Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Thin Red Line

First the good things. My big sis sent me a new pair of jeans for my birthday. It was a doubly good gift because they are 4 sizes smaller than the jeans she bought me for my birthday last year and they fit! Along the same thin red line**, my friend and co-worker Kim made a birthday card for me that all the Dingos signed. She said she was looking through her PC files for a picture of me to use on it, but that “all of the pictures I have of you are from… um… before and they don’t even look like you any more!” Then yesterday (proudly wearing the new jeans) as I sauntered past another coworker he said, “Hey, Shrinking Woman…” Normally I don’t bide much time with External Validation because that sneaky trickster is just too damned seductive, but dang… it sho’nuff do feel good!

Monday night Scott hooked up his old Super 8 projector and we watched some of his family movies from the late 50’s, early 60’s. I always enjoy peering into the past of people I love. From all appearances it was an idyllic childhood. They grew up in this glorious state with parents who were open to adventure and exploration, and who encouraged their children to learn, do and become – all the while having a pretty good time. Last night I overheard Scott talking to his Dad and telling him what a great life he (his Dad) had and how cool it was that they’d done all the things they’ve done. When he hung up I asked him, “Do you understand how absolutely fortunate you were as a kid? I’m not saying that as a way of chastising you or anything, but because… I don’t know. It’s just that my childhood was pretty much diametrically opposed to what you seem to have experienced.” He assured me that he’s well aware of how great his early years were – and I don’t doubt it considering what a fine human being he is as an adult.

But, it made me sad, and pensive, and… and angry, dammit… because it got me thinking about my own childhood. I’d say I’m about 98% healed from anything that happened to me then, but just like the nasty scar on my left leg, every now and then something gets nudged just the right (wrong) way and there is searing pain for a brief while all over again. Last night was one of those times. I ended up in a total meltdown over my childhood – something that hasn’t happened to me in a good, oh, 10 or more years. I don’t share this stuff much because a) it is in the past; b) it is very personal; c) I don’t want or need anyone’s sympathy. But I was so angry at my Dad. How many times in my early life did I hear him say to all of us at some point, “You’re no damned good.” He belittled and said horrible, unspeakable things to my Mother. He raged at my older brothers. Hell, he raged at all of us. One could argue that the alcohol was the culprit, and more often than not, it probably was. However, he was sober on plenty of those occasions. Sober enough to know that his children were terrified of him. That’s what angered me last night. How could a man know that his own children were terrified of him, cowering from him, and not want or try to do something about it? If I ever saw a child in that state as a result of something I did or said… I don’t know… I think I’d want myself taken out.

It’s the hardest thing to forgive. I think I have. But the anger is still there. I miss him, I hate him, I miss him, I love him. Mostly, I’d like to have him back for maybe just long enough for me to scream at him, “What the fuck were you thinking?!” Or maybe I’d just… I don’t know… crumble. Like I did last night once my own rage was spent (way out there, no one can hear ya scream).

I know I’ve said it, and I mean it; I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m who I am now because I was who I was then. Still, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the girl who thought she was the ugly monster when all along the monster was the one leading the dance.

It was a thin red line**, but somehow she held ground. Somehow she rallied. Somehow… she’s just right.

** Per Wikipedia: The Thin Red Line is a term for a thinly spread military unit holding firm against attack. The phrase later took on the metaphorical meaning of the barrier which the relatively limited armed forces of a country present to potential attackers.

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