Posts Tagged ‘father’

I started writing this the day before my dad’s 61st birthday. I had a rough childhood. I don’t mean that as a cliche, I mean that as a definite fact. There were times when I cried so hard for so long that my parents worried about me. I was teased to the point of insanity and I had motor problems that caused me to be seen as an outsider.

The emotional pressure from growing up in such harsh conditions was more than my mind could bear and I became an island. I shut off my emotions, I shut out the world and I festered in a dark corner of my mind, shunning sunlight for fear of getting sunburnt. My Asperger’s didn’t help this situation one bit and I became damaged beyond my ability to repair.

When my emotions did show up they manifested themselves as manic joy, crying fits, and powerful rage. I was stubborn about my worldview where I thought I was the one that had to fix a world that was clearly broken. When my dad challenged me to change, I fought back with a stubbornness that could cause a mule to try and find another path.

It was my father that met my stubbornness with a stubbornness nearly equal to my own. We gnashed our teeth, yelled, screamed and threatened until both of us were exhausted. It took a while for my dad to learn that taking me head on just didn’t work.

It wasn’t long after that that he started to show compassion and understanding. He started learning to keep his temper at bay. At first, it was a tenuous balance that he held. One confrontation would happen without him reaching my level of upset, only to be followed by another where he lost his temper. He made it a bit further before he realized that we needed outside help.

Patience was the next virtue that I tested in my father. For many months, I refused to go see a psychologist with him. I honestly thought that I had all the answers and that people who couldn’t see that were fools. Well, that’s the way I acted, that’s the play I put on so that I could forget how I actually felt about myself. The truth was that I thought I was worthless no matter what I accomplished or how much I told myself that I was the most brilliant person that ever walked upon this planet.

Before my dad could convince me to get professional help, we had a fight that scared both of us. I said things that I would still regret if I hadn’t learned how to let things go. My dad wasn’t proud of himself either. Hours later we apologized to each other and started to cry. I needed no more convincing and we started to see someone.

That’s when things started to get better for me. Together with my father, we worked on our communication. Instead of accusing each other over and over again until both of us were in a rage, we learned how to talk about our emotions without angering each other. I eventually saw a psychiatrist and got help with my panic attacks. That further improved things.

I saw a psychologist on my own for a while after my sessions with my father present had done all they could. My worldview was broken down and reconstructed into something I could sustain. During this time, my dad found meditation and developed his own healthier way of looking at life. When I was finished with my psychologist, my dad started to share his healthier view with me.

He told me to live in the moment. I didn’t know what that meant at first, but now I use that thinking whenever I get too fixated on the past or future. The truth is now is the only time you can be happy. If it’s the past, you were happy and if it’s the future you will be happy. It makes it very hard to be happy right now if you’re stuck regretting a decision you made or wishing things were different. I learned to plan for the future and learn from the past, but then let things be. There is only so much learning or planning I can do before I’m just wasting my time and mental effort.

I took what I could from the meditation he taught me and applied it to when I’m having panic attacks. When my mind becomes obsessive or panics I’m able to focus on quieting it.

When my dad went away on trips, he used to joke that he might die in a car or plane crash while he was gone. Those jokes inadvertently taught me about the transience of life and caused me to cherish each day even more. I might not have tomorrow. I might not be here five minutes from now. Carrying around regrets or wishing for something else limits my ability to use the time I have.