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This isn’t a story I want to tell; rather, it’s one I have to tell. It may seem to meander some as I set it stage, but every word represents the truth as I understand it. 

First, the distant past. It would seem that seventy some years ago, my paternal grandparents split up because my grandfather was abusive (they had two daughters at this point). Later on, they tried to reconcile, and my dad was the result. Sadly, the marriage didn’t last, and my dad was forbidden from knowing his dad (or his dad’s side of the family). I’m told he saw him for the last time at the age of twelve. Fast forward to the early fifties, and as they were playing my dad and his sisters found out their mother was remarrying that very morning. I’m given to understand that neither my aunts, nor my dad, had any idea about the nuptials.

Not too long thereafter, at the age of fifteen, my aunt came down with a case of the pregnants. My understanding is that, at some time after their wedding, my step grandfather began touching his step kids. For instance, kids being kids they would have the radio on at night; because it was ostensibly loud, dad would come into the room to turn it down. Apparently, the radio’s knob isn’t what he fiddled with. It was, again, at this time that my aunt got pregnant and moved out. 

As is so often the case, no one talked about it at the time; it was much, much later that folks began to compare stories. There were other things, too: this same man would stay up late watching “snow” on the television. He also apparently jabbed babies in the back of the hand with his fork should they dare reach across his plate at the dinner table… By the time I was born, he was older, nearing retirement age. Perhaps he had beaten whatever demons afflicted him? Who knows? What I heard is that despite what my parents knew about the man, I was left there as a toddler (my grandmother was home). When my mom picked me up, she smelled a funny smell. In fact, she called my cousin, stating that “his sweet baby face smells like semen.” Whether this is true, or not, I’ve no idea; it is however entirely consistent with the man’s character.
Blessedly, I have entirely no memories of this incident. What I can tell you is that, as I briefly sketched out above, it’s not the only such story to swirl around this man. In fact, upon her deathbed, my grandmother threw her hospital tray at him, inviting him to “Go to Hell!” Apparently, she could no longer ignore the the reports she heard, and wanted to clear her conscience in light of her impending demise.

Ladies and gentlemen, abuse is cyclical. Growing up, my dad was distant. Sarcastic and cutting when he was present, but all the awhile emotionally unavailable. He was long gone before he ever left our family. I can’t say with any certainty what he went through as a child; he’s never spoken to me of it. In fact, we don’t speak at all.

That is the legacy of abuse. It destroys families and shatters lives.

Changes

randomlychad  —  August 2, 2014 — 3 Comments

I’m not one to do things by half measures. I’m, like most men, sort of binary like that. I either don’t workout at all, or (like now) I’ve joined a gym, and am working out days per week.

It’s all about changes, really. I see my body changing, my energy flagging, and my waistline expanding. Time was, I didn’t have to do anything about it. I could eat what I wanted.

But the carefree days of youth are gone–replaced by sobering reality:

Things cannot continue as they have been. It’s time that childish ways were put behind me (while simultaneously keeping my childlike sense of wonder intact). I think about the future, about being there for my family…

It’s about far more than just exercise–as important as that is. It’s about setting an example, about leaving a legacy. To that end, while I’m exercising the self-discipline to condition my body, I’m also involved in counseling. Because I want to discipline my soul. I want to free myself from the wrong ways I’ve handled things.

I want to set an example for my family that continues long after I’m gone.

I want to finish strong.

So I work, and strive, now to build not just a better body, but a better soul. For it was for freedom that Christ set us free. I don’t want to continue to be entangled in the negative influences, and patterns, that have shaped me until now. It’s time to let that go.

I’ve learned something along the way I’d like to pass onto you:

It’s not enough to just let something (bad, negative, hurtful, sinful) go; no, else we risk leaving a void.

We have to replace those former things with something good, uplifting, holy.

You see, I’m making a lot of changes lately. I’m tearing down one house in order to build it upon a better foundation.

Changes.

Are there any you need to make?

There are things that bother me. And things that bother me.

For instance, the Bachelor/ette bothers me. I can’t stand the contrived drama, and the way the show makes light of love.

Something, on the other hand, that bothers me, just really gets under my skin, is how I can be with my son, how he gets under my skin.

The thing is, I feel like I struggle more than I should–like it doesn’t come naturally. And maybe that’s true.

But the fact is: the things about him that most bother me are not our differences, but our similarities. As the father, so the son.

He’s just like me.

And that, at times, gets under my skin. Because I want him to better than me. When the time comes, I want him to be there for his kids in ways that I wasn’t for him.

And I commit to you all to continue to struggle on as a husband, and a dad. Like that other, more famous (Indiana) Jones, I feel like I’m making this up as I go along. But I am going along.

What I want–(“tell me you want, what you really, really want”)–is for my son, both my kids, to live a better story than I ever have.

That’s where you come in. In trying to live a better life–a better story–before the eyes of my wife, kids, you, I’m asking for your prayers.

Will you commit to pray for me as I lead my family in love? As I continue to pour my heart out here on the blog?

Thanks, and God bless you,

Chad

How can I pray for you?

I recently learned something about my childhood that I have no memories of. I don’t doubt it–it rings true. It’s regarding me, my dad, and playing ball. I’m told I was about three at the time, and my dad wanted to teach me how to play catch.

The catch is that he was an accomplished athlete, and I was a gangly toddler. And each time he threw–I’m guessing it was a football–and I didn’t catch, he would throw harder.

At my stomach.

As I said, I don’t remember this, but my mom does. (She saw this transpire, and by her recollection, did nothing insofar as I know, at the time). He got angrier and angrier, and threw harder and harder, until I was reduced to tears.

I can only surmise that in his mind he thought he was trying to to toughen me up. But let’s call it what it was: bullying. A grown man, and skilled athlete, making a toddler cry? That’s not power–because anyone could do that–that’s just sheer meanness.

What keeps me up at night is that, despite his not being a regular part of my life since I was about thirteen, is that I can be just as mean. In trying to prepare my own son for the adult world, there are times I’ve gone overboard with the whole “trying to toughen him up” routine. For that, I’m truly sorry.

With regards to my dad: it’s hard to say, and not something I want to see–but the things I hate about him, are the things I hate about me.

God help me: I am my father’s son.

Please note: I’m not sharing this here to impugn my dad’s character, as he stands, or falls, by his own actions. Just as I stand, or fall, by mine. Bringing this to light here, and now, stems from the notion that I’m not alone. And if I’m not alone, neither are you. It’s my hope that by sharing some my story, you will be encouraged to share yours, or see something of yours in mine.

Which brings me to: can you relate?