Changes Close to Heart

A little over a week before Christmas, I found myself rather surprised when I sat down at the computer to check my Facebook for the second time that day; my dad had sent me a message, saying initially that he was wanting my address, but felt that he had a few questions that needed to be dealt with first.  I'd been considering sending him one for quite a while, but I wasn't sure how I would approach it, let alone what I would say.  Luckily for me, the message solved that issue.

I set to work sending him a return message shortly after I finished reading the post and, though I was a bit upset and scared at first, it felt good to be getting a lot of that off of my chest.  It was something that had been needed to get done for quite a while now, and I found myself thankful that he had messaged me after all this time of me pretty much ignoring him.  For the first time, I felt like I would be able to get answers for some of the things that have been bothering me for years- and I did.

However, I found myself learning a lot more about the situation than just the answers I was looking for, and I feel that it has seriously changed how I now look back on parts of my childhood.  While the things he's told me about what I've asked about haven't changed how I had initially felt (not that such a thing would be possible in any case), it's been shedding new light on old problems, as well as showing me things I hadn't ever really considered before.

For probably the last two or three years- ever since I returned from my escapades in Arkansas- I came to the realization that, like the concepts of "good" and "evil," what we choose to call "reality" is just as subjective; it's entirely based on the perceptions of the individual experiencing it, regardless of "right" and "wrong" or how much of the perception is incorrectly skewed.  My Grandma Jean made a comment on my last post that I believe fits my present situation extremely well, though I didn't realize it at the time:

"As we come into our own, we have these realizations... about our lives and how we were raised. The trouble is that how we remember things aren't necessarily what really happened."

So now, after putting this off for roughly two weeks- since that was when my dad's last message to me was, I find myself doing yet another important- even if it is figuratively small- thing that needs to be done for me to continue to grow, and to allow healing for myself and others.

When I was first considering what I would do when I posted this, I was debating on deleting my second post- the one that is mostly focused on how I felt about parenting and, more importantly, how I perceived my relationship with my father.  I decided against that, however- partly because of Jen, and partly because that post was made not to spread lies about my father, but because I needed to vent about what I perceived to be truth in my life, a perception that I now believe wasn't exactly based in fact.

I came to realize during the few messages that we shared over the past month and a half that I've caused a lot of pain to most everyone in my life, especially since the divorce.  I got angry- to this day, I don't know at who or what- and, without having any direction to focus it in, I instead released it in most every way I could; I stopped trying at school for the most part, I began "punishing" my parents and, later, their spouses and, perhaps worst of all, my mind began to skew many of the events of my childhood.

My perception changed dramatically, particularly towards my father, whom I decided had essentially taken to doing little more than punishing me and making sure that I was physically taken care of.  I felt, in some ways, abandoned, and slowly began to make him out to seem like some kind of monster in my life.  I wasn't willing to take into consideration that not only was I twisting what was going on around me, but I was actually hurting the people involved.  By the time it was drawing near to the end of my senior year of high school, I decided that I had had enough of everything that was going on and that I needed to get away from pretty much everyone that I knew so that I could escape the hurt that I was surrounded by.

During my two and a half years away from my family, barely talking to anyone, I realized and accepted that I had been pushing off a lot of my anger onto my stepfather, who had unjustly deserved it, but still felt that my real father did because of the "years of pain" that he had "caused" me.  My mind was still, more or less, poisoning itself against him.  The last two and a half years didn't improve on anything relating to him, either; while I went about trying to repair my relationship with my stepfather, I ignored the damage done with my real father, believing it to be almost exclusively his fault, as though he had greatly wronged me.  So, for two years- from November '08 until December '10- I pretty much ignored him aside from Christmas '09, taking the time to consider the relationship and whether I wanted him in my life or not, but still avoiding the idea that most of the damage that he had "done" to me were things that I had actually done to myself.

Now, after a little over 11 years since the divorce, I find myself sitting here, in awe of the damage that I caused to myself and my family.  If it weren't for the fact that I decided many years ago that I would do my best to live my life with no regrets, this would be one of them.  At the same time, though, I can't say that I would change it, either; I would like to believe that the events of my past have turned me into a pretty good guy overall, and my parents' divorce is one of the most central events of my life for who I am today, for as much as it hurt.

While I may not always agree with his choices, I know now that he at least did the best he could with what he knew.  So here I am, now 23 years old and finding myself needing not so much to forgive my father, but to forgive myself of so many "wrongs" in my past, and to ask my father to forgive me for the pain I caused- along with everyone else I've hurt during this time.


A Brief Look at My Beliefs & More on My Father

Patience, Love and Tolerance.  These are the three things that I have chosen to live my life by, and is a task that is far from easy to undertake.  Every day, I try to expand each of them, attempting to be better than I was the day before- but for what?  Perfection is an impossible goal, but I don't want to be perfect- instead, I want to be perfect in my faults.

It is my faults that I both take comfort in and what I use to drive myself forward in my constant attempts to become a better person.  Unfortunately, it is just as often that I see someone's faults first as it is that I see everything else about them.  Sometimes, though, I do everything I can to see the good in people, but they never let me see them.  It's difficult to be around people like that, especially when they're people that you're supposed to care about.

I realize now that my anger from my parents' divorce was misplaced and, in many cases, was entirely unnecessary.  In a short seven years, I overcame the anger that went with the divorce and, for the first time in years, felt a bit more at peace with myself.  At nineteen, I had freed myself from the burden of anger and opened myself up to something far easier to deal with, both for myself and for those around me- love.  Love tempered both my tolerance and my patience, both of which have become incredibly important to me.

Even with everything that I have now- mentally and spiritually, that is, as I have very few personal belongings- I can only tolerate so much, just like any other person.  My last entry reflected hard upon my father and then the ways that a parent's choices can and do affect their children, something that I'm sure is not easy for anyone to read.  It's not something that's very easy for me to type, either, but a lot of that had to get off of my chest.  I only hope that it doesn't change my family's opinion of me, though I will accept whatever comes back to me as a consequence of my choice to open this blog and slowly vent some of my concerns of both familial and societal issues that I see and/or have.

Even with everything that I have worked for, I have personally talked with my father once in almost a year and a half and I was, unfortunately, very disappointed by the aftermath.  After seeing him doing so much better with my sister- who has been diagnosed with several mental illnesses and he had previously virtually disowned- I had thought that he would have changed towards me as well.  I have grown tired of constantly being picked at behind my back, of not being involved in some of the decisions regarding my life, of being humiliated while trapped.  I want to keep giving him chances, but I don't know if I can continue to offer him chances to prove to me that he can be a father figure with as many times as he has shown me that he either can't be or won't be for me.

And yet...  I still love him.  I know my childhood wasn't all bad.  I do have plenty of good memories with him.  My only problem seems to be that the older I got, the smaller I would feel and the less welcome I felt around him.  It was almost like I didn't belong around him.  I continually debate on what I want to do to try to resolve this, but I never seem to be able to settle on any one thing.  Maybe some day I'll figure out what the best resolution is, but for now, I want to see what happens.


The Influence of Parents

In twenty-two years, I have seen (and been one of) many melodramatic people.  I remember in high school being extremely angry and getting into arguments with my stepfather fairly regularly, and to this day, I'm still not sure why.  Sometimes I think that it's because I was wanting a father-figure to accept me, and that's what my stepfather was- and still is- willing to do.  On the other hand, I think that's what made me angry; not because I wasn't being accepted, but because my real father wasn't the one to show me acceptance.

In so very many ways, it still does affect me.  I still yearn for him to accept me for who I am, for what I believe in, for what I do and who I care for... but slowly- ever so slowly- I realize more and more that what I want from him will probably never happen.  It pains me to come to this realization, and it makes me not want to believe it, that he will eventually accept me, but the more I think back on my childhood and his influence on me, the more I see that, though I am his son, he never really accepted me.  He always seemed more concerned about what was going on in my sister's life than that of my own, though even that wasn't much better than he did with me.

I look back on my childhood and the people I have known over the years, and it becomes more apparent with each passing day that children perpetuate the behaviors of their parents, regardless of whether these behaviors are "good" or "bad."  It's rare that I talk to my family about my parents' behavior- particularly my father's- but on the occasions that I do, I notice that he seemed to lie quite a bit- to both his family (namely wife and children) and neighbors.  I would always get in trouble whenever I would lie about something, regardless of what it was, and now I see why I acted that way.

Knowing what I do now, however, I wonder just what he told me over the years was a lie (white or otherwise) and what was the truth.  How many times was I lied to, by choice or by accident, when simply telling the truth should have sufficed?  How many times did he consciously make the choice to tell me how I felt was wrong and deny me the ability to properly grow as a human being?  How many times did he make me feel small and insignificant when he could have- nay, should have- just talked to me about it?

The more I think about it, the more I see that I never really had a dad during my childhood- and the closest things that I have to one aren't even related to me.

So many parents act upon their child's behavior- whether it's as a spur-of-the-moment decision or a time-thought deliberation- with unjust harshness and an undue severity of reprimand upon things that any normal child should be doing.  And yet, so few parents stop to think about what their choices will do to their children now and how it will affect them later.

As I commented at the beginning of this entry, I notice more and more that children will replicate their parents' behaviors:  Take, for example, the bully at school.  They are unjustly cruel to their peers, doing everything they possibly can to physically, mentally and/or emotionally prove to everyone else that they are the end-all-be-all of the students.  These children are often reprimanded and punished for their abusive behavior towards their fellow students, but what of the parents or guardians?  Why is so little ever done about the adults that influence these children to behave as such?

More often than not, I would imagine that these youths act as such for one simple reason; they are taking out the anger and frustration of their parental abuse on their peers so that they feel like they have some kind of control over their lives.  Whether or not this is true, I'm not entirely sure, but it is of my opinion that virtually all school/office bullies are simply perpetuating what happened to them at a young age.  The choice of a parent to abuse their child can and probably will be "re-enacted," so to speak, by the abused child as either a school bully or, later in life, as a harasser in the workplace or by abusing their own children under the delusional belief that they are being "better parents than theirs were."

So many parents believe that they are "doing the right thing" while being particularly harsh on their children for misbehaving, though sometimes they carry these to the extreme, beating their children senseless for minor things.  They refuse to look at the consequences of their choices, refuse to acknowledge the fact that their actions is part of a vicious cycle that, in many cases, will continue on through their own children.

They refuse to remember that Newton's Third Law of Motion applies to more than just physics:  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  To deny this is to deny that an influential figure like a parent can literally force a child into the same malign behavioral pattern as their parents- unless something else comes along to "push" them out of it.

Wanting to be a father myself, I am more than a bit apprehensive about it; my single biggest fear for when I do have my own child(ren) is that I will perpetuate the same attitudes that my father did for me.  I can only hope that my efforts to not go down the same path will pay off in a different parenting style than what my father used with me.

The Consequence of Choice

Choices.  That is what our lives are full of, every moment of every day.  Thousands upon thousands of choices.  We make the choice to get out of bed every day when we could choose to stay there, warm underneath the covers.  We choose to get online, go for a walk, play a game.  We choose...

We choose to be alive.  We choose to talk to people or even make that step towards the bathroom.  We choose which noises to ignore as "just another noise the house makes."  And yet many of us don't think about the consequences of our actions.  So many people don't stop for a moment to consider what could or will happen if we choose to do one thing over another.

So many of us choose to ignore that every choice has a consequence, that every step will ripple and force a reaction from something else.  It's as if we, as humans, are walking half-blind through our lives, acknowledging some consequences of our actions or ignoring others.  It's almost a sort of pseudo-ignorant veil that we cover our faces with, trying to ignore the fact that, sometimes, the things we do affect people more than we know.

Why don't abusive parents stop to consider what their actions today will cause their children to be like tomorrow?  Why do some parents beat their children for failure and fail to notices their successes?  Why are some never good enough for their parents?

I look at myself every day, amazed that I walked away from my childhood the way I did- especially when I consider the fact that there are serious gaps in my memory, in one case over a year aside from a very few still-frame images burned into my mind.  Most of these gaps, when I talk with my family about them, I find are some of the more painful memories of my childhood.  I look at my past and I can see how many of the choices that myself and others made have affected me, but there are so many more that I haven't realized the consequences of, be they from choices of my accord or ones that others made.

There are choices that I make every day that I sometimes feel like I should know what will happen but, somehow, fail to.  Some choices have consequences that I may not understand or notice until many years down the road.  Why is it so difficult for some people to even think about the scope of which their actions can ripple, let alone see how it affects the people they know?

Then again, some just don't care.

What we, as humans, dismiss as our nature often baffles me, and yet I still strive to understand it.  Maybe some day I will, but for now, I find myself at a loss for any other word than "why?"