I sat there completely numb, staring at the red wax I had spilled on the carpet many years ago, an SNP car drove down the street singing through the gap in my open windows. The sound travelled through me as I listened to it screaming, away from eyesight. Powerful and together. I glanced back at the residue left from the blu tac on my bedroom wall, a sour expression shaped my face.
I knew deep down it was going to end up this way. But he’d always managed to escape unscathed. His mental well being was always his silent defence, except that the reality this time was that he wasn’t the same version of himself, the one that I used to know. He was together and then he wasn’t, and then he was everywhere and I couldn’t keep up, understand or help. And that was my father. I cursed my curiosity for trying to find him. For hoping he would be well. I was wrong and it hurt me more than I ever expected to. At least he was alive was the conclusion i took from finding out his whereabouts.
Change did it. He egged me on. My life was moving on to new a chapter and I was happy. “I am an adult now”, I would tell myself confidently as I wrote him letter’s I would never send.
But I didn’t feel powerful, only exhausted. I got up and shoved some of my old paper work into a bin bag and moved it to the floor. A slight wave of relief brushed over me as I stared at the newly clean area of my bed – the rest covered in various belongings. Trying to feel settled in chaos was overwhelmingly familiar.
Finding him in jail was unexpected. It was already shaping me. I thought about this as I sat amongst my disorder and pulled out an old shoebox, the sentimental sort. One by one I investigated and remembered, plastics cats I used to get on top of my birthday cake every year, various badges of childhood authority, letters, post cards, birthday cards. I found my dad’s collection of random pictures and cards. I looked through them, stroking the fabric on one, appreciating the moment of nostalgia.Full of effort, they were the put-together-art kind or one’s with cats on the covers. He knew me even if I didn’t see him. At the time, I would proudly place them beside my other cards, hoping people would see that it was from my dad.Hoping I wouldn’t have to answer any questions of his whereabouts. It was a child thing to do. Still I kept a hold of them because I knew the importance of the simplest of things. I remember the feeling of disappointment waiting by the back door to catch a glimpse of him dropping them off. I never did.
I am the way because of my parents, my many traits knotted together with theirs. Unintentionally intertwined. My determination most definitely stems from my disorder of growing up. The constant not knowing how his mind was when I started seeing him again. The constant reliance on the bare minimum. My mum being the best kind of support system growing up, always caring.
My parents divorced when I was only young. It doesn’t bother me at all. It never has, the absent father was the thing to do and I understood that. I remember being a toddler and seeing the unhappiness between them. I shouldn’t of known they weren’t supposed to be together. I shouldn’t be acknowledging anything other than my farm animals and my lack of juice in my sippy cup at that age, but I have always always been aware of other people’s emotions.
And emotion is what drives me every single moment of every day. Every decision based on the foundations of my life so far.
I packed my happy memories into a bigger box and wrote on the side of it. The bad news had been there a month and I still hadn’t had time to process it, or the true meaning behind his safety. I was finishing off all my third year assessments, most of which could only be completed at my university, a two hour journey from where I lived. I was working part time at the weekend, and was doing a full time internship for two weeks at Think Publishing. I was working for Sky News for the General Election in a few days and then moving to my new home two days after.
I was stressed, and this meant that my pain was concealed by my need to keep going. Right now as I write this. It hurts. I’m hurting. But I have never been more grateful and happy for having such a stable relationship with my boyfriend, friends and family. I think that’s probably why I can’t feel settled in my new home. My links to my past and my experiences have been left in my old home and for the first time in my life – my chaos has not followed and overshadowed me like before.
I’m used to feeling submerged by my problems and fighting through it. I’m used to the familiarity of striving for stableness but never achieving it. Slowly and with the right people I got there, I am living a stable life, Its hurts knowing he may never be able to, or even thinking about the possibility of him never knowing how if feels. Because it changes you and I wish he knew how nice it feels. I wish I could have what I have always wanted, which is a stable relationship with him. But I am not sure that is ever going to be a possibility. But life is unexpected. I guess I don’t know him anymore, he may become well again. It may happen. I remain hopeful – as any loving daughter would.
Honestly, I always expected trouble, because with illness, trouble follows like a twisted slave. I just never expected to find him in jail for something constructed by his ill mind. I hope they have moved him to a facility where they can take care of him. I hope they can help him become himself again. And then maybe, I can resume my role as daughter. I wonder now that my need to find him was because I am trying to sabotage my own stability and surround myself with chaos to feel okay again. After all, any negative experience only makes you cautious.