My parents divorced when I was almost 6-years old. I was thrilled. My dad was a jerk, a monster; the kind of guy that you couldn’t wait to leave the room because the tension smelled of chalk and fish.
Outside in the light of daily life, the monster I knew morphed into a human, a modern day werewolf. He was a chameleon that fooled the world into knowing him as funny, jovial with a glint of fury in his eyes. Neighbors knew more; the pastor could see the rage, and family, well, the genes did not fall far from the tree. He knew how to laugh.
You would be correct in saying that there was no love lost for me the day that mom and father split. A teacher by day, he was a bastard at night; a coward that beat, yelled and hurled my mom across the home because he could not rest his soul, his heart, his past. Stairs were his passageway to see how far mom could tumble. Imagine watching daddy in a frenzy trying to silence mom. Pain was served for all that night. Am I also a monster?
The only respites were his weekends away to fish for food and women and dignity. No dancing. No singing. Just a wished for peace for 36 hours until the stench would waft through the garage door. I was not sad that day when mom called the police to protect her from the crazed demon, furious that she bought groceries. I was not sad that night when she left; everyone understood.
But what no one understood at the time was why a man with so much could be so violent, angry, hateful, pissed. The gift of 20/20 has removed the shadow, but not the aching. Unloved. Unworthy. Incapable of believing that he mattered to his sons, wife, world. He hid his fears the only way he was shown with a punch, slap and bellow. He was in pain for not having been hugged; his loving touches were open handed. A boy who was told he was nothing and proved it time and again. He wasn’t angry at us; he was angry that he was a waste. And how dare we try to prove him wrong.
My vision has gotten better with age. The monster I knew was no longer scary; all he wanted was a hug and to know that he was loved and worthy. And despite my best efforts to keep the monster alive, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t allow his pain to fuel my potential demon. So I hug him. I tell him I love him, and I show him that he is worthy. Not to drown my monster, but to continue to prove him wrong. I’m evil like that.
My dad taught me many things, most unimportant in daily life, but the greatest lesson he taught me was the ability to look beyond the obvious, to see that pain and hurt manifest in different ways. A cry for help is not always obvious, and it can hurt. My vision has helped me know that what we need isn’t what we ask for; it is a hug from our parents, to see that we matter, and to hear that we are loved. Simple enough, we are social apes. If, for some reason, this didn’t happen for you, don’t wait. Hug a friend. Show someone that they matter, and tell those closest to you that you love them. The cycle stops when we make the choice to do something different. If all else fails, find me.
I have a bear hug waiting for you.