I remember watching through blurry eyes as my father fought my older brother. I cried in the corner of the kitchen as my sister screamed for them to stop. My baby brother, who was no more than six at the time, tried to console me. He stood bravely by my side with dry eyes as they rolled around on the floor, attacking one another for reasons so stupid I can’t even remember them anymore.
This wasn’t the first time they had argued, nor was it the first time the actions of my father had negative effects on the people around him. Fights like this one took place more than once. But most of the bruises that he inflicted were emotional, not physical.
My parents divorced when I was 10 years old, but their separation didn’t instantly get rid of the marks left by my father. Because of his financial negligence, the house I had known since birth was taken away from us. For a while, my three brothers, my sister, my mother and I lived with our next-door neighbor – scattered throughout her tiny apartment, which already housed a dog and an infant, like dirty laundry.
My mother is one of the kindest, gentlest people I know. Yet there were times when she’d become so infuriated at my father that she would rip dishes out of the cabinets and shatter them on the floor – like when he’d refuse to pay child support, or would make up the kind of excuses a 2nd grader could top. As the years passed, it always seemed like the moment my mother’s hard work and dedication was paying off another blow from my father would knock us off our feet.
In 2005, he had a stroke and could no longer work. Consequentially, the debt collectors came knocking on our door instead of his. Like a sudden summer storm, my mother never saw it coming.
I watched her struggle. I’d listen as she’d curse his name a thousand times over. Sometimes she’d become completely exhausted and hopeless. Other times she’d become so enraged at the unfairness of it all that I swore I could see the emotion spilling out of her like the smoke from a blazing inferno – it blinded, burned and choked.
To me, it seemed like my mother was caught up in the negativity of my father. She hasn’t let herself move beyond his actions. This is why I believe in letting go.
My father passed away in February, and since then, the bad memories have begun to fade and the good ones have become more noticeable. He made our lives much more difficult then they had to be, but in his own stubborn, selfish way he loved us. So even though my family is still dealing with the effects of his actions, I’m willing to let the negative memories fade.
My mother doesn’t understand how I can do this. She still gets angry over the things that he did, and perhaps rightfully so. But I believe in letting go because I’m not willing to get caught – I can’t change the past, and everything that’s ever happened has brought me to where I am today. And if I don’t let go, the bruises won’t ever heal, and like the shattered plates that were thrown across the floor, there’s no way to ever be whole again.
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