As Father’s Day approaches, so does the cracking of my artfully crafted exterior. I think about my dad often but I try to hide the pain I still feel. I know my sadness and unease makes people uncomfortable so I internalize it.
Only a few times a year do I let myself grieve or allow my pseudo tough-girl exterior to dissolve and just feel. My dad was a lot of things to a lot of people, and although it has not always been so, I know I can have my own opinion about him. It has taken me years to realize that despite what other people feel, my memories are mine and mine alone to keep.
He will always be the man who held me when I cried after I got into a huge fight with my first boyfriend. The man who, when I felt like my world was falling apart, told me to “never let them take my smile.” A man who, after losing a bet, got his hair braided and walked around downtown Waikiki with me.
For better or worse, he was my dad.
He taught me a lot. He showed me that some of the hardest lessons we learn in life are ones that come from the people we are supposed to love and trust. His actions both directly and indirectly have shown me the type of person I do and don’t want to be. Even in death, he taught me to love people like they could disappear tomorrow.
Nothing I say or do will physically bring you back dad, I know this…but I still search crowds for you. I play the songs you loved and pretend we are in the car together. On days I miss you most, I toast plain strawberry pop-tarts and slather them in butter, even though I hate them. For those few seconds, I am a kid again; I can close my eyes and have breakfast with you. I see your face when the boys smile, and I sometimes hear you when I talk. I think about what I would say if I could call you. I wonder if you would be proud of me.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I wish I could be with you today.
If I were to hear someone else telling my story, or animatedly reliving parts of my life, I would find it riveting. I would want to examine it under a microscope, view it from a far, and study it like a textbook. I am fascinated by one’s reality of going from zero-to-oh-shit (literally) in seconds; however, life is personal. It is raw, real, our connection to the world. Our experiences make up our foundation–our essence. I know the reality and intimacy of my chronic illness and rarely take the opportunity to step back and just soak in the absurdity–and oftentimes humor–in it all.
I met this co-worker a few years ago. I don’t know if she broke down my walls, climbed them, took a hammer to them, or slowly chipped them away, but befriending her has made all of the difference. You see, over a decade ago I used to write fan fiction. I loved reading and writing so I spent a good chunk of my spare time doing both activities. A book idea didn’t just come to me, it seeped into my soul and clung to me like a shadow. I HAD to write it down. So I did; well, I started to anyway.
My dad, who was living in a different country, wanted to read my work and that is something I rarely let anyone do. He said what all good parents should: that my work was good, great, whatever. I will never know if he truly felt that way or if he was just being supportive. He died shortly afterwards. Even though the book had nothing to do with him, I couldn’t write any more. I tried over the years but rereading my work just made me sad. In fact, I kind of stopped writing altogether. Until my friend.
I never stopped loving writing, I just think it stopped loving me. I thought it out grew me, or I it. I thought I needed to be a different person. Between the growing up, the losing a parent, and the living a life with an auto-immune disease, I became a wife and mother. My priorities shifted. I believed that I needed to be someone more; I needed to be someone worthy of their love. As I have grown and learned to love myself I realize these things are not mutually exclusive. Becoming a parent, having a disease, and being married doesn’t require me to become someone else, they just give me a different outlook on life.
With the encouragement and support of my friend and my husband, Intrestinal Fortitude was created. This is my way of taking back writing and taking back my life; and any luck, reaching someone who needs to hear the words I have to say.
With every flair I learn a little bit more about myself. I learn about my strength, my pushing points, my fears, my weaknesses, and even my hopes and desires. This current flair has given me clarity regarding my future: I no longer want to live life in a void. I want color, meaning, fulfillment, and memories.
As some of you know from previous posts, I recently started taking Prednisone. Now, I have been on Prednisone a decent amount of times throughout my life, and each time I react in new or varying ways. There was depression, there was insatiable hunger, there was anger, and sometimes when I was really lucky–all three.
This time I decided to get ahead of it. So along with my 200-pill prescription, I picked up boxing gloves. I am not taking classes or learning in any professional capacity; it’s just me, my gloves, my brother, and his training mitts. I will tell you this: if you need an outlet, boxing is amazing. I am already loving it–the sweat, the release, the endorphins, the aches and pains, the power. For a person like me who has never felt powerful or in control, boxing is amazing.
I said I want color, and I meant it; I have been wearing colored pants to work. It is completely outside my comfort zone. I have a “black/gray looks good with everything” outlook on life. (I consider it the Wednesday Addams’ approach.)
If there is one thing I have learned, it is that you have to shake things up. Comfort is great, but living isn’t about a routine. Living is about the expensive, decadent dark chocolate espresso bar, it is about the right turn you’ve never taken, saying the words you never thought you could, and that someday trip that finally comes.
It is easy to say all this, to breathe in the fresh, after-rain air and wax poetic, but doing something about it is another story. So I offer a challenge to you: be daring, be bold, be UNCOMFORTABLE. Live life outside the void.