Monday, March 29, 2010

Bridging The Gap Between Us

Posted by Anonymous.

Everyone asks, "Aren't you afraid?"

I want to tell them that I am. But not for the reasons they think. I'm not afraid of being a young mom, of giving up the "best years of my life." It's not that, or delivery, or how my husband will handle school, work and his new son. I am afraid because I am doing the hardest thing I have ever done in my life: I am letting you back into my heart.

I thought about you every day when I was a little girl. I wondered if we had the same nose or if my hands would ever be the same shape as yours. I heard my mother cry all alone in the bathroom because she had been shamed and now had to struggle alone. It would be years before she told me about the other women, the drinking, the time you'd broken her back. At that time, I thought maybe I had asked for too much simply by asking about you. I thought she must be regretting something awful that caused you to leave her. She never said a single bad word about you. I thought you must have been the most perfect person in the world.

It's funny how even when I found out that you were nothing like the picture my mother painted, I always wanted to protect you. It didn't matter how many times the counselor at school pulled me aside and asked about my busted lip [or my broken ankle, or the bruises on my arms, or my black eye, or the cuts that later appeared on my arms...] I always had a plausible excuse. Because I loved you, and I loved that we had the same nose and the same shaped hands. My mother left me with you hoping that you had changed, thinking it was the best chance for me to grow up in a house and not in a series of apartments with her new boyfriends. I came to you hoping that you could be everything I'd dreamed a father could be. "You were a mistake," you said instead. "Just do something useful; get those dishes. Don't forget to iron my work clothes." Those were things I'd never done before, but I learned how just to make you happy. To cook, to clean, to make the best grades, to hide my tears and physical pains with a cheerful smile.

Eight years later, when they pulled you out in handcuffs, I cried. The officers asked, "Weren't you afraid?" I shook my head because I couldn't speak. Of course I wasn't afraid- you hadn't meant to shoot at me. You'd missed on purpose. You'd just been drinking again, and I didn't want you to go away. "It's okay. Put him to bed and he'll be okay tomorrow!" Oh, I pleaded. Even knowing that tomorrow you might find out that I had been hiding my pregnancy and miscarriage from you. You told me all about that boy and what he wanted, you tried to save me by banning him from our home. And when you were right, you had to make sure that I remembered for a long, long time. "Please. I don't want you to take my daddy away!" I'd take it all back- wishing you would disappear. All the self-doubts and suicide attempts. The resentment. The regret for all of those feelings. being so confused about whether I hated you so much I loved you or loving you so much I hated you. I'd swallow it back up and we could just forget it all.

They didn't listen. They placed me back with my mother, who cried and cried when she saw my arms and face. When she the bullet holes in the wall for herself. When she realized in full the chance that she gave me. I saw you in court and you sat next to me. "Sweetie," you said. "My God, what did I do? What have I done? Can you forgive me? Can we just forget all of this happened?" I wanted to say, "Yes, yes, let's forget and go home. I haven't even done the laundry yet and I know you need your work clothes for tonight." But my mother's lawyer screeched at you from across the room- "get AWAY From her!" My mother couldn't understand why I mourned the loss of you again. I'd lived my whole life wanting to please you and now I'd ruined my chances forever.

Five years later, when I wobbled up to your doorstep before my grandmother's funeral, I held my husband's hand so hard that he had to ask me to let go entirely. "I'm so sorry that I'm afraid" I told him, wondering what you would do. Would you scream at me? Would you throw your fists at me? Would you blame me? Or worse, would you pretend not to see me? It felt like the years of therapy had melted all away. I felt sixteen all over again, watching them shove you into the back of the police car. You answered the door and you hugged me. "I knew you'd come back, Honey. I just knew you'd forgive me." You held my hand, the one that was now not just the same shape, but the same size as yours. You blinked back tears, you talked to me for hours. You gave me Grandmother's fur coats, her handwritten recipes, money to help us get home. You begged me to keep in touch so that you could make amends. I asked my husband what he thought as we were driving home. He simply said, "Your father looks like a sad old man that can't hurt you anymore." I realized then that you'd turned 50 this past year. And indeed, perhaps you couldn't hurt me anymore.

I called you two months ago to tell you that I had made your dreams come true- I was finally able to give you the grandson you'd always wanted. A little boy after so many daughters and granddaughters. I was so scared to pick up the phone and dial those old numbers. Afraid you'd pick up and say, "I was lying all along. I can't change. I'll find you, I'll make you pay for disappointing me!" Instead, you laughed and cried and asked me all about my son. You asked if you could come to be with me when I gave birth. You asked for pictures and constant updates. I hesitantly gave you my phone number then and you even called me the other day. You scolded me so lightly for making you worry about our little family. I felt my heart seize up before you said it was only because you want everything to go perfectly. You got serious. You said, "If I could take it back, I would, you know? I did a lot of things that I'm ashamed of, and I wish I could make it up to you. The best I can say is that I am sorry; I know you don't want excuses. You don't have to trust me- but I'm glad you do. It's the best gift anyone has given me."

I hesitated last night before putting the envelope containing Jackson's ultrasounds into the mailbox. Just for a minute. And then I thought, "Why am I so afraid?" [Forget that voice that kept asking me if I would do the same things to my son, if I'd pass on my anxiety just by him being within me, if I could even do this, if you would come back into my life and hurt me so deeply again.] I pushed the letter in the box and pulled up the flag. I walked inside and I didn't dare look back. If I did, I might have run back out and snatched my son away from you. I see now what my mother was hoping for. I see now what she tried to do. And as I try to do the same thing almost two decades later, I pray for the best just like she must have done.

So, Daddy, we can still have the relationship we were supposed to. Please don't disappoint me this time. Keep your word. Make it up to me by loving my son the way you should have loved me.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

WOW I am seriously in tears right now....I don't know that I could forgive like you have but I hope and pray for you that things turn out well.

Anonymous said...

My mom was (and still often is) completely and totally shitty to me. Emotional and physical abuse were the norm. BUT...she is a good grandma to my kids. It breaks my heart she couldn't love me like that, it hurts to watch her with my kids. My kids love her too much for me to completely severe ties with her. I take one for the team so that my boys can still have her.

Anonymous said...

While I understand the desperate need for our parents to be the parents we want/need them to be, and, in turn, grandparents ... I'm sorry, but a childhood full of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of your father is not forgettable. Yes, maybe you've forgiven him, but forgetting is an entirely different matter. Perhaps you should consider that your desperate need for him to be different now, and different with your future child, should perhaps be addressed with a good therapist first, instead of putting an innocent baby within his reach without talking it through with a professional. Frankly, I'm surprised your husband is okay with this.

I wish you --and your baby-- luck and a peaceful, loving life together.

lovemyabbie@gmail.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

oh gosh I totally disagree with the previous poster. I think it's amazing that you are taking the chance. Guarded is ok, but it's possible there's been a change and you can have a relationship.
My husbands father was a horrid man and I wish there was a chance he would change. I don't know that we would ever let down our guard, but just for there to be even a glimmer of a parent there would be a wonderful blessing for my husband.
Thoughts and prayers going out to you.

Jennifer said...

please check out the hoffman institute, it is a great therapeutic tool and indeed necessary when becoming a new parent when you've been abandoned both emotionally and physically as a child.

It has brought amazing results to our family! :D

Stone Fox said...

my dear, i think you are just amazing. all that you have lived through and you haven't lost your ability to trust or your compassion. you are not that little girl who desperately needs her daddy to love her at any cost; you are a strong, strong woman who can make the right choices for herself. don't doubt yourself, you will be able to do the same and more for your baby. believe in yourself.

Anonymous said...

Forgiveness. Something our society needs more of, in my opinion. But, I urge you not to forget what he was (past tense) capable of doing. Please gaurd your son...emotionally and physically. Set safe boundaries that you are comfortable with and everyone will be satisfied!

You are doing an admirable thing. And your husband sounds like a keeper too.

Anonymous said...

Your compassion toward your father is really a lovely, heartbreaking thing to read about. I'm so sorry that you both had to go through all of this in order to get to the place where you've gotten.

My own father never abused me, but he ignored me. He still does. I honestly don't think he ever thinks about me. It hurts. I'm so glad that you have a way to heal some of your old hurts, and that your father is man enough to own up to how he hurt you, and ask for forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Congrats on your son and good luck. I don't know if I would have made the same choice, but I am glad you had a choice.

hmcc said...

OP here. To clarify, my father lives eight hours away... and I suppose that's what gives me more strength to make this choice. I am certainly not to the point where I would leave my son in his care alone, but my husband and I have come to an agreement. We can give him the opportunity to have supervised visits once a year. Dad went through a lot of therapy as part of his sentencing five years ago. I'm going to try and urge him to go back. If it doesn't work out, then it doesn't. But I can't justify shutting out my father's chance to change based on what happened to me. If I lived that way, I'd never drive again for fear of someone slamming into the side of my car.
In a way, I feel like if the past is influencing me to hide my son away... then my father is still controlling my life just as much.
But thank you guys for the support and especially the concern. Two months to go 'til he's born, so here's hoping. :)

Anonymous said...

"But I can't justify shutting out my father's chance to change based on what happened to me. If I lived that way, I'd never drive again for fear of someone slamming into the side of my car.
In a way, I feel like if the past is influencing me to hide my son away... then my father is still controlling my life just as much."

YES! Exactly, that's why my sons had a relationship with my Dad, too. (he's now passed away, and I'm very gratefull they had the chance to know their beloved Poppa.)

I too chose to live in hope and not in fear. Good for you, and I hope it works out just as well. Good luck, and hold fast to the boundaries you set.

Jason said...

Let me say that I'm a father of two girls and it seems like most of these comments are coming from women.

Your mother was very brave to leave your father, but made a disastrous mistake to reintroduce him to your life. Some people in life are just worthless. Nothing stops them from having kids. You were unlucky enough to have a loser as a father. Sorry, it happens sometimes.

He has a record of physical assault on both you and your mother. Why would you take the chance that he would change? Why would you give him the benefit of doubt? Be a good parent, and protect your children from him and harm. Grow up and realize what you want from your father is just a fairy tale and has nothing to do with reality. Run.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Jason. I grew up being beaten, burned, kicked and was damn near killed by my mother. I didn't have contact with her from the time that she kicked me out when I was 17 until I was pregnant with my first child several years later. I thought she had changed since she was seemingly happy about having a grandchild and new son-in-law. The first time she and I were alone she pushed me down a flight of stairs telling me that I didn't deserve to be a mother and that she had hoped I had a miscarriage. (I didn't. My daughter is 12 now.)

Many years later, I thought it was safe to reconnect with her because like your dad, she lived many hours away and I felt a tad bit safer with the distance between us. After all, this was my mother - the woman I look like. Enough time had passed and she seemed "fixed'. On our 3rd visit to her home, she attacked me in front of my 11 and 7 year olds, trying to kill me. (By the way, she was 54 when she did this.) My husband had to restrain her while my dad and sister watched but did nothing. She should have gone to jail, instead she will never see me or my children ever again. I will never feel safe or be happy until she is locked up for good - or is dead.

I've been taught my entire life that even though some appropriate steps are taken, apologies are made and people swear they have changed, some just are not capable of it.

Follow your gut. Don't feel obligated to reconnect or even trust someone because they are family. Praying or hoping for the best is not good enough when there are lives on the line.

none said...

Your story REALLY touched my heart!! I'm a hot mess right now!! God Bless U may he always bless ur family I will 4ever pray for U & ur family!!
U are such a Phoenix Rising!!
Njoy ur new life!!