May 16, 2013
To Dad, With Love:
I pulled the oldest out of school today. We needed to do something different. I needed to do something different. I’ve been stuck in a depressive rut for the last, I don’t know-months. I’m crabby times 100; I’m walking through days on the edge of insanity; I’m nearing a nervous breakdown; a powder keg primed and itching to blow. (Sorry…I don’t know how else to write it except with that rubbish). Today was the day because last night was the night. Last night I blew over nothing. I yelled at her and she cried. She panicked, would have done anything to please me and make it stop. It didn’t last long; I was back in control in a minute. But it will haunt me for a long, long time. And I know you know what I mean.
You probably aren’t surprised that this episode reminded me of you. But I want to tell you that it wasn’t for the reason you may think-I wasn’t ashamed that I had repeated what must be some of your more humiliating episodes. I thought of you because I understand you. I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately and this reinforced what I had assumed: there but for the grace of god go I. Or rather: there but for a few small but key circumstances go I. I’m on two anti-depressants and I acted like a fool. What could you have done had your illness been addressed? You were so close to pulling it off. What could you have done with the freedom I have, the freedom to explore your mind? You had the suffocating burden of this illness and had to provide for a family. What would I be now if I was staring down the barrel of a lifetime of that responsibility? You’ve said you are proud of what I’ve become. Am I not what you could have been if a few zigs had zagged instead?
Anyway, here I am now, needing to do what you couldn’t. I need to fix myself before I lose the only things that really matter. And of course I have what I like to think is a better than fighting chance because I have all those things that you didn’t. Listen to this now…I’ve said it before and meant it but I REALLY mean it now. I forgive you. I know that our past had nothing to do with me and everything to do with you; that you were yelling into the yawning, starving mouth in your soul, “You are a piece of shit! You are a fraud! You can’t do this! You’ll never make it!” One of the things that makes my situation different than yours is that I know that’s what I’m now yelling and I don’t think you did. And because I do know that I was able to take the kids out to lunch and say, “Daddy did a terrible thing yesterday. I scared you and I’m supposed to protect you. And I’m more sorry than you can possibly imagine. I want you to know this: my yelling was about me, not you. You did nothing wrong. I did. And it’s my job to fix it.”