Day Seven – November 29, 2017
Today I am thankful for the things I learned from my father.
Those who know me, and him, will find that statement strange. My father was an angry, bitter man who tried to control everyone in his life. I’ve tried to figure out why he was that way and can only attribute it to a lack of introspection and an absence of any sense of how his actions impacted others. His selfish view of the world meant that if anyone disagreed with him, caused him any ’embarrassment’, or wouldn’t do exactly what he wanted – when he wanted it done – he would push them out of his life.
Most often his anger arose from a skewed sense of logic. For example, he once called me on a Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church to berate me about the newspaper not being delivered to my mother. My Mom loved getting the Sunday paper and would read it from cover to cover so I had gotten her a year’s subscription as a Christmas present. In my father’s eyes I was personally responsible for the failed delivery that morning. Later, as we drove to church my husband at the time asked me a question I had never thought to ask myself. “How did you turn out to be such a compassionate person growing up around him?” The answer was that I never wanted to make anyone feel the way he made me, and others, feel.
I am fortunate that I was always a sensitive child. Because even though his rage damaged me in ways which I will live with all my life I developed empathy and compassion I might otherwise have been without. When I left home I even made a conscious decision to begin trying to strengthen our family by always hugging my parents and siblings and telling them I loved them. We were not a naturally affectionate family (that will also come as a surprise to my friends who know that I am a ‘hugger’). I tried to bring love and affection into a family that had developed in the fog of my father’s temper and lack of empathy. People who knew him outside of the home thought he was a great guy and he managed to avoid showing the dark side of his personality to others until much later in life.
I speak of him in the past tense because, while he is physically alive, the malevolence that made him omit my sisters and myself from my Mother’s obituary this week, has finally released me. He can no longer hurt me because my Mother is, at last, free of him and since I no longer have to worry about her I am free as well. (I also can’t deny that large part of who I am came from her positive influence in my life.)
His bitterness is not my bitterness. His anger will not filter into my life again. I am thankful that the lessons I learned at his hand made me, I hope, a better person.
If you’ve had to endure toxic people in your life try to find a path that leads you away from that behavior. Choose the opposite actions. Be the best version of you!