Happy Birthday Dad!!
I think this is the 1st time since my Dad passed that I have taken a moment to pause and wish him a happy birthday. He would be 83.
My Dad, Farris Edwin Dennis, lived in Grant, AL, all his life and died at age 59. I was 26. My Dad had a BIG personality. He was funny, had pretty brown eyes and a big ol’ smile, and Dear Lord! That man could cook. Nothing healthy, but he could cook a rib-eye on the stove top that melted in your mouth, biscuits (from scratch) and gravy, and he could cook a Krystal burger almost better than Krystals.
He worked on Redstone Arsenal for years with the highest security clearance that a civilian could have at the time.
I got my brown eyes, my stomach issues and my fiery temper from him. Most of the good stories I have of my Dad did not come from me. I didn’t get to witness that side of him because by the time I was on the scene he was an angry alcoholic.
He had terrible arthritis, stomach ulcers, and he had had back surgery and open-heart surgery. He smoked a pack a day of Vantage cigarettes up until the day he died.
He was a functioning alcoholic.
He was abusive both mentally and physically.
I grew up hating my Dad. Not out loud of course because he scared the mess out of me. I did my best to fly under the radar. I became a very good people pleaser because of him. Even to this day, it is so hard to disappoint anyone that I love.
But I worked hard to release the hate. For me, it happened in layers. I knew deep down it was better to forgive. I still remind myself of the quote, “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
I know so many people that find it hard to let go of what happened to them as a child. I do not know you. I do not know what horrid things you went through, but I am sorry. I am sorry you were hurt. It takes time.
In my case, over 25 years to speak of my Dad out loud and in public. I denied my past for years. It makes many people uncomfortable talking about things like these, which only adds to the shame of the victim. Making it seem things that happened in the past should be ‘gotten over’.
To deny my past meant to deny who I was and what I went through. Thought patterns & habits are formed early in life. Working through those situations and things is absolutely the best thing I have ever done for me.
If you haven’t taken the time to unwind the spool of hurt, anger and sadness, those things are following you. I think life moves super-fast, and it takes time. Life takes a lot of deep breaths, hugs, and kindness, and less ‘throw some dirt on it and get on with it.’
To forgive my Dad, I did research. I had to dig deep and figure out how this funny, fun-loving guy came to be the Dad that I knew. I asked his old friends and family who were left. His story is a tough one, filled with so many sad things. Back then there was no therapy. A man didn’t cry and surely did not bellyache about his past. The anger he had for the things in his childhood consumed him, and the alcohol deadened those thoughts. His body crumbled from the weight of his feelings. His heart could not take it.
I miss the idea of him. I miss the thoughts of what it would have been like to have him around without alcohol. But honestly, I can’t fathom the idea. It makes me cringe because I can not picture him without his Canadian Mist. I choose to focus on his childhood photos, knowing the man who would become this angry little spitball of a man was once a carefree child with dreams and giggles – just like my boys.
The thought of my loved ones not missing me when I am dead makes me want to continue to do better. I guess being a people pleaser has its advantages.
If you have been lugging around something from your past, I want to encourage you to work through it. The world needs more whole people. More caring people. More people just like you. And…It might just start with the yoga…