Here's today's prompt for REVERB14 (condensed version):
...we all occasionally find ourselves having to deal with an incredibly unpleasant individual... Think back to such a situation: If the gloves were off, how you really would have liked to have dealt with them?
|"You are exactly where you deserve to be."|
My father left when I was about 16. It was not soon enough.
When I have to talk about him, I often say "he wasn't a very nice person". That is a gross understatement. He was an abusive, mean, lying, horrible thing...even the term 'person' is too good for what he was.
I hated my father my entire life.
He left when I was 16 and died when I was in my mid-20s, and I remember being afraid every single day until he died that he would come back. Even once I was grown and married and had a new last name, I lived in fear that he would somehow find me and show up at my door. The day I found out he died, all I felt was relief.
They cremated him when he died.
I went to the funeral...more than anything, I think, just to make sure that he really was dead. Someone had put up pictures of him, ones taken since I had seen him last. It was almost laughable to me. In those last few years, the thing that scared me the most in the world, the boogeyman in every shadow, had been nothing but a frail old man. After seeing those pictures, I remember thinking to myself that if he had shown up at my door, I could have beat him senseless...and I thought that would have been justice.
As time went by, I found that when I thought about my father I didn't feel the rage I felt that day at the funeral. Something else took over: pity. You see, for all the bad things he did, he still had a family that, at one point in time or another, had wanted to love him. My mom had told me once that the thing my dad was most afraid of was dying alone. And that's exactly what happened to him. And I found that I could pity him. Even though he didn't deserved it. Even though he did it to himself. I pitied him. In some ways, I think I was right to feel that way. I thought that was justice. Maybe it was.
When I sat down to write this post, I thought I would end it there, saying that pity I felt was what I wished I could have said to my father. And it is one thing I wish I could have said to him. But there's more.
I wish I could have told him that I hated him. That no one, especially a child, deserves to be treated the way he treated me and the rest of my family. I wish I could have said that what he did to me as a kid screwed me up. His words and actions reverberated through my life and I hate him for it.
Physical pain, literal bruises, all that heals itself. But the parts that don't leave scars...those are the ones that stay with you. I heard each terrible thing he ever said to me played on a loop in my mind every single day for years of my life.
I want to tell him that despite everything he did to me, I still tried to love him. I did everything I possibly could, every ridiculous demand he ever made was met, just to make him love me, to make him say I was worthy of love, that I had finally done just one thing right. But he could never say it and because of him, for the biggest part of my life, I honestly believed that no one would ever love me. There was a part of me that felt that I deserved whatever he did to me because I was so worthless.
I want to tell him that he took away every good thing anyone ever said about me...I couldn't believe them because of him. Every pat on the back was mocking me and every rejection was warranted and every time I failed it was to be expected because I couldn't do anything but fail.
I want to tell him that I prayed harder than anything I had ever prayed for my nephews and nieces to never have to know him because he was the one who wasn't worthy of love. I want to tell him that I'm glad that my two youngest nephews will look at a picture of him one day and won't even know his name, because he is not worth remembering.
I want to tell him that I was glad he died because things like him don't deserve to live. I want to tell him that I hope his death was slow and agonizing and that I hope that in his last moments he felt every single ounce of terror that he cause me in my life.
And, more than anything, I want to tell him that I know he was a liar.
I want to tell him that it took everything I had and cost me more than anyone should ever have to pay, but I know, I KNOW, that I have been loved in this life. That I have been loved for the person I chose to be, because I am NOT stupid and I am NOT worthless and I am NOT unlovable. And every single time I accomplish something, that's me flipping him the biggest bird I possibly can.
There was a time in my life that I felt like my father made me who I was. All the faults and flaws and the mistakes and bad decisions I made were, in one way or another, because of him. Maybe that was immature or maybe I was right...I don't know.
But I do know this: there comes a time in a person's life where they have to let go of that blame. If they ever were responsible for your actions, there's a point where other people's control over you ends...a point where you need to say 'that was some messed up bull crap that happened to me but I will not let it rule my life anymore'.
I had that conversation with myself about my father. The things we do, bad or good, land us right where we deserve to be. If we don't like where we are, instead of blaming others, we have to step up and take action. Right what's wrong in your world.
My father spent his time blaming someone else for what was wrong in life. When he finally left, I like to believe he saw how wrong he was, but it was too late for him to come back. He was all alone and that was right where he deserved to be.
I can remember him saying once that he believed if a parent had a skill, he should teach it to his child. I highly doubt he meant it in this way, but he did teach me, through his bad example, exactly what I didn't want to be.
I was lucky enough to have other people in my life who showed me there is more to who I am than who my father was. I had people who showed me, with patience and kindness, that the thing he had tried to kill in me was beautiful and worthwhile and oh so very lovable. I'm fortunate enough to have come to the realization that, even though it's been a long time coming, I, too, am exactly where I deserve to be.