Trading Resentment for Regret
I've never really understood my father. He's a complicated person. His emotional scars are numerous and violently exposed. Like all troubled souls those scars run very deep indeed.
We've never seen eye to eye. I dismissed him at an early age as the example of everything I didn't want to be; crude, loud, aggressive, and extremely judgemental. Harsh, almost savagely vengeful. Unforgiveably right-wing. Full of undirected, self-consuming anger.
He seemed to be the very embodiment of the worst kind of angry racism, sexism, homophobia, general intolerance and arbitrary discrimination that makes for good reactionary politics. That others, including almost everyone we knew, didn't agree with him he put down to stupidity or blindness. In his own children, of course, it was "communist" teachers.
I didn't have an easy adolescence. Teenagers are trying on any family, but in ours, my increasingly confrontational relationship with my father quickly degenerated into the apocalyptic. He sensed my thinly disguised contempt and responded by constantly humiliating me. I was little better; a self-absorbed, arrogant and naive child.
I remember a different man. A proud father with his young son, snow-forts in long winters, camping, stories late into the night. And it's not just memories. There are countless photographs to prove this man existed. And he's still there, as his reaching eyes often show, though his tongue remains frustratingly still.
So what happened? I've no idea. If I knew, I'd be the greatest pop-psychology guru on the lecture circuit. Howl-in-the-woods men's groups would have the answers to their most frequently asked questions.
... middle of paper ...
... imagining things I think we communicated, as best as two adults with almost no common interests can manage.
Wait, no, we do have at least one common interest. He's my father, and I'm his son.
Letting go of the bitterness is hard, and takes a lot of time, but I've managed to shrug away enough of it to admit a few things to myself. In many ways, my father and I are similar. We're both direct. We're both forward. And we're both as stubborn as grazing camels. And I might finally be able to take solace in that we've been slowly but surely building a bridge.
Resentment and anger are easy. People cultivate those parasites with ease. But regret, regret lies on you like an unshakeable weight, subtle and undeniable, an ever-present background theme. If I'm not careful, soon I'll have traded opportunity for resentment, and resentment for regret.
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