I am my mother’s child.
But I got my demeanor from my daddy.
None of that was more clear than today.
Whenever I talk to my daddy, it always makes my day. Every time. Without fail. Our conversations are few and far between as a. we both hate talking on the phone with a burning passion and b. we work conflicting work schedules (I’m working when he’s asleep and vice versa.) But when we finally drag each other onto the phone, he always makes me smile. He’s silly. As hell. Which is funny because he looks a little intimidating like an extra from the Sopranos. But he’s a teddy bear. And he’s a little crass. (Which is probably where I get it.) He’s kinda lacking in social skills (again, hello?). But he’s kind. And he’s sweet. And he’s my daddy. However, none of this is the point of course.
My daddy is all those things but he’s also fairly stoic. And not in a typical dad I-never-even-give-my-kids-a-hug kinda way. He just isn’t easily swayed or affected. Much like myself. He isn’t all that emotional. I’ve only seen my daddy cry once, and it was my fault, so I felt especially guilty about it. The older I get, the more I notice that his humor is often a deflector to any probing you may attempt (How’s my little brother?), the degree of ridiculousness determined expressly by exactly how personal the question is (Daddy what do you wanna do with your life?). As I’ve gotten older, I recognize it as a defense mechanism. But I also think I may have internalized a great deal of it at a young age. Which is strange, seeing as how my daddy wasn’t around alot when I was younger. (Maybe taking on his demeanor was a way to feel closer to him when he wasn’t around? I might be getting a little too Freudian for my own good.) What I recognize as well, is that it isn’t exactly serving me.
Sure, not having a hothead temper like many of my family members is probably the only reason I’m not in jail or on the block today. And yes, being a little bit more difficult to rile up is probably why my mother and I haven’t killed each other yet. Being non-combatitive is probably the only reason I have such good friends or have accomplished anything in my life. So part of it is probably a good thing. But where do you draw the line? Where does my intense dislike of having to have the we have to talk convo start to hurt rather than protect me? When does deflecting the probing and difficult questions with humor to soften the blow start to alienate me from the people seeking to fill the exact voids I feel I have in my life? How does the instinct to be stoic find a balance between both levelling even the rawest emotions and not cutting you off from emotions all together?
I’ve become particularlly skilled in the art of holding back, of being emotionally distant. Not neccessarily out of maliciousness, but just because the other side is so dangerous to tread.
I acknowledge, when I want to and very rarely, that I’ve been through alot to be so young. I can also say without blinking, that many lesser people would have crumbled under the pressure of my life at some point during the 23 years I’ve lived it. But I haven’t. I’m not. I’m happy. I’m blessed. For the most part, I’m fairly well adjusted. So what if what has gotten you through the darkest, lowest times of your life is maybe what’s holding you back from reaching the apex of your experience?
“Daddy, would you say that you’re happy? I mean, if you passed away
tomorrow, could you look back over your life with no regrets?”
“I don’t think I could La. But I could be happy that maybe I
laid the groundwork for you to have that kind of life.”
Yes, my daddy is fantastic. And being his daughter is what has simultaneously condemned and saved me.
“You know you are just like your mama right?”
“I am NOT.”
“Well you look, you walk, you talk, you laugh, you sound, just like your
mama. But your heart and your head is more like me, I think.”
And I think I got the good parts.