…and moving on.

This is the other half of the post I was going to write Sunday. I just got so wrapped up in my good feelings about being in the house, and looking around to see all of the possibilities, that I decided to put off the other feelings running through my head.

A lot of my time and energy has been taken up lately with thoughts about my father – disappointment, resentment, memories bubbling up to the surface in recognition of a pattern that he refuses to change and I finally refuse to put up with. I wrote him a 14 1/2 page letter, a history of abuses starting when I was 10 and hinting at those that came before. It took me a day and a half, with pauses for actually living my life of course, and as I moved further from the beginning I started once again to question whether it would do any good to even get my thoughts on paper.

I’m moving on now.

I read the letter to Brian, and to my mom and grandma, the latter two of whom have actually encouraged me to send it to him sans edit. At first they were concerned that in my hormonal state I may end up burning a bridge that I’d rather just rope off for construction, but there were a few surprises in that letter that even Grammy didn’t know. Now, she’s standing at my side with a match.

I still won’t send it. What good will it do? I know who I’m dealing with – he will either directly contradict or attempt to rationalize every point I make. It’s not my business, I don’t know how difficult things are for him, I misunderstood him, I caused it. He’s incapable of any interaction in which he isn’t gaslighting someone, so I understand that any expectation of acknowledgement is just as far-fetched as any hope of an apology.

Instead, I blocked his number from my phone. I’m sure he’s already forgotten where I live, and with the support of my family I know that he won’t be able to reach me. Let him wonder, if he will, what I’m doing and how my life is without him. Let him be bitter, or angry, or sorry, but let him be so on his own. After nearly 27 years of giving without receiving, I am denying him the closure that he would continue to deny me.

Turnabout, after all, is fair play.

When I catch myself wondering about him, or thinking about him, or I see his face in our wedding photos on the wall (before I paste Patrick Stewart over them, of course), I will try my best to stop and refocus that energy on all the positive things going on. It’ll take some time…but I’ll find peace without him.

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Now I’m writing just to let you know I’m still alive

Hey dad, I’m writing to you
Not to tell you that I still hate you
Just to ask you how you feel
And how we fell apart
How this fell apart…

When you lay your head down
How do you sleep at night?
Do you even wonder if we’re alright?
But we’re alright

My brother turned me on to Good Charlotte back when The Young and the Hopeless first came out. It’s still in my top 25-ish favorite records of all time, because my music taste defies genre (and, by the standards of many, decent taste). I used to skip over “Emotionless” because it was such a sad-sounding song, but when everything did fall apart in 2004 I turned it on and turned it up – on constant repeat.

Tonight, I’m doing it again.

My dad called me while I was packing Friday night. I let it roll to voicemail, since we have (now less than) two weeks to get everything ready to go. What did he want? To know if I would do his taxes. Only after he told me what I could do for him did he add, a mere afterthought, that he hopes Arthur and I, and “that guy [I’m] married to, what’s his name” (a pathetic joke), are doing alright.

We’re alright…

It’s been a long hard road without you by my side
Why weren’t you there all the nights that we cried
You broke my mother’s heart, you broke your children for life
It’s not okay, but we’re alright
I remember the days you were a hero in my eyes
But those are just a long lost memory of mine
Now I’m writing just to let you know I’m still alive
I’m still alive

I wish I could go back to the time in my life when I didn’t know – or could ignore – the conditions he places on his love. I have to go back a long way…further than even my memory will take me. It seems that his fondest declarations of love came out of a bottle or a jail cell. The rest of the time, I think we were just the little people in his life who just needed more from him than he was willing to give.

When people would ask me who my dad is, I would tell them the story of how he took up a collection at work after he read a letter to the editor in the newspaper about a little girl whose birthday money was stolen from a public restroom, where she left it on the counter. But that man…that man doesn’t jive with the picture of my father I have in my head. A gunshot hole in the wall by the stairs. A pointed finger jabbing into my sternum. Hate in his eyes. Staring down a gun. And now, it’s only ever about what I can do for him.

There’s things I’ll take to my grave, but I’m okay…

I don’t know the man who wears my daddy’s face and speaks with his voice. I ache to have my daddy back, to believe that he really wants to know how I’m doing, that he really cares. More now than ever before, as Brian and I take our first fumbling steps into parenthood, I think that I could really use my daddy. But I don’t think he was ever really there.

And now I mourn at an empty grave, in a quiet spot that exists only in the corners of my mind – like the man I thought my dad was.

And sometimes I forgive
Yeah and this time, I’ll admit
That I miss you, said I miss you…

All I want is to say goodbye.

(Italicized lyrics from “Emotionless”, written by Benji & Joel Madden and performed by Good Charlotte, (c) 2002)