My father saw things in me that other people didn’t see… or maybe just didn’t tell me that they saw.
Forgetting, for a moment, the harm that he caused in my life… forgetting the poison he introduced into me, forgetting all of these things, there are still positives, still good things about the relationship we had once. It’s always difficult for me to accept that. It’s easier to be on one side or the other… looking from the middle ground is difficult.
My father saw that I was intelligent. He taught me how to play chess, and played against me even after I started consistently winning against him. He had conversations with me about society, about life, about the future, treating me with intellectual respect, for the most part.
He saw that I had musical talent. It was through his encouragement that I learned flute, it was him that bought me the flute, and him that pushed me to get involved in music more often. He encouraged me to sing for the family.
He saw that I was pretty. He bought me clothing, he gave in to me when I fell in love with a specific pair pants that I knew I could never buy, or ask my mother for. Whatever his motives, he was the only man who ever told me I was beautiful when I was a teenager. He would pay for me to get my hair done. Even tomboys want to look pretty sometimes.
He saw that I wanted to learn things. He taught me anything I ever asked him to. He handed me his Pentax SLR camera when I was fourteen and showed me what the controls did. He answered my questions, he showed me what he knew about the camera (and he knew his camera,) he let me experiment with it and learn from what I tried. For Christmas, he gave me an industry-standard book on photography techniques, because he saw that I was interested. He was perceptive.
I know that he loved me. I know that he listened, that he wanted the best for me. I know that he trusted me. He rarely trusted other people around me, but he trusted me – looking back I see that, where at the time, I was certain that he didn’t trust me at all. In a way, when you take away all the bad impact that he had in my life, he was still good to me. I know he loved me.
It doesn’t change my decision at all. Maybe nothing ever will. But I think in some sort of warped way, in between times, he wanted me to be happy and successful in what I did. And I loved him because he believed in me, he encouraged me, he trusted me, he taught me. And I hated him because he betrayed me.
And then people wonder why I’m so afraid of myself… so afraid of success. It seems simple in my mind. The one person who encouraged me most, who paid the most attention to me, who most believed in my abilities and talent, was the one who most betrayed me. It taints you, knowing that everything they told you might have just been to fulfil their needs at your expense. Positive reinforcement that came with a price. Good things always tied up inextricably with the bad. Always waiting for that other shoe.
But maybe it only makes sense to me. I think that’s all that matters.
He loved me. It hurts.