It's so funny, my approach to life has always been this convoluted dichotomy of ideas and practices where I never wanted to give a **** about anyone or anything but I wanted to have a good reason to do so. I couldn't just chalk myself up to being an *******, I wanted the freedom of some diagnosable dilapidated mental state. Like somehow if I could just write my apathy and general laziness up to some kind of disorder then it would all be justified and I could feel at ease about just letting life pass me by and letting people who love me down, over and over again. The whole process has been so ******* and backwards that I started to feel like maybe my goals have been achieved, and by just working towards this contradictory state of mind I actually managed to make myself some kind of insane. The act of wanting to not give a **** about anything, whilst simultaneously wanting a good reason to be that way perhaps set me aside as the thing I wanted to be most in life: crazy.
My father is schizophrenic, and he left when I was maybe ten or eleven years old but I never hated him for it. In fact in my adolescence I actually idolized and envied him for the freedom of responsibility that was granted to him through his diagnosis, I saw it as a boon in life. A way to cast aside the obligations every one of us faces in a modern society and just live day to day like nothing ever mattered. I wanted that same freedom, but more than that I wanted the same reaction that his behavior garnered from other people in my life. No one was ever angry, or hated him for how he acted. They all just pitied him and would spout throw-away lines like "well, what can we expect?" or "I'm sorry your father is so sick, Justin." when he came up in conversation. My mouth watered at the thought of all that precious pity, I craved that dismissive demeanor that people gave him. Like sighing when a seagull takes your sandwich, what else did you expect would happen? It's pointless to hate the animal because it's just doing all that it knows how to do. There's no sense being angry, or even disappointed. You learn to hide your food better next time but ultimately you have to accept that it's just a part of life, and the only thing anyone could ever do is just sigh and hope that it never happens again. For years I wanted that same sympathy, I wanted to be crazy and lazy and not give a **** about the people who loved me. I wanted to be just like my Dad.
It took me a good twenty six years and my Mom having an (ultimately fatal) aneurysm to finally realize that this way I've been living my life would never grant me any semblance of freedom at all, and in fact the things I actually wanted the most were those same loved ones and obligations that I've been absconding from all this time. Not only were those the things that I wanted most, but they were what I needed to bring me that much craved sense of freedom and justification that I've been looking for all along. Now I'm almost thirty one years old and I think I realize now that my father was never free, never liberated from any form of societal norms or responsibilities, rather, he was just but a prisoner. Locked in a mental jail cell, a drunk tank within his own mind. He couldn't escape his inability to be a fulfilling father, he was locked up within his psychosis and there was never a key to begin with. I think now that maybe him leaving was more about doing the wrong thing for all the right reasons, and I mourn for his presence in my life and for the sorrow he must've felt when he said goodbye. I can feel his sorrow echo in my conscience, for I know that even with his cursed, so-called freedom of responsibility, the things he always wanted most was just to be able to be there for me. I don't hate my father, but I do pity him and I no longer want any part of that pity for myself. I'm still a lot like him, but rather than embracing the worst parts of who he is I try to channel the positive aspects instead. I try my damnedest. Besides, at one point in his life he was a man that my Mom fell in love with. A charming, handsome guy that had a relentless love for cars and games and laughter that went unrivaled by anyone else I had ever known, back when I was young and still spending time with him. He could cast a spell on anyone and illicit laughter and smiles, genuine and hearty joy.
Those aspects are what I now choose to remember, what I now choose to channel and project. Because what are parents really? Just people who are trying to take all the best parts of themselves and pour them into their children. They're just people, nothing magic, nothing sacred, working at crafting us into better versions of themselves. To that point I say that he may have succeeded (though I'm still awfully terrified at the prospect of fatherhood,) and although what I thought I learned from his absence in my life was misconstrued in my mind for so so many years, the true lesson that he taught me is so brutally simple. To just be there.
At one point or another everyone wants to be just like their Dad.