This I Believe

Claire - Kensington, Maryland
Entered on October 7, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in changing the things you can and accepting the things you can’t. I came to believe this by realizing I didn’t want my own troubled childhood to cripple me the way my father’s childhood crippled him

My dad has always been a difficult person to live with. This was sometimes due to his very rough childhood. When he was little he suffered from dyslexia which was rarely diagnosed in the sixties. In the eighth grade, his teacher told my grandparents that he was mentally retarded because they didn’t know what was wrong with him. My grandparents ignored how my dad’s eyes would reverse letters and puzzle my dad’s mind until his head hurt. However, they choose to give themselves this puzzling dizzying feeling every night after several drinks. This went on for years. When my grandfather started seeing other women in a fairly obvious way, my father made some bad decisions. By sixteen he moved out. By nineteen he had fathered an illegitimate daughter. By twenty-one he read his first chapter book. These things happened. There’s no undoing them.

Ever since I was little, my dad would start stories in the middle of sentences. He would misuse complex words. He would lie about everything to sound important. I would come home from school and dread the moment he would turn to me with those excited blue eyes and say “Guess what happened today?” This was always the introduction for a lengthy story full of improper grammar, curse words, characters I never knew, and always the lies. I would tune out and smile and nod my head. I have always hated the routine of these tedious incoherent conversations but that is how it has always been. It is a part of life that is taken for granted. The simple act of speech.

My dad has done some cruel things to me growing up, some that are hard to forgive. Just last year I felt like I hated him. I hated him for his words. Sometimes they were frustrating and hard to understand and other times they were all too crystal clear. I tried to correct the way he talked, and fight back his insensitive intentions, but I have accepted that it is a part of Jan Stephan M– that I cannot change. My grandmother always says, “The opposite of love is not hate but indifference.” Therefore I am indifferent. I know that when he looks at me with malicious meaning he is still looking at the reflection of his mother, not his daughter. Acknowledging the past is not enough. You have to accept it and then apply the lessons learned to your future.

I believe in changing the things you can and accepting things you can’t. I hope my dad will believe this someday too.