Silence is Not Always Golden

SilenceMaybe it was his upbringing. His alcoholic dad. His parent’s divorce. Maybe it was WWII. Maybe it was the so-called friend who sold his cabinet shop while he was fighting the war. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Whatever it was, I’ve spent a lifetime trying to figure it all out. Like: why did he just sit and stare? What was he thinking about? What did he see?

He was a good man. Didn’t drink. Didn’t cuss. Didn’t scream and yell and never, ever lost his cool. He was gentle and quiet and patient and sometimes extremely funny. Yet, I was afraid of him. Afraid of doing something wrong. Afraid of his scornful frown. Afraid of making too much noise, of asking too many questions, of sitting on his lap and hugging his neck. Afraid of his cold, stark, overpowering, confusing, excessive silence.

I concluded that my dad didn’t love me; that I was stupid and ugly. So, to protect my sensitive, fragile emotions, I decided that I didn’t need him and gradually built a wall between us. By the time I became a teen, I terribly resented and rebelled against my dad. That, along with my dad’s laziness about working a regular job, my mother working three jobs and flying off the handle every other day, our house became a war zone.

Sadly, between the wall I built, and my misguided conclusions, I blamed our shattered, dysfunctional lives all on my dad.

If I had the chance to do it over again, I would sit on his lap, hug his neck and tell him how much I love him. I would understand that the war shattered his soul and that silence was his haven. I would encourage him to talk to me, to share his thoughts with me, and tell me what he’s feeling. I’d see my dad as a pillar of strength instead of the weakling I made him out to be. I would hold his hand and tell him how proud I am of him and that I love him just the way he is.

Through years of counseling and healing I now realize that not everyone is capable of loving us the way we want to be loved. Not everyone can meet all our needs. We are all human, and we are all a product of the environment in which we were raised. We all have a responsibility to work through our troubling pasts.

I thank God for opening my eyes, for healing my shattered heart, and helping me to forgive and move on with my life. I just wish it hadn’t taken so long.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

 

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy

Okay, daddy. Since we never went on a coffee date before or even shared an intimate moment anywhere together for that matter, I’m taking you out. Just in my mind of course; you’d never come any other way.

So where’s it going to be, Starbuck’s? I forgot. Instant Nescafe’. Hot water straight from the spigot with creamer and sugar in that coffee-stained cup you yelled at me for washing one day. Okay then, let’s just have coffee in the kitchen in the old house where we used to live a long time ago. Doesn’t matter to me, I just want to talk to you.

I’m sorry for rebelling against you in those troublesome, adolescent years. I was just a kid and didn’t understand your cryptic silence. And on those rare occasions when you arose from the tomb, I didn’t understand your dry wit. I thought you were laughing at me because I was stupid or because you didn’t love me.

That hurt me.

A lot.

And I wanted to hurt you back.

I just wish that one time you had held me in your arms and said you were sorry for making me cry; that you had poked your head into my shattered world and seen how much I needed your love and protection. Instead, you crawled into a tomb of apathy; dead to my fears and tender emotions.

There’s so many things you didn’t know about me, daddy. Like how I wanted to be your daddy’s girl; for you to hold me on your lap and tell me that I was beautiful and smart and funny; for you to meet my first date at the front door with a Smith and Wesson, and took a ball bat to my X-husband the first time he hit me. When my tiny baby was born too early and I thought he would die, I wanted you to hold me and tell me everything would be okay.

But, you never did.

But, that’s okay daddy, I didn’t invite you here to condemn you; I’ve done enough of that throughout my life. I just want you to know that in spite of your lack of concern, I learned to stand on my own two feet. I faced the demons of anger and rage. I’ve survived the tormenting feelings of rejection and worthlessness; the stabbing pain of loneliness and grief.

So thank you for meeting with me today and allowing me one fragmented moment of the rest of your time in eternity. And before you fade into the shadows of my mind, I want you to know that I’m glad you were my dad. Without realizing it you taught me to be a mother and to love my son the way I wanted you to love me. Now, I am reaping a bountiful harvest of love and joy and happiness through him and his growing, loving family.

So thanks, daddy,

Happy Father’s Day