Father and Son

I was driving through the hills of West Virginia. I'd heard this song dozens of times, but never once heard anything past the first line of the chorus. Well, it brought me to tears this time. I was finally at a point in my life where I could look at my parents for who they are, and not with idealized eyes. I could look at my self with those same eyes.

I had let go of a lot of things to get to this point. I'm not mad anymore when I get hurt. I can say "that hurt me" instead of "why the hell did you do that?" I can actually forgive people now. I've let go of this silly idea of perfection. I let go of my self image that didn't mesh with reality, and quit fighting/lying/chasing to maintain it.... and in the process began to accept myself and others for who they really are and not what I want them to be. Part of that was admitting how I really felt about things.

I'm 10 years younger than my brother and early on realized I was an accident. Dad did a ton more stuff for my brother than he did for me and I always felt like Dad was kind of done with being a dad when I came into the world. I never really got the attention I wanted from him. I guess that's why I always sought out praise from other people. And to be honest, that is one of the main reasons I did well in school. I wanted the praise of other people. I was good at being the "smart kid" (it was easy doing it in a poor ass school in rural SC) and could get all the attention from teachers I wanted. I loved being the teachers pet. I have always wanted him to be proud of me, but I had absolutely no clue how to do it. It wasn't until I got back from my trip across America that I felt like he was proud of me for the first time in my adult life.

My relationship with my father is a lot like the song below. I don't really come home that often because I don't have a good relationship with my parents. I love my mom to pieces, but I never even really let her in to the intimate details of my life. Dad just doesn't know how to talk about them. For instance, they have absolutely no clue what I have been going through for the past few months of my life. They just know Chris and I don't talk that much anymore and that I am visiting NYC. They have enough common sense to know part of my trip was about her, but that's all. I never told them what happened, how sad I was or what I have learned. The closest I came to opening up was showing up at the house a little mopey and asking for more hugs than usual.

It was more than just feeling unwanted by dad though. I had to admit to myself that for a period in my life I was abused. It feels strange to say that because I think the natural image that comes to mind is one of a dad punching his wife and kids, but it is all a continuum. He drank a lot during a few of my tween years and really lashed out at times when Mom was away at work. I remember I used to be so scared when she would leave to work nights if he was home drinking. He would yell and scream. He kicked in a door once. What's funny though is that I would never back down or let things die... Exactly the way I am today. I just stood there and fought back and made my point knowing what it would mean. It pissed him off so much, and often he would spank or hit me. Not out of love though, but out of anger. I had to run to Grandma's a few times because I didn't know what he would do. I never saw my Dad come to tears over anything except when he fought with me. It's only as I am writing this that it's probably because he regretted what he was doing and was sad he lost control and hurt his son. Maybe this song helped me to see it.

We have a lot of talking to do once I make it back to Carolina.