I’ve heard it said that children of broken homes are predisposed to create broken homes of their own when the time comes around, but I happen to think that’s an irresponsible bullshit mentality. It’s thoroughly dismissing our own accountability for the choices we make in life, and that sort of thing always tends to piss me off.
I won’t deny that it is a bit more of a challenge to build a healthy and stable home and family life when your dominant example is far from being either of those things…but life itself is a fucking challenge, and we’re supposed to overcome them, that’s part of the joy and spice of life. I admit that I’m not the most sympathetic person when I hear the sort of victim mentality that’s manifest in claiming that a troubled childhood will produce more of the same when that child becomes a parent in their own right. The worst part is that I am a walking fucking billboard for that philosophy being correct…but I am not a fuck up because my childhood was difficult. I’m a fuck up because, plain and simple, I am a fuck up.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have never been adequately suited for relationships, not the functional variety at the very least. This is the sort of thing I am reminded of time and again, just when I start to believe that something is different. My insecurities, my aberrant state of mind, and my overall poor impulse control have definitely worked against me plenty in the past…but there is also the simple fact that I have typically been happier on my own, that allowing someone to truly become a part of my life has always terrified me.
Where problems don’t exist naturally I have sabotaged myself more than enough for a lifetime or two. Little things become amplified from my perspective and I become easily irritated at the slightest provocation, trivial little problems become deal breakers, and I begin looking for a way out. I panic when I feel like someone is getting close to me to an extent that I’m not comfortable with, which leads me to become defensive and to take things far less seriously than I should. I was always closed off and guarded, emotionally distant and unavailable to an unhealthy degree. At one point I described myself to a girl I was involved with as being like a treacherously rocky shore, hiding dangerous stones beneath the surface of what might appear to be a safe harbor…and the closer the ships drew in (the ships being women in this analogy, did I really need to explain that to you?), the greater the damage that was done. I don’t know why I felt that it was dangerous to be close to me, but it was like that before the accident as well, it just got worse after that.
I’ll spend a little while really going into detail regarding what I mean when I talk about how ruinous I am in relationships, right now I’m more focused on the broken homes that I mentioned previously. If I was not hardwired for relationships you can only guess how poorly suited I was for parenthood. There was a substantial part of me that never wanted kids, primarily because I was horrified that I would end up being just like my father and that any children I had would be subjected to a life where they would experience the same sort of perpetual state of terror that I had…or worse.
I was still all sorts of fucked up from the accident when, only a year later, I discovered I was going to be a father. I tried to put on a brave face and be supportive, I wanted to smile and be happy about the new life that I was helping to bring into the world…but I had to pretend, in order to do so. Inside, I was so fucking broken and damaged, I was petrified…this was like a nightmare for me. I was suddenly going to be in a position to fuck someone else’s life up just like I was fucking up my own. I’d be lying if there wasn’t a part of me that considered running as far away as possible, it would be better to be raised with no father than the father I was going to be…of course, I did not run. My oldest daughter was born when I was 17 years old and her brother was conceived only six months later, entirely without any intention on my part or the part of their mother.
Not only was I barely more than a child myself, but I was also intensely filled with guilt and self-loathing in about equal measure at that time in my life. I was certainly not fit to be a father to anyone, nonetheless those two beautiful children, even if I had the slightest idea what I was doing, which, I might add, I did not. I would like to say that I gave it my best effort, at least my failings as a parent could be perceived as less of an overall failure of character if that had been the case…but I know damn well that I could have done a substantially better job of it than I did. The fact of the matter is that I still could be a better father than I am today, but I am trying…and I have been for quite some time now. It just took me a little bit too damn long to finally pull my head out of my ass and learn that I could do something more than fail miserably.
Having had additional children over the intervening years (because I clearly never learned to quit while I was ahead), I haven’t gotten much better at knowing what the hell I’m doing…I have no problem admitting that. I can say with certainty that I have never laid a hand on my children out of anger, nothing more than the occasional spanking, at least…and I subscribe to the school of thought that punishment of that variety is not a bad thing, even though I’ve never been able to accomplish a spanking without feeling bad about it immediately after. I am still far from perfect in my parenting, and anyone who has witnessed the way that I interact with my children would be ready to join in a chorus of affirmation there. I’m flawed as all hell, but I think I have done a reasonably good job of insuring that the children know that I love them and that I am always there for them. I realize that I have still been emotionally distant and disconnected, even from the children, for a major part of their lives…but that didn’t mean I didn’t love them and treasure them just the same.
I worry sometimes that I might have fucked my own kids up in a lot of the same ways that I have been, and still am to this day, fucked up. Somehow, though, they have all seemed to turn out quite well, despite my influence. I’m proud of them, even when they make mistakes…thankfully they tend not to make mistakes comparable to my own. Maybe I have gotten lucky enough that they learned from my errors and haven’t felt the need to replicate them, or maybe they are just better people than I was, better people than I am today. Either way, I don’t have much to worry about there.
They may be products of broken homes and a severely broken parent, but they are in no way broken themselves. I may be living proof of the fact that children of broken homes produce them in turn, but my own children give me a fair deal of hope that they can provide ample evidence to the contrary. Let’s keep our fingers crossed…and don’t be so jaded.