By Roman King | USA
It is a genuine tragedy that I never got to know my dad. I lived with him for fifteen years until his paranoia, alcoholism, and bipolarism made him decide to ditch us and leave for Arizona. In those fifteen years, I never got to see the man my mom swears existed at one point. Perhaps the biggest tragedy was that indeed, I got to see glimpses of what could be, had his own demons not ruined him; I got to see a loving, caring man who would take a bullet for those he cared about. It was a shame, then, that this was often displaced by bitterness, drunken tirades, reclusiveness, and the tendency to change from happy to furious with the snap of a finger. I got to see glimpses of a man who was active about his hobbies, but this was offset by the constant apathy I saw him demonstrate when he laid in bed for entire weekends, not caring to participate in the family unit. Indeed, what I knew of him wasn’t much good.
I knew that there was a man with noble goals there, underneath the shadow that had fully enveloped him, but there was nothing my mom and I could do to reach down there. What a tragic story he had growing up, too. Without getting into details, it is the kind of stuff that needs copious amounts of alcohol to wash away.
The destruction of the family unit is always something to lament, but it’s hit me personally. He won’t really ever know me, or God forbid my younger brother. At least my dad got to see me begin to spring into something of a future. The odds of him seeing me come to fruition are low, but at least he got to see me do something outside of the expected realm of growing up. My younger brother is nine! Nine years young!
My dad, who has contacted me exactly once in 2018 and incredibly sparingly since the writing of this over three months ago, won’t get that luxury of watching little Alex become something closer to a man. I can only update so much; I can only give sparse commentary to my dad about the utter growth my brother will soon have. God, that’s truly awful. He won’t get to see his own son sprout into adolescence, and my brother won’t have a dad there with him. It’s heartwrenching.
It is a psychological and emotional catastrophe; it is unfair. The absolvement of that close relationship is an incredible problem because it is an intense deviation from the norm. I would argue that having a problematic dad is better than not having one there at all. This is something that is generally true throughout life; the absence of a problem is much more negative than the problem itself. Not having a problem means that there is nothing to solve and no opportunity to improve the problem because there’s not a problem to improve upon.
As much as I am angry towards my dad for abandoning his parental responsibilities and refusing to get help, I would much rather he suffer these terrible mental battles at home, surrounded by people that unequivocally love him, than at a psych ward thousands of miles away from any semblance of family. Yet another tragedy that stemmed from not confronting a shadow.
There is no point holding bitter feelings towards him, I’ve found. That’s much different than simply feeling angry; I’m of the opinion that you have the right to feel emotion when life deals you a blow. When you experience heartbreak, you are allowed to feel sad. When you are lonely, you are allowed to lament that. When you become enraged, you are allowed to boil off and yell. The problem comes when you do not take care of yourself and allow these negative emotions to continue to stop you from growing as a person. That is where things spiral out of control. Tragedies and catastrophes must be kept scaled down to the lowest scale of importance based on your own belief systems; that’s the miracle of surviving life.
To move forward in your life despite unimaginable tragedy; tragedy much worse than just losing a family member, perhaps, you must be able to control the events so that they don’t cause a ripple through what you yourself believe in. It is much better to suffer unimaginably within the framework of which you’ve set yourself in than to question the framework altogether. At least when you feel pain within your own belief system you have something to lean against when you’re out of breath; when the framework collapses, you are left with nothing. If you react to a catastrophe by leaving your belief system to the wind, you will be entirely swept away, and you will face the immeasurable peril of being completely defenseless, from a psychological perspective.
When my dad did eventually leave to the middle of God-knows-where, it was a crushing event. This is undeniable. Such relationship-altering events are bound to cause problems. As much as he was a broken person, I would argue that it’s much better to have a cracked pillar holding up a structure than no pillar whatsoever. All of the above individual factors I talked about made the entire situation incredibly confusing and painful for me to cope with.
The only reason it did not entirely destroy me is because I contained the suffering I felt within a structured, closed system that I knew well and could count on: my mother and brother. The system might be different for you than it was for me, but the important thing is that you had a structure. The direction I had planned in life was not altered. My life plans did not change. My morals, ego, and personality did not change as a direct result of the event. The psychological destruction was kept to an absolute minimum. This is indescribably important.
You can take this mindset to any problem; as a matter of fact, this is probably one of the best ways depressed people can try and take some sort of control over their mind back. Without conscious effort, a depressed person’s mind will take a moderate/minor problem, expand it exponentially, and demonstrate how it ruins the entire belief system and justify why that problem was just another reason to put a gun to their head and pull the trigger. It really is that tragic and it really is that extreme — as Jordan Peterson put it, “…these realizations hit with the certainty of absolute truth.” The best way to counteract this would be, then, to put as much effort as physically and mentally possible to limiting the problem within a small domain, or any domain for that matter.
Suffering is such a characteristic trait of life that the statement “life is suffering” is accurate beyond a reasonable doubt. Just because this is true, however, does not mean that we as people should keel over and accept that; ideally, you should try and disrupt that endless cycle. Despite your best efforts, however, you will undoubtedly suffer somewhat in your life — it is best to be prepared for strife when it knocks on your door.