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The Daddy Issue(s)

First: a Disclaimer. This is not a fat positive blog. I am not a fat positive person, because for me, being fat mostly sucks. I am not a fat person because i desperately love eclairs or because i have some genetic predisposition to it or a thyroid condition. I'm not fat because i live in a so-called "food desert" (sorry, Em) and don't have good options, or because i am poor and suffer the ironic malnutrition of excessive weight. I am fat, because...and I ONLY mean this for me, because i am a profoundly and deeply damaged man. This is not true of a good many fat people who live positive lives and are healthy and loved and valuable as people, but it is true of me, and unfortunately it's something i have to talk about now.

When i was very young I saw the vicious thread of addiction that connected so many of the people in my family and I saw it for the bright red filament of destruction that it was. I also saw a fair bit of powerlessness in front of it, and i determined that i would have some measure of power of this lifetaker no matter how small. My power, my control, was deciding I wasn't going to be an alchoholic or a drug addict or a sex addict or addicted to bad men or bad women. I was going to be addicted to Cheeseburgers, and that was the way of it. It was a stupid decision, but it was MY decision, and it focused me, it kept me from running off the rails and, most importantly I delayed what i thought of as inevitable for me, the breakdown. It gave me a 20 year respite from dealing with the one thing my siblings and mother and whole family had to deal with every day of their lives, that being the death of my father completely upended our lives and left us disparate, lonely, individuals scattered into our various lives like billiard balls at the break.

I didn't know the man. I am of him, but unaware of him. I can't begin to describe to you the distance that put between me and my siblings. I don't know what they felt, if they were speaking I think they'd say unconditional love, but i suspect somewhere in their heart is a weird separateness from me that age alone (we are very distant age-wise) wouldn't account for. I was there, and then their father whom they loved deeply, wasn't. That can't NOT trigger something. Even if it didn't for them, it did for me. Ever since i can remember i've felt a weird sense of guilt over being my fathers last "great" act. Sickness and cigarettes killed him, but so soon after i arrived...i've always felt like i did something wrong, that if my family had the choice of trading me in for him they would have, and justifiably so, i'm brand new at this point. I cry at inopportune times, I shit whenever the hell i feel like it. I'm needy and don't care that they are grieving. Me me me, daddy who? I can't imagine an immature sister, suddenly having to deal with a grieving mother, a badass brother, didn't think at least once "i wish you were never born". Whats even worse, though, is that My sister and my brother love me, and if they did have those feelings about me i'm sure it wrecked havock on their teenage psyches, and if they didn't...i've still imagined they have. Guilt is rarely a feeling that needs much validation in fact. You know whats good for guilt though? Pizza. Shuts that nonsense right up.

Watching my mother cope with The Event created inside of me a fear of aloneness that is unquantifiable. I saw what my mother had to go through after my father died. For years she faced an unenviable barrage of judgement and disdain from members of my fathers family. It wasn't cool to be a single mom in the 70's, she wasn't even aloud to get a sears card when she wasn't married. Yeah, that was a the late 70's. Lenon was still alive, Carter was president, Gloria Steinem was owning the airwaves, and My mother couldn't get a sears card because she was an unmarried woman. She was never able to repair the rift my fathers death caused between her and her daughter, and to say it was rough between she and my brother...well...The Empire State building IS pretty tall.

She was forced to make decisions, when she was younger than I am now, That no one prepares for. Where do i live? Who do i trust? How do i feed my children? How do i keep them out of an abundance of trouble? How do i do this alone? How will i be happy when I am all alone and terrified and scruitinized by everyone? How do i do that without the person i planned on doing that all with for the rest of my life? Sadly, in recent years, i've come to ask myself the same questions and it's only with the advent of my marriage ending that i understand what my mother went through. With absolutely no question, none, I learned, i might even say I mastered, the arts of perseverence, ingenuity, and tenacity from my mother. The greatest legacy she will leave me are those three gifts. Also a love of music...if not the near genius level of comprehension she has of it.

But, you know back to my original thesis... I am a damaged man. She also left me a legacy of fear that folks who have 2 parents their whole life might never know. The fear of being alone. That struggle wasn't fun. Lots of crying, lots of fighting, lots of just ugly, something I never ever want to experience again. We weren't miserable all the time, not even a lot of the time, but enough. Enough that i, early on, became terrified of having to live through what my mother lived through. Truthfully she was terrified of it too, i think. She tried to find a man who could be equal to the task but she never found one who successfully lived up to what she wanted for the two of us. And while I had her when i was sad and frightened and felt inadequate, she was alone. I was always aware of that. Something that never really mattered until my first love broke up with me for some guy in her weekly Dungeons and Dragons game. In that moment i experienced someone i gave my heart to, with out consulting or negotiating with me, just go away. Fear, rejection, lonliness, inadequacy, all easily dealt with by French Fries. Better than Prozac, french fries are. I still hate Dungeons and Dragons.

Abandonment, take three scoops of chunky monkey...nah, make it a pint. Weirdness, otherness and a sensation that you are just entirely separate from everyone around you: a snickers bar will satisfy that. A palpable anger at a man who's genetics you are carrying and an unreasonable disdain for his weakness in front of addiction: They deliver pizza for that. A whole side of my family that ignored me because i had the audacity to, i don't know, be 2 and stay with my mom: a 2 liter of coke (diet coke if anyones looking) will fix that right up. A sense that you are simply not worth sticking around for...

That one took quite a few snacks.

See heres the thing, My mom was a wonderful single parent. I think, outside of some fairly profound issues, I turned out O.K. I think, in most instances, she made the right choices. She just should't have had to. It's so unfair. My sister was just becoming a woman, my brother was on the otherside of the bridge of manhood, barely able to pay the toll. My mother was so young and i wasn't even capable of expressing myself in anything other than drool, feces, and cooing. A man who i should have had the opportunity to love and learn from, and to have inside jokes with was just lifted out of our lives. I should have gotten a hug from him at my Graduation. He should have been there to shake some sense into my brother and to be my neices and nephews Grand father. Hell...he should be my childrens grand dad but i'm horrified at the idea of being a father because I don't know what one does.

This, at least in part, is WHY i am fat, the food the sedentary lifestyle, thats the HOW. If you don't bother to learn the why, then you're not going to learn anything and the how will just become something else. This is also why i do not love my fatness or see it as just another lifestyle choice. For some it is, there is room in my mind for that possibility, but for me my fatness is a lifetime of repressed sadness, anger, guilt and a whole collection of other fucked up feelings that instead of feeling and dealing with...i just ate away.

I'm not doing that anymore. I've been sequestering these feelings inside cheesecake for 20 years, and it's time they saw the light of day and withered in the sun. My father didn't chose to leave, i know that intellectually. I need to recast the death of my father into a reason to start living. He was dead near my age. Dead. Thats not going to be me, at least not because of anything i can manage. If i'm going to be a dad, i'm going to be there as long as I can. And you know, kind of most importantly, My mother and father created me, my mother raised me, she crafted a small lumpy thing into a Man, all by herself. I owe it to her to treat myself with as much love and care as she gave me. I owe it to my father to try and be an adult he would be proud of, one who learned from lifes lessons instead of hiding from them.

I am so lucky to have A brother and sister i admire in so many ways, a mother who truly went above and beyond and has shoulders like Atlas, and a father who helped make them who they are. A father who, with his absence, gave me the opportunity to find fathers in an endless array of People, real or unreal. I have fathers by blood and fathers by deed, in-laws and out laws. Timelords and Lumberjacks, program leaders and pastors. Mothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, all have played the role of my father in his absence. I am more powerful for having a father who, while he couldn't be there to see me go from crawling to walking to dancing is here for me now, when i need him the most. Across cancer and time and death Who he is, who we are...all of us, gives me the strength and the passion to cross the threshold from having a life to living one.

Dads...thats the power of a father. Don't forget it for a second.

And if you smoke, stop.


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