Fourth of July is one of those holidays I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, I'm a big fan of any occasion that brings tons of tourists to town so I can walk around and be obnoxious while drinking in public. On the other hand, I have a myriad of terrible childhood memories that involve my father getting crazy wasted and blasting off fireworks until the cops show up - often not even on the fourth. It was more like a week-long holiday to him.
I've been thinking about my father a lot lately. The other day, I played Mario Kart 64, determined to beat it. I had given up right before finishing it because it got too hard. A little high and relaxed as a result, I seemed to handle it better whenever DK passed me. Lloyd always played as DK, mimicking his obnoxious monkey sounds and chanting, "Nobody beats the monkey!"
Instead, I calmly saved my red shell for when he was in clear view, just a few paces in front of me. I'd hear his anguished cry and smile to myself. Quietly I'd say to no one, "Fuck you, Dad."
The older I get, the less angry I am. The wiser I get, the more I understand. My father was, and likely still is, ill. What exactly is wrong with him I'm not entirely sure but the combination of his mental health issues combined with his brain melting from years of intense alcohol abuse have made him into a broken person.
The last time I spoke to him was around Christmas time. Nicholas and I were broke and me deciding I should call my father in a last ditch effort to pull ourselves out of crushing debt is a sign of how desperate we were. The specifics of the conversation are lost to me but I hung up with an overwhelming sense of pity. According to my mother, Lloyd used to be incredibly intelligent. Straight A student with a crazy work ethic, juggling three jobs when they moved to Chicago. You'd never be able to tell that from the severely fucked up talk I had with him.
My father is mostly to blame for my anxiety and depression issues. Interestingly, my brother recently said that Lloyd's drinking didn't bother him. Considering the calls to the cops, the TV being thrown, Lloyd shitting his pants or even on the walls and ceilings of the bathroom, trying to "test" the temperature of the fire on the stove with a meat thermometer, the blaring music all night, the strangers who came over each night to party and sometimes left with our stuff, the men who'd end up sleeping in our rooms or on our couch - I find this very hard to believe.
My mother was clever enough to get Tyler and I out of the house as often as possible so we missed a majority of the insanity but the idea that my brother could be totally okay with the activity that caused my father's mind to melt so much that he eventually accused my mother and brother of plotting a murder along with the accusation that my brother and I were sleeping together (if you don't think that's messed up enough, consider the fact I was eight or nine), is beyond my comprehension.
I used to hate my father. Now I just feel sorry for him. He could have been a great person but instead he's just wasting away in Aurora, Illinois having accomplished basically nothing other than causing irreparable damage to his first two children.
Having been on my anxiety meds for a couple weeks now, I'm starting to be able to really look at and try to analyze the source of my fear. Unsurprisingly, most of it has to do with my father. Really, I think I knew this all along but was too afraid to really try and confront it. After all, there was a tense moment during my last psychedelic trip when I thoughtlessly made a comment about my father, then my husband and I both paused, and I could see myself closing the door that I had just opened. Yet it had been too late. Much like Pandora's box, many terrors escaped before I had managed to close them in. And soon after, on Thanksgiving, I had my first full-blown panic attack.
I've come a long way since then. Though it's not always easy, I'm glad I'm back on medication. It's allowing me to feel more in control even when I'm facing the very issues that take the air out of my lungs and the blood out of my veins. Eventually, maybe, I can go without them but I'm not ashamed or upset about having to take them to feel normal. It's like any other medication.
I used to abuse and belittle myself but no longer. I deserve love and I deserve to be taken care of - everyone does. Even Lloyd, who instead of nurturing his children, abused and neglected them. If we choose to respond to hate and negativity with love and positivity, maybe we can end the cycle. At the very worst, the world would have a little less dark energy in it. And honestly, is that such a bad thing?