It's been a while since I've written about something more important than just a photo a day, so lets chat about my dad.
As far back as I can remember, my Dad has been my biggest fear. When I was little, my mom spent more time protecting me from him than she did herself. This resulted in lots of bruises to her arms and legs, even her face at times.
He was a drunk. A very angry drunk. I specifically remember one morning, when I was in first grade, my Dad had gotten up in the morning and gone directly to the recliner in the living room where he proceeded to drink a few cans of beer while watching something he'd recorded the night before on his fancy new VCR. Me, being the innocent little girl I was, said something along the lines of Don't you have to go to work? You can't go with THAT smell. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to school that day. After my Dad stopped yelling at me to mind my own business, Mom stepped in to once again, protect her little girl. That was the last time I mentioned drinking to my Dad.
A few years later, the divorce that was inevitable, began to haunt me. Dad would try to play me against Mom. By doing so, he shaped me into a vindictive, hurtful person. He taught me that this behavior was okay. Acceptable even. It was years before I was old enough to understand what was happening, and unfortunately, so far into a hole of unhappiness and rage, that digging out wasn't even an option. At the time.
Through the years of every other weekend visits, I managed. There were more bad times than good. The older I got, the more irritated I became at my mother for forcing me to spend the weekends with him. I was unhappy there. I would develop an attitude about everything. I counted down the hours until we would go back home on Sunday evening and didn't care if it hurt his feelings. I had started to develop a shell around myself that I didn't want him to be able to break through or even see through.
Once I was in high school, I had hoped things would be different. I prayed for it to be different. High school was a big deal. It was my first taste of real independence. I looked at this as being a new chance for him to be the "dad" that I actually needed. It was a chance for him to help me deal with real teenage girl stuff. I was on the girls basketball team and in the Choir. We had several games throughout my high school years and a number of different choir concerts. I was excited to invite him to these things. You know, fresh start and all. He came to one concert early in my Freshman year. It was okay. He laughed at us and gave us a hard time about the hideous outfits we wore, but it was all in good fun. Finally! Positivity from Dad.
A few months later, I invited him to one of my basketball games that was going to be at a local high school by his house. A bus ride for us, but just down the street for him. I wasn't the star of the game, but I did manage to put up a few points for the team. I was happy. My coach was happy. The team was happy. Dad wasn't so impressed, and went so far as to tell me that men prefer women that aren't "Amazon Women". That was the last time I invited him to attend one of my games, and the reason I began to pull away once again. :-(
The every other weekend visits became more of a nuisance during my high school years than anything else. I dreaded it even more than I did in years prior because it was taking time away from my friends. I wasn't allowed to make phone calls to my friends while I was visiting with him, so I always felt completely out of touch with what was happening in my important high school social life.
After I graduated from high school, the relationship I had with my mom and step dad wasn’t great. I was 17 and knew it all. I didn't have respect for my parents because I felt they had all ganged up against me. The years of hate I had for my dad, coupled with the irritation I had with my mom and step dad for sending me to Dad's, brought on some pretty heated arguments. At 17 years old, I was asked to leave my parents house.
Because I didn't have anywhere else to go, and staying at a friends house wasn't a positive option, I moved in with my dad. He drove me so far into a fit of rage, that I packed all my stuff up and moved to Texas. Alone. I couldn't take one more second of being around that man, and I knew anything that happened to me in Texas couldn't be as horrible as it currently was. Enough was enough.
When I got married a few years later, people asked me if my parents were going to fly to Texas for it. Mom did. I asked Dad not to. It was a decision I mulled over for weeks, even months. And it was a decision that I made all on my own. And everyone supported that decision. When RJ was born, The X was in school full time and I didn't have any other family around to help. I gave in to my dads request to come visit solely based on the assumption that I would need help.
When The X and I split for the second and final time a few years later, I was found without a place to go. The police made sure I stayed away from what I had already comfortably called home, so I made a desperate phone call to my dad. "Can I come stay with you?" I whispered into the phone. There was no hesitation in his voice. He said yes without even thinking about it. I was determined to have a relationship with my dad, no matter what I had to do.
I tried. I honestly tried. I even had RJ visiting on the weekends hoping they would develop a relationship. Then the night came when Dad had RJ pinned down on the ground, choking him. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. RJ, being all of about five years old, didn't want to eat the spinach Dad had made. No surprise, cause I wouldn't eat that crap either. I leave the room for two freakin' minutes, and I come back to RJ balling his eyes out, choking on spinach he'd been trying to chew, all while being choked. Oh My God! I did a LOT of screaming, Dad got up, and RJ went and hid in the bedroom closet while I packed some clothes. I called my mom to come pick us up, and off we went. I think she got there in record time. I did not allow RJ to be around my dad after that. And it wasn't until Sis's wedding last April, that they saw each other. And naturally, the first thing RJ said to me when he saw him was, "Do I have to say hi?"
The next couple of years didn't get any better. Finally, in December of '08, I walked away for the last time. I threw my hands up in the air and admitted defeat. He had won. He had bullied me so much, that it finally pushed me away. And I didn't look back. No regrets.
For thirty-two years, I have gone back and forth emotionally, trying to fight the feeling of hate for him. It's my Dad. I'm not supposed to "hate" him. But I do. I did. Because he is a monster. A monster who refuses to fix what's broken. A monster who finds joy in the suffering of another. A monster who will not haunt my dreams anymore.