Feeling that wave wash over me on Saturday has taken me all the way back to the beginning.
My girls instinctive reaction to my sadness has taken me there again.
In order to question who and what I am and what that means to me now. Having spent a lot of time and effort dealing with my beginnings and feeling so at peace with that, there is a lot of learning in it. I have resolved so much in that time of my life that is helping me now.
Going back to the core of what and who I am.
I was my dads favourite. Why? Because, I think, despite how much he hurt me I loved him. So very much. With all my heart. And so very visibly. Whatever he did to make me sad a moment later when he was less angry, I would sit at his side and hold his hand.
My mum said that it made her sad watching me give him love she didn’t think he deserved. She who is the sweetest, kindest most caring person. Years ago she told me that when I was little he said that he worried whether I would survive in the world because I was too soft. My mum said that she never worried. She knew I was very gentle and loving but she also knew I was very strong.
Much stronger than her she told me.
Was he toughening me up? Tough love. If I could survive him I could survive anything.
But I always believed that he loved me. He just didn’t have the ability to show it. He just didn’t know how to. And yet in those moments where I held his hand I felt he so wanted to be loved. Desperately.
I was like a ltttle puppy that would be kicked and yelp but then run back full of love.
For years I thought there was something wrong with me for being so loving. Was I desperate for his love? No it wasn’t that. I wanted him to feel loved. I loved him and I wanted him to know it.
My mum loved me. I felt it. In all her inability to control him, she loved us. With every bone in her body. And I felt really loved by her.
But he was cold and distant other than those moments when I held his hand. He would ignore me but still let his hand be held and every now and then just look at me. He felt that love and it made me happy.
My older brother and sister are very different to me. They are much harder and can flick a switch that makes them not care.
My younger bro is also different to me but he is super protective of me. He remembers less as he was younger but enough I think to feel protective of me.
But I have never had that switch.
The switch to turn off love. The biggest defence mechanism of them all. I have many and yet I never employed that one. Why not?
Because for all it can hurt somehow even when I was little I knew that in those moments when I sat and held his hand that I gave him something that he wasn’t able to feel. And he needed it. He just didn’t know how to hold on to it or take it in. Maybe he thought that he wasn’t worth that love. I wonder what happened to him to make him the way he was.
Perhaps he wasn’t worth that love from me and yet I gave it anyways. Because I loved him.
And I’m glad.
But I never wanted to be like him. I never wanted to hurt others like he did. I don’t think he wanted to. He just did.
He didn’t know how to love and I did it unconditionally.
Because it was a part of me that couldn’t be switched off.
It is the thing about me that has always seen me through this life in a way that wouldn’t be felt if i had a switch. How much more pleasure and beauty I have felt in life being that way than pain. I would have missed out feeling so much if I had been able to turn it off. To feel is to be alive.
He needed that love way more than I did. It ran through me. It filled me. It was what made me the girl I have always been. The unchanged part that follows me from page to page, chapter to chapter.
I made a choice to leave him in my past not to hurt him but to take care of me.
When I received that letter from him I knew he still had not learnt to love. He still hurt me in leaving me feeling like I didn’t have the ability to forgive him. That I had deserted him. That I didn’t love him anymore.
I always loved him but I just could not be hurt by him anymore.
Left with the feeling of guilt.
Until I finally wrote back to him. Explaining why. Why I had removed him from my life even though I would always love him. I had never stopped.
I never heard back. But I finally felt peace in that.
He needed love more than giving his. I gave it to him. He has it. He is my dad and despite everything I love him.
But it didn’t hurt me anymore.
Because I’m lucky. I know what it feels like to love. It’s pretty incredible.
It’s a beautiful feeling that can certainly hurt but also makes me feel so very human. The core of what I am and I feel so proud in being that.
In all of his money and success he still didn’t understand the fundamentals.
Love is about what you give not what you take. About loving not being loved. It’s that simple. Basic.
And even though he held that In his hands he never really got it. I didn’t give it because I wanted it back. I gave it because I wanted him to feel loved and that made me happy.
I feel sad for him that he has spent a lifetime not getting it.
But I always have. And in the moments when I question who I am, my choices and how others respond to me, I remind myself of that very thing.
It was the little girl I was holding my dads hand and the girl who will always wear the red coat.