Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The fallen giant

I've been thinking about this post for a few days. Alot of times, I blog to get rid of things that are piling up in my head. Issues that I don't necessarily want to discuss with anyone, but that I need to get out in the clear. I know people read my blog, sure. I am probably too transparent here sometimes- too open. This is going to be one of those times. Feel free to skip this post.

My father. Just those two words open up a pandoras box in my mind. I the past few years, my relationship with him has tanked. I love him, but I am pissed at how he lives, and how his life affects my life.

Lots of people have shitty fathers. I realize this. Nobody has the patent on family angst. Everybody has it in some ways. But damnitt, this just plain hurts.

No call on my birthday. Nothing. No card. No call on Christmas. Nothing.

I know the phone goes both ways, and I did call him a month ago. The entire time he told me about how sick he feels, how he has been offered nursing care and rejected it, how he has somebody to come and clean but sends her away, how meal on wheels come and he tells them to f-off.

Not one question about Lily, about how I am feeling, about the baby. All about him.

Now yes, I am sorry he is sick. He had life saving surgery 2 years ago. He had a huge benign tumor removed from his HEART, in a surgery that drew doctors from all over to observe. His life was saved. He went home with an easy 10 years left.

He then proceeded to drink and smoke 3 packs a day. Again. After being saved literally from death.

He has since fallen 3 times, once not being found for 3 days and having to be in a nursing home for months. All three times, he was drunk. He is still drinking.

This man is my father. My father. And I'd like to tell you that it hasn't always been this way, but it has.

My parents divorced when I was 3. From that point, my father had me off and on while my mother was in a hospital or rehab or wherever the hell she would disappear to. And he was a hard worker who came home and was a hard drinker.

But in my mind, he was my hero. The one who would ride in and save me from my life. The one who loved me. The one who never hit me. He drank and passed out every night, but I made him into something larger than life. A savior. A giant.

He was handsome. He was strong. He was a god to me.

I didn't know any better. I didn't know what a father should be. And I was so little, and so needy.

And he failed me.

And I think of myself when I was little. I was quiet, and I was good. I tried to be invisible. How could this man see how vulnerable I was, and how sad I was, and how goddamn beaten up I was...and walk AWAY? HOW? How could he desert me for his own selfishness?

I worshipped him. Even when I was in foster care and he wouldn't show up for visits...I waited ALL DAY outside in the Vegas sun for him. I blistered my skin waiting. I'd sit until dusk. And then I would go in, and cry myself to sleep. How could he?

I just don't know.

It took me until I was in therapy to let go of my perception of my father. I had to cast him down, and see him as he really was, not as I wanted him to be. And even then, it took me until Lily was 6 months old to have the conversation I should have had long ago. To let go of my rage at him. To let him know that I remembered all of the shit he let me go through. It was a conversation where he denied and denied everything. It was a conversation where I wasn't taking any more bullshit from him.

I was thinking of the story of David and Goliath the other day. Thinking about how we all have our giants, our fears. But we still have to confront them all, head on. We have to cast them down, to see clearly around us to what is real and true. I had to be David to the image of my father. I had to cast the stone and bring it down, to see what was lying beyond it.

Doing so was way more painful that I thought it could be. And it is also something that was necessary.

But in this new year, I am making a resolution to do just that. I am old enough and wise enough and strong enough now to be my own woman, and to push aside all of the false and forced guilt I have carried through my life. My father made his bed. I see him for what he is, and I will not excuse it or make light of it anymore.

And I will not raise him up again, or allow my memory to be clouded by my need to have a parent.

He is who he is. I can love him, but I cannot change him. And I can have no expectation of him, either.

So let the giants I have raised up fall down this year. Let me take them all down, bit by bit, until I can see the horizon only. And then my path will be clear to the One who never disappoints, or abandons, or walks away.