There are those who tell me that I idolize/idealize my father. To a certain extent that’s true. I acknowledge that my dad made some major mistakes, contributed to the abuse I and my sibs suffered, and was generally an ostrich-like doormat for many years.
The honest truth is that my dad is the thread I refuse to pull. Even for an emotional excavator like me that is one emotional gamble I can not and will not take. My dad, in all his peace making mess, was all I had for a long, long time. I could depend on dad to turn his back when my mom was at her worst. He would explain away her nastiness and encourage me to try to get along.
As much as he tuned out he subconsciously knew the score. I don’t know when I realized that he had given up and was just biding his time. Maybe it was when I was a little girl and would kiss him 4, 5, or 6 times before he left for work. I would hug him tight and try not to cry as he drove away. The thought that my dad might one day not come back terrified me. I could sense weariness in him that hadn’t been there before. His eyes were heavy lidded with stress and exhaustion in every form. If I as a child could dream of nothing more than leaving, then what about my dad, who had the real means to leave?
Or maybe it was when I was hospitalized as a child and he would minimize the harshness of my mother’s parenting. I was falling apart and he gave in again and again to her declarations of my inherent wrongness. I saw relief on his face when I stopped fighting the shrinks and social workers. I accepted the ruling of Judge Luna C and was adjudicated with no chance for appeal, no settlement, and made to pay damages in the form of accepting the mark of being the "bad child."
For all this, I love my dad far more than I can tell you. He screwed up, yes. People ask me why I cut my mom out of my life when my dad is also responsible for what I suffered. Believe me, we’ve had it out. Screaming, crying, and nasty words have all been said by me. He’s had some not so kind words for me, too. But you know what? He took that….he took the anger, the rage I had at being the scapegoat for so long. He started doing this when he and my mom divorced. It was almost like he came out of a fog. Things that he had previously not noticed he now questioned. Abuse my sister suffered. Physical altercations between mom and I. Things that we knew not to tell him because he would look the other way.
My mom can give you a very eloquent verbal apology. She can even act the part with tears at the right moment. She’ll spin you and weave you in a tapestry of all the words you want to hear. What she can’t do is follow through with actions. As sorry as mom might be at that exact moment, and she will tell she is, she can’t comprehend why you are angry with her when she turns around and does the exact same things hurtful things again and again, hurting you in the same manner she just apologized for. To her, an apology means a free pass. It never happened, the slate is clean. She can say the words; it’s the meaning that forever eludes her.
My dad sucks at words. He has a hard time just saying “I’m sorry.” He gives reasons for what he did; partially, I think, to make himself feel better for having screwed up and also to try and show that he understands why you are angry. More than the words though, my dad backs it up. He will go out of his way for his kids so we know that he hears us after burying his head for so long.
Someone reading this who hasn’t dealt with BPD may wonder I am so in awe of my dad making sure that I know he is sorry for what happened. It’s something you have to live thru to fully comprehend. The Land of Oz (where children of Borderlines reside) is the land of smoke and mirrors where illusion is reality and reality is illusion. A child such as myself and my siblings straddle the worlds of illusion and reality. We know we live in the illusion. We know we exist outside of reality, too. But what can a kid do except go with the flow and live the illusion, hoping to some day live in the land of reality?
My dad gives me that reality. Faults and all, he is a part of my reality. He gave me that reality when he took my calls in the middle of night when I wasn’t sure I could do this whole life thing any longer. He’s there for a ride when my car breaks down. He tells me to shut the hell up when my ego gets the best of me, and he puts me back on track I am scared that I won’t be able to handle the wonderful opportunities life is now throwing at me. He’s there for me in all the glory of his faults and the shadow of the abuse that hangs over our family. He’s the knot that held me together when I couldn’t see the yarn for the rug. I don’t like how he did it yet he did it when no one else would, and for that I will always be grateful.