My birthday was last week. I turned 45. At some point during the week my mom told me that my dad had sent me a birthday card and a check for fifty dollars.
“What do you want me to do with the check?” she asked, because she knows that in the past I’ve struggled with whether or not to take money from dad on the rare occasion that he sends any.
“Bring it with you to Yellowstone and I’ll deposit it on my bank’s mobile app,” I said without hesitating.
At that moment I didn’t feel anything about it, except maybe mildly annoyed that he only sent fifty bucks and there’s no way that’s going to make a dent in all the ways I’m financially challenged because of the abuse he perpetrated. Later that day, while packing for our upcoming trip to Yellowstone, we realized we didn’t have any binoculars and I was pleased to know I would soon have that fifty bucks so I could get a pair.
When I told my oldest kid about the fifty bucks, their response was simply:
They know about the abuse and they understand how pervasively it has affected my life and their own. I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking about how I was suddenly able to buy binoculars so me and my family could see more wildlife while at Yellowstone.
Today’s the day we leave for Yellowstone and I woke up at 6am in a panic.
“That’s understandable,” I thought. “Leaving home for 10 days to go on a road trip with my family and sleep on the ground is stressful”
When I was settled at the kitchen table with my morning cup of kratom and scrolling through my Facebook feed, I saw a poem my sister had posted. Here’s the poem (it’s by Sherman Alexei:
The No’ (from ‘You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me’)
So we must forgive all those
Who trespass against us?
Fuck that shit.
I’m not some charitable trust.
There are people I will hate
Even after I’m ashes and dust.
I instantly reposted it on my own wall, along with some words about it being exactly what I’m feeling because of “my dad’s stupid birthday gift and the Nazis coming out of the woodwork.” Almost instantly my dear friend who recently visited commented:
“I love you.”
I started sobbing while also trying to be very quiet because my oldest kid is sleeping on the couch in the next room. The suddenness of such intense feelings surprised me. Without realizing it, I’d been conveniently avoiding all the feelings which were boiling just under the surface. The sadness and anger that my dad could send me fifty bucks but after 25 years can still not admit to his destructive and sick abuse. The fear, sadness and rage that Nazis are openly marching in the streets and killing the citizens who stand up to them.
All the feelings.
Thankfully I have a friend who reminds me:
“What I know is how incredibly hard this has been and that sometimes we just need someone to rub our back and let us cry. Let us go through the tunnel. I can’t be there to run your back or hold you, but I can send my love as you pass through darkness. Know that I’m walking beside you.”