The List

I really don’t want to talk about this anymore.  Is exhausting.  But I can’t let the last post stand without adding this other piece.  Although I didn’t appreciate his parenting style, my father was an overwhelmingly awesome personal role model.   It’s very confusing to be so pissed at someone you admire terribly.

My dad is unfailingly honest.  You can set your watch by his word.  He does what he believes is right and good, even if it causes him harm.  He is courageous and thoughtful and protective.

He is the only person in my life who ever told me to be unabashedly who I was and to disregard any person, himself included, who disapproved.    All my other relationships have been tempered with that nurture/relationship oriented ‘be who you are, but first do no harm’.

In a way, he was the most generous of all my relationships, because he was adamant that I not worry for him in the equation of understanding who I wanted to be.  I have put this idea to the test several times, and he is unfailingly solid in his belief, proud even if who I am is to his detriment or against his beliefs.

Of course, I am hardly ever able to pull it off in my everyday life, and he is perpetually offended at my inability to be bold and daring, my over-concern about how others might react, and my apparent shame in who I am, forever hiding my identity on nameless blogs and refusing to let anybody I know read what I write.  He doesn’t give a damn about what other people think, and he cannot comprehend why I would.

It is a strange but comforting feeling to know that although he might be hurt by the content of my last post, he would be proud of me for saying it, and for not knuckling under in an effort to save his feelings.

I also have to tell you that there was a time  I was deeply ashamed of something I had done.  It was during a period in my life I might talk to my dad once every three months or so, long-distance.  I never told him.  To the best of my knowledge,  I didn’t even hint that there was anything wrong.

One day, out of the blue, my father sent me a letter detailing about ten big mistakes he had made in his life.  I mean, these were the kind most people take to the grave.  Some of the things I had heard sideways from my mom or aunt.  Some of them I had never suspected and probably would have lived my whole life without finding out.  They were listed, with no coyness or explanation or attempt to justify them.  He didn’t mention if he suspected I had a big secret too, and he didn’t ask.  I don’t know why, of all the amazing things he’s done for me, this is the one that I wanted to tell you, but there it is.   It was a place in my life that I felt incredibly alone, and he was the person who, precisely because of who he was, was able to blow right through all my defenses and comfort me.

I am a person who is terrified of people seeing me make a mistake, or doing something wrong.  I live in perpetual fear that someone will pull back the curtain and reveal me as undeserving of whatever kudos I have accumulated.  And here is this person, the giant of my childhood, laying bare in front of me, all the things I would cripple myself not to reveal to another soul.  He did that and never once flinched or asked for anything in return or even made a big deal about what he had done.  Every time I think about that letter, it takes my breath away.  Without his influence, I would never have written anything.  Hell, even with his influence, it took until I was in my thirties to get my nerve up.

**

So.  Thank you for your comments on the last post.  Thank you Bess, thank you Amazonite, thank you Caitlin, thank you MidLyfeMama, thank you C, thank you bon, thank you Alchemilla, thank you amy, thank you Bon, thank you breakableheart.  Your comments are full of onions and most times I have to close them, half-read, and walk away from the computer so I don’t sob right there at nap time.  I am working through them slowly, trying to use their goodness and perspective.  I am so grateful.  It is very helpful when you see my flaws in logic.  What a funny thing that it is so solid in my head, but when you point it out, it falls apart like toilet paper in the rain.  You make it so I can think through things in a different way.