The Apple and The Tree




As it turned out, when she was here, my mom and I did talk about “where” she
was during my childhood as my dad dealt out some pretty nasty physical, then later verbal blows. I didn’t bring it up; it actually came up by her as part
of a conversation about my brother, and, basically, how he’d asked her
recently where she’d been during that time. I guess he and I are doing similar work.
When she brought it up, I told her, as I’d written here, that
really, it’s water under the bridge. That she’s owned up to her shortcomings as a
mother before, and more importantly, she’s changed and is continuing to change from that avoidant woman.
But, since it was there, she answered anyway. And basically her answer was that
she didn’t know it was happening. She was either away working, or, she admitted, she was in
denial and didn’t want to see it.
There’s not much to do with this information. It doesn’t
change the past, it doesn’t change that I do still feel more forgiving of her
than him, because she has the capacity to see what pain she caused by
commission or omission, and to make changes in herself to course-correct the
blindspots that made her unavailable to my brother and me.
So, this leaves my dad. And what do I do with him.
Yesterday, I went to the batting cages. I’d actually been
wanting to go for several years since I’ve lived in the Bay Area, but as there
weren’t any in SF (which I find abominable), and once in the East Bay my car
was stolen, I haven’t been able to go. And so, finally, yesterday, I did.
It was glorious. I had so much fun. I hit the majority of the
(admittedly soft) pitches, and some of my shots were actually quite good. My
body remembered how to do this. I remembered how to do this. I used to go to
the batting cages all the time – with my dad.
It’s the both/and again. If my father (or mother for
that matter) hadn’t given my brother and me some genuine goodness, we’d both be sociopaths. If all was neglect, abuse,
and secrecy, we’d be something other than we are:
generally well adjusted and generously kind people.
As a former boy scout and army captain, my dad was capable of the “outdoorsy” stuff that society
says dads do: take us sledding in the winter, teach us how to bat, take us
hiking and camping and sailing. He was able to be there in the ways
that didn’t require him to step out of his comfort zone. (Unfortunately, my
brother has tales from “throwing around the ball” with our dad that don’t have
such fond memories; apparently demanding perfection from a 9 year old doesn’t
instill confidence or trust.) But, my dad did teach us these things.
And as I consider what my relationship with him is, and what
I want it to be, I know that there is this part. A part of me that wouldn’t be
if it weren’t for him and shaped by his… –I can’t believe I’ll use this word–nurturing, I wouldn’t have the urge to go to the batting
cages, or the part of me that enjoys and indeed demands that I get out into
nature and stoke a fire.
Like anyone, my father is multifaceted. He isn’t an ogre,
though he was in part. He isn’t a swell dad, though he was in part. He isn’t
entirely absent, though he was in part.
My mom and I talked some last weekend about the things she
“got” from her parents, the good things she got. She has her own multifaceted
parents too, but it was nice to hear, for maybe the first time, the positive
qualities of them, and what they’d passed on to her.
Because no matter what, no matter how I feel, what kind of
relationship, if any, I choose to have with my dad, he still did raise me, for
better or worse.
And as to the better, yesterday, I left the batting cages
with a smile that lasted for hours, today my arm muscles are sore, and next
week, I know I’ll be back. 

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