“You got to keep in the game;
Retaining mystique while facing forward.
I suggest a reading of a lesson in tightropes
Or surfing your high hopes, or adios Kansas it is … ” *
This was one of my son Simon’s favourite songs when we was 10. He says it’s the piano that he likes best, but I’m pretty sure it also appeals to a Rufus Wainwright-like existential angst that he likely inherited from me. He’s the kid I
have to watch as he approaches the teen years. Unlike sweet Jasper (17), Simon has a dark side that makes him prone to moodiness and “rage mode” (as we call it). He’s no sociopath, but I see a familiar tortured soul behind those hazel eyes. It makes me love him even more, but I also fear he may follow in my footsteps to addiction or other ways to cope with life. Which makes me wonder: Why?
Simon does not have my childhood. He wasn’t sexually abused at 6. He doesn’t live within an impossibly rigid (and hypocritical) framework of Christian fundamentalism. And he isn’t the product of a broken marriage, at least not yet. And I say that lovingly. [Every Christmas my mother-in-law Freda tells me that if Suzy and I ever get divorced, she (Freda) will still be my friend. I take that as a comforting (but sorta weird) compliment.]
So it’s interesting to consider how a little boy can be so like his dad, without the same inputs. If my inner happy child is longing to escape nurture, how can angst be Simon’s nature? It doesn’t seem fair. None of it, actually. And I know this because I’ve spent the past 18 months in intense therapy to try to figure this all out. (But more on this – and other painful but liberating observations – in 2015).
I sat down here tonight thinking I would write about New Year’s, and why I’m alone in the dark, writing, on the third floor of my house while my family is bouncing between festive neighbourhood parties. The thing is, I have no more to give this year. Not one more conversation. No more ‘maintaining mystique while facing forward.’ I’m not saying I had the worst year of anyone – far from it. But the best single word to describe 2014 is “Exhausting.”
Despite everything – death, destruction, disappointment – I will remember 2014 as the year that I faced the truth and consequences of some very painful early experiences that (for better or worse) have made me who I am. I’ve been quiet on this site for the past year because the first stage of this carefully managed and expertly counseled exploring is Rage Mode. Blogging for revenge is not sweet. And now, with the love and support of my patient wife, I’m ready to tell this story – little by little – just to let it go. I want to breathe deeply for the first time in my life. And, hopefully, be an even better dad.
So that’s why I’m in the dark tonight, quietly saying goodbye to an excruciating year, eager for a shiny new one.
Happy New Year! May 2018 be full of hope, love and forgiveness for All (especially for ourselves).
* Rufus Wainwright. “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk”
(Start at 2:12)