This I Believe
My father never spoke to me. I grew up thinking my dad hated me and didn’t love me. , I learned the truth behind the power of speech. I learned that without speech, people would never understand how much you truly love them.
I believe in the power of speech. Speech has the power to destroy relationships, to build nations or start wars. If the founding fathers hadn’t spoken out, no revolution would have occurred. With a single word your emotions can be expressed and with one remark you can ruin any chance of ever building a relationship. Our lives are surrounded by words and thus everyday we are affected by what someone says; or doesn’t say.
My family moved nine times in the course of my childhood. Moving every two to three years, forced me change schools and start over with friendships. At first I was excited to be moving. The thought of new people to meet, a new house and a new school sustained me. Then I began to realize that I was unusual. None of the people I became friends with had ever moved as much as I had. My father was the reason we moved. Job after job we had to keep moving on after being let go, or simply being lied to. Once I hit my teenager years I began to move away from true friends and people that I cared about. And once again I would have to start over, moving on with my life and forgetting about friends I would never see again. My final move was to Wisconsin, which moved me a thousand miles away from my entire family, my friends and my awesome school. That final move triggered a depression because I felt so alone and that my life was worthless.
My father saw how horrible I was feeling and how difficult this move had been on me. He had blamed himself for not being able to sustain his family. But he still did not talk to me. Then, after about a year and a half in Wisconsin, I found myself loving my friends, the new schools and even the environment. Finally I was happy and felt secure. I felt that at last that I belonged somewhere. Maybe for those reasons, my father began to open up to me.
For the last 15 years of my life I had come to live with the fact that my father and I would probably never be able to speak to each other. Then, one night in the middle of February, the ice was broken and we finally began a long journey to begin to understand each other. We talked about sports, went golfing, eat junk food at two in the morning watching some random movie on T.V. My dad was at last, loving me in a way that I could understand.
The power of speech is never really understood until it isn’t there. And because I lived without love from my father I have a unique view on speech. Words can represent who we are or they can represent someone who we want to be. My father wanted to be as his father was, a strong anchor in life. My fathers lack of communication allowed him to be that anchor. I needed a dad, not an anchor and I believe my father realized that and dropped his mask. My dad loved me.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.