I'm 58. And I'm still here. And that's a miracle.
December 3, 2021 Journal Entry
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my father. I seem to have forgiven him.
I’m 58 years old. I say that a lot. It’s such a weird number. It’s such a big number. And it’s so close to 59, which is so close to 60, which is really old. I can’t believe I got here. I say that a lot. It’s a miracle, really. I say that a lot, too.
My father has been dead since I was twenty. So 38 years he’s been gone.
When I put myself back in that place, when I think about those episodes of abuse, it makes me nauseous. But then I just turn away. I don’t want to see that anymore, I really don’t. And I don’t need to. I looked too close for too long. It’s so far gone now, so far back.
I remember at the time, when I was young and the Southern Baptist doctrine was shoved down my throat and beaten into me, I distinctly remember knowing for sure I was going to go to hell because I couldn’t honor my father. And I believed that for a long time. Maybe until I was in my 40s? And by then, I had a whole new slew of reasons why I knew for sure I was going to hell. Failure to follow just one of God’s commands was a miniscule infraction. I’d failed to follow so many of God’s commands, I was black with sin. Ugly and black and doomed.
I don’t believe in hell anymore. It was a long time – that realization – forming and manifesting in my head. A long long time. Probably since my 40s. HA! It seems it was then I started replacing the lies with the truth.
The truth lives inside, did you know that? It lives inside and we just get it brainwashed out of us. It takes a long time for the truth to percolate back up into consciousness. For me, perhaps half a century! Fuck. Weird to say that. Half a century. I’m even 8 years beyond that. I can’t believe I got here. I say that a lot. It’s a miracle, really. I say that a lot, too.
So I was thinking about my father just now, like about ten minutes ago actually, and I thought I might post one of the abuse episodes. I’ve written so many of them out. And it was good. It was good for me to do that. Because when I wrote them out, I believed myself. I finally believed the things I knew to be true, that everyone told me I was exaggerating or even lying about. My father was sexually abusive. No doubt.
It was incredibly sad to write about the abuse. And it was incredibly sad to reread what I’d written. I shared it, and it made other people sad, too. But for some reason, I felt compelled to share. I wanted people to know. I wanted people to look at me and look at my life and know I have a story. A heartbreaking story. And in spite of all that, I got here. To 58. I want people to know you can get through and beyond, but never cured of mental illness. But there is hope, there is always hope. I want people to know if I can do it, anyone can.
As I was considering which of the abuse episodes to post, I heard in my head, “Nah. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to honor him, it’s just that I don’t want to dishonor him. Not right now. Not right today. Not at Christmas time.”
It dawned on me that not wanting to dishonor him was pretty close to honoring him. I mean, close enough. Not really but not not really. So that means I did, finally, at 58, kind of sort of follow that single one of God’s commands.
I have always believed God doesn’t grade on a curve. And he gives major points for effort. He doesn’t just give partial credit for getting the formula right but getting the answer wrong. He gives full credit. It’s easy to get good grades from God.
I did good. I did right. I’m making progress. I still cry a lot. A lot. But hell. I’m 58. And I’m still here. And that’s a miracle. There! Said it again! It's because I'm kind of amazed I'm still here. So I say it a lot to remind myself what a victory that is. And I say it a lot to remind myself to just keep on putting one foot in front of the other.
I've come this far, to 58, I can push on through from here. No doubt.
I Persevere. And life goes on.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”