Ah, the long, difficult, and storied relationship of me and my father. I was tremendously angry when I first started telling stories about my childhood; my father had always been so good at getting away with everything. To the world, I was the demon child, and he was the valiantly-struggling parent. So when I started writing, my goal was to make sure the world knew “the whole story”. So I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more until enough people heard me, and hated my father as much as I did.
Mission accomplished; the world knew.
But God works in mysterious ways, and as more and more people despised my father, I found myself…getting over the whole thing. Now I find myself cleaning up my own mess; explaining to people that my father isn’t quite the bastard I made him out to be on MySpace.
Now, before you call me a fraud, let me explain something; not once did I lie about anything my father put me or my mother through. What I omitted, however, was that I was not the best child. In fact, I really was a little demon, and I have the juvenile record to prove it.
Now, you can do the what-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg argument until the cows come home (I think I’ve been in the country too long, if phrases like that come naturally). My very first memory of my father isn’t pleasant, and I began acting out as soon as I could walk. Was my father overly strict because he didn’t want me to act out, and I rebelled? Or did I act out because I knew no other way to get attention? Truthfully, I think I acted out because I just flat-out didn’t care. None of it matters; it’s all in the past.
Amazingly, my father is about to celebrate a birthday, I’m in my thirties, and my oldest son is a slightly-out-of-control honor roll student. And a bloody teenager. Everything comes full circle.
It took me a long time-getting into my thirties-before I figured out who I was and what I wanted, and honestly, my father played a huge role in that. No one ever hit me as hard as he did. No one ever hurt me as much as he did. No one ever pushed me to the brink like he did. The real world? Other people? Please. The real fight took place at home. Home was where I was forged. Dad often used to say that I was soft, and that part of the reason why he rode me so hard was because he wanted to toughen me up.
He taught me how to think faster. He taught me how to respond to situations faster than most people. He taught me to think for myself and stand by my actions. He taught me that the world wouldn’t give a damn about me; if I wanted to make something happen, then I had to make it happen. He taught me self-reliance.
He taught me that failure has a price. He taught me to be my hardest critic. He taught me to never stop climbing until I get to where I want to be. Inadvertently, he taught me to be acknowledge my successes (something I never saw him do) but at the same time, never become complacent. Never become satisfied. Never think you’ve learned all there is to something.
I apply my entire being to an endeavor, whether it’s the martial arts, writing, or this job I’m about to close my first week on (and not doing so bad on, so far). I don’t know how to go half-ass on anything, and I have little patience for people that do. I have no patience for people for go half-assed and then bitch and moan when they don’t get anywhere. I’m not low-key; I live out loud, I like to laugh, I like to be a bit immature at times, I like to have fun, meet new people, and experience new things. I’m wicked loyal to video games and I love being a dork. And I make no apologies for who I am.
My father has his issues-who doesn’t-but I proudly say that he kept food on the table, and every time he gave his word on something, I stopped worrying about it. I learned what that meant from him.
He may have been a colossal prick, but he’s still my father, and I’m proud to call him that. I am who I am because I was raised to be strong. I can deal with the issues.
So thanks, dad, sincerely.
And I’m doing okay.
(c) Avery K. Tingle for Akting Out LLC
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