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.


  1. James, life is very much like that. There is good and bad in all of us. Don't be too hard on yourself, or on others. We all make mistakes, there are none of us perfect. But I have come to realize in my great old age, that most of us really are doing the best we can with the information that we have available. We are all in a different place. Sometimes, the hurts that we endure, whether caused by someone else or by ourselves, help to mold us to be better people. Of all the bad things that I have been through, I can honestly say that I would not change any of them. The person I am today is very much a product of the hard times that I have endured. Just wanted you to know that you are loved and thought about often. Perhaps giving you your space was not a great idea on my part. For that, I am truly sorry. I hope that you will forgive me for not being there when you needed family. You are a pretty amazing young man, and talented too! So glad to see this post and your willingness to look at things from a different direction. I do love you very much.
    Aunt Patty.

  2. You are amazing! Have you ever thought of going into a counseling field? (Seriously - you are able to observe and identify in very profound ways . . . I think you could do a lot of good - for yourself and others, even if it was just on a volunteer basis at the local boys/girls club.) Anyway, I agree with Patty - she has great insight into herself and then has branched out to share with all of us. On another note, your writing style is fabulous! I hope you are looking at doing more than blogging with your talent (though I don't, by any stretch of the imagination, demean blogging). Your insights expressed here sometimes take people a lifetime to achieve . . . your ability to discover these truths about yourself (though I agree with Patty that you may be a little harsher on yourself here than you need be - don't break your arm with self-flagellation)- your grandpa was nearly 40 when he came to these realizations. We all hurt people around us - mostly without meaning to - but, at least here, we are family. You have the support of an amazing network, including some you have yet to meet. And we are all with you (OK, some are behind you pushing and others are in front, leading - or trying to lead - but we're in it together). I am blessed to call you grandson! My love to Jen (what a treasure she is in your life).
    Grandma Jean