I never could talk to you. The tongue stuck in my jaw. -Daddy, Sylvia Plath
Five days ago, my dad sent me the message above. It stated, “I am proud of you.” This, to some, may be very ordinary, but they are words that I have heard few times during my life. They are words difficult to say, even from the mouths of those that have truly loved me. My family has one way to give apologies and love: food, and I’m too far away to sit down over a piece of pie, and too old to accept that in lieu of a smile or tear.
Because I have heard those words so little, and received very little genuine affection throughout my years, I do not respond to love in the way I want to. I’m a black sheep; always will be. Not even I can smooth my course lines and awkward words: trust me, I have tried.
I have tried to say all the right things, become successful (or what I thought that meant to everyone else). I hid the depressions, and masked what I felt after reaching the line everyone pointed to when I asked “how high,” only to find there was yet another line to reach. These drawn-in lines are now my own; I never give myself a break to shatter, even behind closed doors.
As excited as I am about my upcoming book, I would have traded it for better times. The publication of, Memory Chose a Woman’s Body, is the concrete success I have worked towards, and the fact that my dad sent that message, means that he supports me in what I deem as success; he supports the mask coming down, even if he will not be comfortable with what lives behind it.
Around age 14, I showed a poem to him while he was watching television. He skimmed over it, gave me a pat on the back and never said said much more. The poem was about my need to be heard. Maybe he didn’t understand, maybe he was too busy, maybe, maybe, maybe.
As of five days ago, and in five words, I know I have his blessing, and he now has my attention if he cares to seek it out a bit more. And if not, I believe I am happy with the gift of life, the gift of giving life, and for a chance to be closer to a line I never thought I’d reach–the support of friends, family, and from hundreds of people I have never met! Thank you!