*Click* – snap! At the age of three, I had slumbered into the silent morning light of the living room scene. It had been an innocent morning when I noticed an attractive black gloss of a toy-stick on the coffee table. I went over and decided to press on one of its shiny silver pearl buttons. When I did, however, all I could remember was hearing the break in silence by a sudden chrome spear shone menacingly in front of my eye. Though my eye spared, my childhood innocence was sliced by the snap stare of a stiletto knife, with the christening chrome blade point hovering an inch from my eye.
At that moment, I had no concern for myself, but did feel paralyzing fear for what could happen to others by what I just did. Fear pierced my mind and hurt came into my soul because I knew to whom that knife belonged, and the vision of my mother’s screams at his hands. With that last thought, I fell to sleep in the moment. This is my earliest memory, and the implications have been far reaching in themes throughout my life – as earliest of recollections do.
My father killed people. On a whim, by his family request, or for whatever other reason he chose, he just did. That he was an alcoholic and full of violence was par for the course because his main goal was to strike fear and put others’ life on the line to gamble with. For a number of reasons and experiences related to this, you could have called him a sociopath, but he was more regularly known by my family as the devil.
I make the distinction between his and my family because my parents divorced, and the last day I saw him was at a jail yard playground when I was five and my mother was serving him divorce papers. Although he didn’t remain in jail for long, I never did see him again after that, so he never became part of my family that I knew. That said, his legacy never left me, and I was called throughout my developmental years by some family members as the Devil’s Son.
So what’s it like being the Devil’s Son? No one harms you, no one holds you, and everyone expects you to grow up to be a bad ass out of hell.
Every Father’s Day is a reminder of what you don’t have, and what you’re left to live with. Absence and neglect become your intimate mates, and you learn to read people and motives from a mile away through the vibrations in the air. I hated myself and did what came natural – rebelled. There is no memory of any family member taking me to school or seeing a report card, but I had my instinct and drive to be different. I excelled and became exceptional in sports and school – graduating with honors in high school, lettering in wrestling, breaking school weight lifting records, and had also gone to court and became an emancipated minor before graduating. I was on a mission to prove my family members wrong about me, so I joined religion and lived as a missionary in a third world country for two years. The first thing that my mother said when I returned home from that was, “You don’t fool me. I know who you really are.”
Let’s just say that I had the fortunate experience of my world falling apart after that, because I then became me.
Despite travelling through hell and the heavens, I learned that I was never going to be good enough for anyone else, and that I might as well be good enough for me. I stopped running, and more importantly, I stopped running from my legacy, and realized that although I have my father’s blood in me, I still had a choice. His aggression is my passion, and where he chose to be destructive and hurtful, I could choose to be constructive and heal. That was the day I invited others to join in my journey or to continue on their way. I gained my self-acceptance, standing on the marriage rocks of heaven and hell, the ‘wounded healer,’ and started on the path of my own legacy.
My past is no secret to those who know me, except to my son. Someday when he gets older he will read this and learn about his father, but for now I let him know that my own father was a very hurtful man and that is why I don’t like violence. With that in mind, I don’t call my son good or bad, but I do encourage him to be the best of himself and to be helpful to others, and withhold the judgment or having to apologize for being one’s self. For the rest of the common sons and fathers, I know that my story is not unique, not so great, and not the worst, but that Father’s Day can sometimes feel like having to make amends with devil inside and the demons in our past – you’re not alone. I’d suggest you let it not define you, but rather to make meaning from it, and create your legacy. After all, the day’s can move to fast, and life can pass in a snapPin It