I don’t make any money at blogging, but it’s cost me a lot. Several months ago, an old flame requested that I remove a post. When I refused, albeit compassionately, he ended our connection.
Now it’s my father’s turn.
I shouldn’t be surprised. It was only a matter of time before he joined others who visit my blogs each month.
…Though it did take him three years.
…And there have been countless phone calls, gifts, letters and emails sent directly to him that were evidently unseen, unheard or at least never acknowledged.
Apparently “a friend” sat him down to show him my words, the ones specifically about him.
I scan my brain.
What have I written that includes my father?
There’s the piece about the divorce. (Yep, that would be hard.)
Then there’s the one from childhood. (That one is kind of nice.)
There’s the poem about spanking. (That would be rough.)
Nothing else comes to mind, but then again, I’ve published over a thousand pieces in the past few years so I open my laptop and Google:
Kelly Salasin, father
And I’m surprised to see how little there is.
Just then, my teenager enters the room, and so I ask him:
(If anyone knows the burden of being related to a blogger, it’s a sixteen year old.)
“No,” he says, and then adds in my defense: “They belong to you; they’re about your life.”
Still, I feel bad. I know it’s a challenge to have a memoirist in the family. And what will happen when my book comes out? My father may never speak to me again; though it might be hard to tell because he talks to me so little anyway. I guess I should be satisfied that I have garnished some of his attention… that he’s actually reading my work; hearing how I experienced my childhood; even feeling it.
That’s a good thing, right?
Why does it feel so bad?
Why do I sit in bed, late into the night, staring out at the stars, feeling orphaned–again?
“I wish Mom was here,” I say, but then I retract it. She’d be reading my writing too. There’s an entire blog inspired in the wake of her untimely death.
I guess I could have waited until my dad died to write anything that included him; that way he wouldn’t have to experience what he calls: my daggers.
But they’re not meant to be daggers, they’re meant to be warning signs for others: Don’t spank your children. Don’t forget about them in the middle of a divorce. Don’t abandon them when you have a new family. Don’t think that your 30 or 40 or even 50 year old daughter doesn’t need her father. Doesn’t want him. Doesn’t love him even though he has hurt her.
As a lifelong advocate for children, I feel it my duty to speak up. In fact, I’ve been like this since I was a child. Some of the biggest fights I had with my father were over my sisters; and before that, speaking up for myself:
“That isn’t fair,” I’d say, and he’d banish me to my room.
“Why…” I’d say, and he’d leave me in the car while the rest of the family went sightseeing.
“I’m too old to be told to go to bed,” I’d say, and he’d threaten me with his size. (I was 18.)
The truth is that he was the one who taught me to speak up. To be candid. To be bold. To be forthright.
“If she thought she lost her father at 19, just wait…
This is the most excruciating thing that he said about my writing.
This is what pings in my heart.
And this is what reveals the most… about me.
It’s taken the loss of my father’s love, the awful threat of that loss–again–to make me realize what my life is all about; and silence is a price I won’t pay for anyone’s love.
Kelly Salasin, January 2012
ps. Though not a week goes by without the blessing of a reader’s appreciation, I sincerely offer this to those my words have hurt:
If I have harmed you in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, please forgive me.
If you have harmed me in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, I forgive you.
May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you live with ease.
(the Loving-Kindness Meditation)