This is about to get pretty personal, and pretty gritty, and has almost nothing to do with searching for one’s faith. So, I apologize for diving into the dark, but you’re welcome to take this as a warning and stop reading here, or come into this walk with me – I promise, the ending is good.
My biological parents split when I was crazy young – for reasons between them and no one else, in my opinion. When I was almost 6 my father married Woman A. Woman A was a bit of a nightmare, though I will admit she did do some good things for me and her mother was probably the best I could’ve hoped for.
For ten years Woman A was unpleasant. She threw me down stairs on two occasions I can remember, beat me bloody with a spaghetti spoon at least three times, and informed me on several occasions that I was quite worthless and fat and stupid. When I was 12 she informed me that I’d grow up to be a worthless homosexual failure like my mom.
In her defense, I wasn’t an angelic child. Self-preservation has done its best to convince me that what I did wrong was mostly reactionary, but experience has taught me that I can be irritating. Though, I imagine you could argue that experience is based on being who I am now which was influenced by who I was.
Regardless of its source, it took a long time for me to start to realize that I didn’t deserve that treatment. I had my flaws, and I still do, but no one deserves to be made to feel as though the very act of breathing is an inconvenience.
Some years ago, Woman A apologized. Tears, sincerity, and pain as she spoke. Apologizing for what I endured, what I never deserved, what was a flaw of hers and not mine. I felt vindicated for the first time in decades. I thanked her, at the time, and left without saying much, but it was nearly a week before I stopped crying. Twice during the ten years I’d been living with her I had attempted to take my life, and this might be the first time I’ve admitted to that.
Last Saturday something similar happened. My grandfather – a man I admire and respect even if I’m fully aware of his flaws and shortcomings – told me he was proud of me. That I was doing “Excellent.”
I used to joke that most people set the bar _ here, and grandpa set the bar – here, but if you were Family, grandpa set the bar somewhere in the Title Bar of this post. Not because he was mean, but because he wanted you to constantly be the absolute best you could be. It guaranteed that you’d succeed, and that’s what he wanted for his family.
Unfortunately for him, I spent most of my life feeling like a complete and utter failure, a total waste of space and life and a terrible inconvenience forced upon the rest of the world. So my grandfather’s hopes for me beat angrily against a darkness – made worse by how I didn’t talk to people about any of this because I didn’t want to be a pest.
But here I am.
By a woman whose apology lifted the weight of the world from me,
And by a loving Grandfather who made sure I knew.
So, maybe not the way I meant to kick off Blaugust, but it is what it is.