I’ve often wondered what compels me to write. Is it to live out a kind of fantasy through the character’s lives, to reach out to others, to create, or is my subconscious trying to work through issues in my life that I otherwise haven’t had the ability to mend on my own? In Bye, Joni Weaver, a manuscript I’m currently revising, I found myself writing a father/daughter dynamic, which is weird, because I know nothing about father/daughter relationships. At the age of three my father shoved me off his lap and curtly asked my mother to keep me from climbing up there again. Something inside of me was so very hurt. Strange that I climbed up there anyway, as my father very clearly was not the type you’d want to snuggle up to. But some unknown childish urge had made me do it anyway, and then suffered the consequences for said urge.
Let me tell you about my father. He was tall. He had dark hair and ice blue eyes. He was very religious and would use the bible as his excuse and reason for most judgements and punishments—and there were many. Almost every day we were lined up on the hall stairs and interrogated for little crimes such as getting fingerprints on his bible or scratching a favorite record. If we didn’t admit to the crime, he’d punish us as a unit. Upstairs, we draped ourselves over the edge of a mattress, while he gave us a very thorough spanking with a leather belt. I remember thinking how unfair it was, because I hadn’t done the crime—none of us had. But, of course, you wouldn’t say that to a man with a belt in his hands. You said nothing; you didn’t even cry.
One time when my sister and I were sick from the flu or the chicken pox, I can’t remember which, he showed up after years of not visiting, and crept into our room. He was there to annoint us. Sick, I lay in that bed in that dark room, and watched this man that I no longer knew—perhaps never knew—and felt fear at his approach. He bent down to rub oil on my forhead, mumbling prayers—the kind of prayers that were never a comfort. Not in his voice; with his intonation. I grew mad. My father was afraid we’d die, and he had to bless us first. My father. The man who called me a devil because I sometimes danced in circles.
When he died a few years ago, I couldn’t go to his funeral. My siblings went to his house to clean all of his things but I, the youngest, couldn’t do it. I was terrified. Seeing my father’s things was the most horrible, terrifying thought in the world, and I couldn’t do it. I’ve felt guilty over that decision, but never really sorry. Somehow I knew what I was capable of, and saved myself from something that might undue me in ways that weren’t fixable.
So now, back to writing. It’s kind of funny how our subconscious works, but much of what I write involves some sort of family problem. There’s the mother/daughter dynamic. And the father/daughter dynamic. I realized after a completing scene in Bye, Joni Weaver, that I was working out my problems through writing. That I had found a way to have a father—in the only way I’d ever have a father. Through fiction.
Today, as I’ve pondered over this, I spoke to my father through my thoughts, and I told him that I forgave him for what was done. It isn’t fair to hold him to this earth with my unresolved issues. He needs to be happy up there, you know? I want him to be at peace. We all deserve that after a long, difficult life. Who knows why he did what he did, but it’s over now, and I forgive him. I also told him that I will continue to work out all issues through my writing.
And that’s it. This is the post I was going to write today, but I ended up with the one below which is much more positive, but rather shallow in comparison. And I’m telling you all of this because you too can forgive and let go, and find ways to heal through your art—wahtever it may be.