Saturday, May 12, 2007


I seem to have said everything I wanted to say. I have filled my cup of wrath. All that's left is pain, and I don't seem to be going anywhere with it. Like a dog that chews at a wound. Who wants to watch that?

Facing our demons is a difficult thing. Facing them and letting them win is harder. I've spoken a lot about courage. I've had it, too. With me it boiled down to stubbornness. I would not give in. But when the hero doesn't win? When courage isn't about a moment of defiance or sacrifice, but rather the broken pieces afterwards? When those pieces cannot be repaired? That courage I do not have.

Then there's the ancient past, so long ago it started in the womb. You know how stunting malnutrition is, for infants. Not all nutrition has to do with food. How do you repair that?

Yeah, I have issues. Isn't that interesting?

In the early nineties I had contact with my father. He said to me once, "Y'know, you don't like yourself very much." Well that was just out of the blue. I'd never shared anything personal with him, and he's never impressed anyone as being finely attuned to the subtleties of other people's emotions. So I said, with an awkward little laugh, "What you actually mean is that you don't like me very much." "Oh no, no. I like you." "So let me get this straight. You, who don't even know me, like me so much, but I, who know myself from the inside -- I don't like myself? Wouldn't that mean that I'm fundamentally unlikable?"

Pretty good response, huh?

Problem is, he was right.

Who do I get to blame for that?

There's a reason I haven't seen him for something over a decade. This is pretty personal. That's the direction we've taken here, it seems. The cup of pain. Another one of my father's flashes of insight was when he asserted, in the guise of a question, "Jack, are you gay?" Well that was out of the blue. And I replied, probably with an awkward little laugh, "No. No, I'm not gay." And then he argued with me -- adduced evidence. I didn't care for sports. I liked classical music. I read books. I didn't date. Maybe he was trying to convince me. Maybe he knows me better than I know myself. I cannot convey how insulting it was. Not that there's anything wrong with it. But I was raised a certain way, if you take my meaning. Even if I am gay, I'll never admit it.

Petty? Am I petty in my pride? Yes. What am I protecting? After all, I don't like myself. Some dogs chew at wounds that aren't their own. There are toxic people, you know. It seems I don't have the courage to face that demon.

So there it is. I tried to heal myself by being the kind of father I would have liked to have. To one of my sons, I was able to do that. The other two -- well. I don't think my plan worked. I was too courageous. And the cup of pain overflows.



Anonymous said...

None of us "are gay". That's a particularly diabolical bit of disinformation.

We simply all have a bit of "the dog" in us and we either feed it and it grows and consumes us, or we resist and feed the better aspects of our fallen nature.

Jack H said...

Well, as I keep insisting, that particular sin doesn't crouch at my door. For my theory re sexuality:


brent said...

Isn't it amazing how one individual can have so much power over another?

"We find our place. Not every victory is in a field."

Find your place and be at peace.


Jack H said...

Sounds likes something I would have said. My sentence construction.

Why is it that human fathers have more power than God?