I know, it's an old story. You've heard about it before. But I gotta write something down or I'll never get over it.
If you don't want to hear about my father then skip the entry.
Father's Day gives me mixed feelings. Mostly because I have mixed feelings about my father.
I mean--what am I supposed to do on this day, again? And then a more important question--all customs aside--what does he really want from us? And then, finally, the most important question boiling deep down inside myself: what if I can't make or do or say what he wants me to?
It's not just that I've such a tiny, almost nonexistent desire to show affection toward this man. It's more that I'm afraid he's impervious to my affection, that he will reject it with the wave of a hand and a big booming voice, that he will sweep my efforts away under the rug as he gets up to turn on the World Cup game.
Because, you know, I could just fake my affection and learn to feel something for the guy. I wish I could, too. It'd make things so much easier.
Despite all my egoism, vanity, and haughtiness, my father can make me feel absolutely worthless. He can reduce me to a small speck in the gigantically cruel universe, a stupid little girl who doesn't deserve a thing. Though he's never outright said "you are worthless," I just sort of assumed that he meant that when I pieced together everything he's said. I mean, he's said, "get out of my house, you are not my daughter" and "why can't you just do this one thing? This ONE THING, you stupid cow." He storms and kicks and scolds. In the wake of his shouting and yelling I can feel a hot, ugly bristle heavy in the air, a demeaning mix of animosity and guilt raining upon my shoulders.
And then he swings into these terrible, unpredictable moods where he's suddenly happy, suddenly nice, suddenly tender, suddenly human. He wants to buy me things. He wants to give me money. He squeezes my neck with a broad smile, and taps the desk with one purposeful finger: "good job on your report card, girl." Or "so you got all these awards, eh?"
In light of these two very different views of my father, I decided on one infallible approach: apathy. I wouldn't react when he yelled at me, which was more often than he praised me. It was a good defense mechanism because, after his screams, I'd mostly be able to continue writing a discourse on European art in the 1700s. I could, instead, get lost in the blue brocaded cushions of a French chair. I could imagine myself marveling at human craft in the Getty again. I could, instead, triumph over my math homework. I could empower myself through learning and knowledge, and then who gives a flying fuck what my father says. By the time I'd thought about it again, it was already time to go to school and listen to the sweet song of teacher praise.
Some of these teachers saved my life, built me up when there was no one else around who wanted to do the job.
But as is evident in this entire entry, I didn't do very well with the apathetic approach. I honestly tried very, very hard to not give a flying fuck. But, sometimes, after three months of real strength, I'd just break down and start to care. I'd just break down and get so fucking angry at myself for doing it. I started to cry because I couldn't take it. Not because my father did this or that, but because I didn't know how to brush it aside.
So now I'm emotionally detached, but I'ven't completely flown away yet.
So now I'm a little bitter, but not a downright cynic.
So now I hate my father, but I think I want to love him at the same time. For no reason whatsoever. I never understood why children always told their parents that they loved them, when clearly they couldn't really understand what that feeling was. I suppose I understand now--they just want something to hold on to. To depend on.
I guess I look for all these things in love, with a great man who'll cause me none of the pain my father did. At the same time, I want to be able to stand on my own--I don't want to need and cling and depend on someone else who might fail me. I just want him to help me through all of this. So that we can just fucking live together unafraid of this goddamn monster of mine. In the "maddeningly complex prospect of my past," as Nabokov would have said.
All of it is a struggle of two things, where the answer turns out to be floating somewhere above, in the middle of what I thought were my two options. Two opposing poles. Ambivalence. What should I choose? What will work?
Anyway, I'm done. Maybe I'll go for a run now.