found that on most social networking sites, I'm fiercely protective of my followers' well beings. I don't want to unnecessarily stun or upset or offend. And I certainly don't want anyone to worry. Sure, that's foolish, but I've been doing a lot of foolish things within the past couple of months, all of which without anyone knowing. No one worried then, so why cause concern now, right?

The reason I'm back is because tonight, my ex-dad made a facebook post lamenting that it was the anniversary of my parent's divorce before he then forwarded the post via email to my family members, with an attached 4 year old family photo (he had to email us, seeing as to he how blocked us all on facebook last year). And I was going to write my typical patronizing, analytical, grandiose email replies that I never send, and then possibly post it and/or vent all my anger on this blog, but I just. didn't. I couldn't quite muster up the rage.

I consider my father as a very sad man. Not, per se, depressed, insomuch as his mere existence makes other people sad. He's self-obsessed, quick to drink and raise his voice, has some serious subconscious misogyny, some variant of OCD and is pretty delusional. Last I'd heard he sold our family house in the suburbs and was living in an apartment in the city, still working the job he's hated since I was born and dating a string of 30-40 something women with their own "daddy issues". He's manipulative, whether consciously or unconsciously so, readily fakes emotions and needs to be in control.

Despite all those horrible things that I could spend years analyzing, defining and diagnosing, and despite all of the pain and suffering he's caused my loved ones, my hatred towards him won't do anything. I can't go back in time and prevent my parents from marrying, can't kill him as a child nor can I kill him now. None of those actions would accomplish anything, nor would I want them to: In a way, all of those horrible years and black days are what makes my family my family. Sure, they might be happier- but they would not be the people I have endured so much through, the people I have banded together with and ridden out hurricanes through.

(the irony doesn't escape me that the only hurricane we ever endured in all our years in Florida was my dad)

Besides, he doesn't know he's done anything wrong. He's childish, in those regards- completely lacking in any sort of empathy or self-awareness. We were all baffled as to why he sent my sister a happy birthday last year: my sister, whom he spent years psychologically and physically abusing. But to him, wishing her a happy birthday and grounding her for taking too long to reply to a question are one in the same concept: parenting. He doesn't know what he's done. He'll never know what's done. And in those regards, I can't really blame him.

 I mean sure, he's given me plenty of issues. Caused cracks in the foundation of my family that may never be fully repaired. But all of the anger and hatred and resentment I may feel towards him won't accomplish anything but slowly charring me from the inside out, leaving nothing but ashes and a ghost in their wake. My father will never give his daughters closure, because he will never consider that my sister and I might need closure at all. And in those regards, he's the same as a child. Quick to upset and whine, desperate for attention and affection, uncaring and unknowing of the consequences their actions may have. I may never forgive my father, nor do I think I will ever love him, but actively hating him won't do me any good.

Last night I had a dream that my entire family was spending time together, going out to a lunch or movie or event and trying to force smiles as we so frequently once would. And my mother said something innocuous, as she once would, and my father went quiet and dangerous, as he once would, and my sister took too long to answer a question, carefully debating which answer would be least likely to incite his wrath, as she once would, and my father inevitable exploded, as he always would. And I gripped him by his meaty arm and dragged him away from them, as I never have, and I exploded right back.

I can't remember what my dream self said, exactly? but it was an endless stream of cold observations, of his failures, of his inevitable isolation, of his complete inability to make himself happy in life, how he will die alone and unsatisfied, having reaped nothing more in his life than the bitterness he'd sown. I didn't, however, castrate him with a spork. Didn't give him two pretty black eyes and knuckle sandwich, didn't gouge his eyes out with a melon baller. I didn't perform any of the expansive, descriptive actions I've dreamed up over the years. The only time I ever touched him was to to drag him away, and then I just talked. Seriously, I don't know what the hell I said but I chewed his dream-self out pretty thoroughly.

He went quiet. In a different way- not the hair-raising stillness before a storm, not the ringing silence before the explosion of a bomb- quiet, like a chastised school boy. And I left him there, standing quietly off to the side, not quite meeting my eyes, and I walked back to my family; my beautiful, broken, ridiculous little family, and-
and then I woke up.

I thought, maybe this is a sign I'm getting better. maybe this is my psyche stepping in the right direction.

Then I got a message from him tonight and I couldn't summon any biting words or sizzling resentment. Just sort of a hollowness, an open space. Maybe my subconscious specifically made note of the anniversary of my parent's divorce. Maybe it just takes some ~12 months to grow out of your feelings of resentment. Maybe the director of my life story just thought it'd be appropriately cinematic. But whatever the case, I think it's good. I like having that hollow space now, not singeing the cavities of my chest. I'm happy that his actions won't burn me up; that I won't be his fucking ghost girl.

Sometimes recoveries aren't giant confetti cannons or getting the perfect apologies or getting to act out every violent fantasy you've ever concocted on your abuser. The world won't always be kind, and it will pretty regularly be cruel, and sometimes we won't be able to have a fairytale character come make it all better. Sometimes we have to make ourselves okay, and know that having cracks in our foundation doesn't mean we're irreparably broken. And sometimes, when a 50 year old manchild makes a whiny post on facebook, you don't write a reply.

Sometimes, it's the little victories that count.

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