inked father

Heres to the girls who’s hearts were broken by a man long before any boy got ahold of it.
Heres to the girls who believe that they can’t be loved because the one man who was supposed to always love them didn’t.
Heres to the girls who can’t stay in a relationship because all they were ever taught was how to leave one.
Heres to the girls who are in an abusive relationship and don’t know it because it’s what they grew up seeing.
Heres to the girls who can’t trust men because the man they were supposed to always be able to count on left.
Heres to the girls who are scared to have kids because they never want their kids to face the same pain they had to endure.
Heres to the girls who refuse to say they have a dad because all their father ever was is a man who helped create them.
—  You’re not my dad, you’re just the man who helped create me// 4am

i mean im an adult, i guess, if that’s the word for it. a lot of things i used to care about i just say “Fuck It” and let go. 

but it’s incredible to me that there’s still so many passages to my soul. how just a group of teenagers looking at me and laughing makes my teeth hurt. how someone’s comment sends me back to high school bullying. how i am constantly asking myself are they even really my friends? 

i don’t know. i never throw myself birthday parties because my worst nightmare would be that nobody shows. i just wonder if there’s ever a time that your last insecurities let go. i’ve only ever found that kind of freedom at the honey lips of tequila. i want to be brave at two pm on a sunday. i want to actually not care what they say. i want to be the kind of witch that laughs through the burning.

i don’t know. i hope i’m learning.

A CONVERSATION WITH MY FATHER’S GHOST
 
  
                               Where is all the woman
                               you were born with?
 
Everywhere.
I’ve been setting it down
in pieces my entire life.
  
                              This is the body your mother and I
                              made for you. Why
                              isn’t it good enough?
 
It is good, but it’s not finished yet.
  
                             Do you wish you’d been born a boy?
 
I wish I’d been born an ocean.
Alive and boundless,
with a name too wild
to fit in man’s mouth.
—  A CONVERSATION WITH MY FATHER’S GHOST by Ashe Vernon
Don’t tell me about heartbreak. When my parents got divorced I was only 9 years old. I heard my father say it hurt him more than a thousand knives being stabbed into his heart all at once. I never understood what it means. I thought this is just some poetic way of expressing that you don’t want to lose someone. My father loved my mother for 10 years after the divorce and still probably does even though he knew that she moved on. He still talked about her like she puts the stars in the sky.
When my mother had a brain injury last year in October and it wasn’t sure if she would make it through my dad wanted to see her again, but a lot of things happened and my family decided not to let him see her. I don’t think you understand how hard it was for me to tell him that he isn’t allowed to see the love of his life again. I saw him cry because there is nothing we could do to help my mom. My dad got diagnosed with cancer in January 2017. I turn 20 next year and I saw my dad taking his last breath 4 months ago. I saw how he suffered to his very last moment. I get it now. It was his last wish to see her again. The realization of it hit me when I noticed the picture of my mother hanging above his death bed a few minutes after he died. And in that moment I felt the knives.
—  My father is the reason I believe in true love
If you hurt her, I will not break you, or hurt you, or injure you. I won’t even need to get involved. Because I raised my daughter to be independent and skilled enough to break you for herself, and her way is a lot more painful than anything I could even dream of. She may share her mother’s mind and my heart, but everything about her is individually, confidently, completely her own and that is a very dangerous combination to mess with. I raised my girl to be a wolf so she can deal with predators, not a flower to be admired, then trampled upon. Remember that.
—  My Feminist Dad to my Decidedly Not Feminist Ex | Nikita Gill

oh my father; who came before me, and his father, who died early, and his father, who liked whiskey, and his father, who ran drugs through countries, and his father, who ate too much and shouted plenty, and his father - was this the one that started the cycle? who first raised fist like man raises torch with fire? who first called down thunder onto cowering heads, who brought storms into houses? was it his father before him? where does the blame rest? on whose shoulders do i shrug it? do i pass it off and make my father a better man? cut out the pieces of him that make him a catastrophe? without rage do his hands become carpenter hard but soft and loving, do i no longer flinch when he moves them towards me. without anger do his words become lighter, balloon up and trail on our ceiling and float around without us fearing they will catch on fire. will i see the father of better mornings, when he is at his best, when he is smiling over pancakes and being the man my mother fell in love with. will i no longer guess which father i get today, which switch is flicked, which creature comes out of him. and oh my father, and his father, and so on to the first who raised sons to be a rifle - when i meet him, will he finally be the one to tell me i am loved? that i’m a good enough daughter? when i meet him - god, what if i meet him and the only thing i know how to do is beat him? what if i start the cycle myself, the way that it threatens to keep breathing in me when i raise children. what if. what if.

i see his hands, and carpenter scars and a laugh that shakes a building.

happy father’s day, i write him. oh my father. there will be no more raised hands after me. it doesn’t matter who started it, he’d say to me, i’m ending it. and i’m ending it. after all of this i forgive you, or i’m learning to, or at least i’m learning how not to let it ruin me.

oh my father. i am sorry. and i am free.

did you know, someone once told me i had my father’s smile
i told them thank you even though i wasn’t sure; that just wasn’t something i had seen in a while
i saw the back of your head more often than not
and even more than that, i saw your fist a hell of a lot
the physical pain was nothing compared to the way you left
mom tried to hide it but i heard those tears that she wept
she never saw mine, locked myself away in my room
and i cried and i cried and it’s all because of you
see, you were never a dad; you’re nothing more than a sperm donor
you never saw us as a family, just property and you were our owner
you never really loved us, because love doesn’t cause pain
had a temper that exploded worse than a bottle of champagne
and i tried and i tried to be the son you always wanted
years of not feeling good enough has left me feeling haunted
but now i’m older, wiser, and i know that i wasn’t to blame
and even if you apologized now, nothing would ever be the same
despite how much i hate you, i think i still love you regardless
i’d tell you happy father’s day if i thought this collect call was worth the charges
—  happy father’s day ii - anonymous
(cc, 2017)
“Do u like ur dad?” my
first crush texts me on my
first touch screen phone.
I hesitate, my silence
punctuated by
the drip of my hair
and twelve years of memories.
I reply,
“Sometimes.”


Most of my friend’s dads
vary through
shades of slightly shitty.
There are tiny things that
stick with us like splinters.
Mary’s dad told her
“You used to be so pretty. You need to eat less.”
For the rest of the week I watch her skinny arms push salad around her plate.
Anna jumps in, tell us
her dad also tells her to diet,
as he stuffs a bar of chocolate into his mouth. I wonder at the
shadow she
might have become
if she hadn’t flown half a world
away
from him
before teenage insecurities sank in
teeth first.
(I think of all my own father’s derogatory comments about my weight. Even the men who do not want to fuck us want to
shrink us.)
Anna’s going
back to Australia this year,
back to her father.
He said he’d
cut her off
if she
didn’t.


“You can’t hang out with them”
“Let me read your messages”
“You’re not going out wearing that”


If a girl’s first love is her father
no wonder we flock to men that say “I love you” and mean
“I control you now.“


Mia’s dad
isn’t around much
and she’s glad.
There’s more to being a parent
than impregnating a woman
ten years younger than you,
than once a year visits,
than being Peter Pan,
flying off to Neverland
instead of growing the fuck up.


And there are fathers unfathomable.
Brendan grew up with
bloody noses and black eyes
and broken doors and broken hearts and an encyclopaedia of lies.


My dad is both
quiet
and loud.
We do not have a relationship.
We have slammed doors and
constant criticism and shouting matches.


Some nights I offer him
a tentative
“I love you.”
and he burns it up with his silence.


I can blame him for our lack of anything
these past seventeen years,
and I do.
But what change comes of blame?
We’re both the adults in this relationship now.


So I will wade through the muddy waters
and I will fish out his goodness
conveniently forgotten in childish hurt.


Father,

I love you

for the meals
you have cooked
for us, for the clothes
you have washed for us,
for the house you have cleaned
for us, for the teasing you have endured from three daughters, for the episodes of Doctor Who we watch together, for introducing me to Star Trek, for your love of gardening, for not eschewing femininity, for impersonating our cat, for teaching me to care for the planet, for fixing my laptop, for finding the things I lose, for The Guardian articles you knew I’d find interesting left on my bed, for my left-wing politics, for my inherited sense of humour, for your praise when I rescue my sister from a dead mouse and when I rescue a live mouse from our cat’s jaws, for standing by our family, for all these years, through all these tears.


Father, I know it’s hard
to make an effort when the other person isn’t.
So I will
start conversations with you,
I will give less
one
word
answers,
I will not run
away at the
first sign of stretching silence, I will
appreciate every meal, I will
lash out less,
I will control my reflex
to spit hate at you, I will ask you
to teach me to cook, I will tell you I miss you. I will love you more than
sometimes.
And I will
not
stand at your funeral with nothing to say
except I missed my chance to
let you love
me.

—  Father, forgive me. Father, can I forgive you? // L.H.
4

I had an incredibly sweet commission for a gift for Father’s Day recently: drawings for a story written by the mother of these two little girls, featuring her family and a hapless little dino, unable to fly home with a hurt wing. Luckily the girls take care of the sad critter and their dad manages to fix things.

Thank you Anitia for this inspired commission for a personal family story!

My childhood innocence was stripped when I was about 3, my dad was driving drunk with me in the car and some guy cut him off. So he proceeded to chase him down. Then the guy got out of his car and grabbed a crowbar. I would wake up from naps and my dad was nowhere to be found. Throughout the years I watched him fall down stairs and stumble around. I was terrified. He would come and leave and I would see my mom cry every time. I watched him and my mom scream at each other why I sat on the porch covering my ears. My brother asked me when I was 6 “do you wanna see your dad get beat with a club?” Id go to school and get no relief because I was picked on day after day. I truly believe the trauma of your childhood melds you into someone different. I often wonder what I would have been like if it hadn’t happened. Would I not be a shy, anxiety ridden depressed person? Or would I be exactly the same? I don’t think children should have to have an adult mind and issues. Because then you have all this baggage that weighs you down all the time. It’s always there in your mind. I think people think that children don’t catch on to things or wont remember. But that’s the farthest from the truth. They are so observant. It strips their childhood away from them. And puts them in a position to deal with things that they should have no business having to deal with. If adults have a hard time dealing with it, how do you think it is for children?
—  Chapters from my life