It is hard to watch your childhood drift away. Like the waves of the ocean rolling back to the sea. The memories fade and return to their place of origin. I sit on the porch, sipping my coffee, watching the sea roll back and forth. To watch your father lose his faculties, lose all the parts of him that made him your father, to realize he is just a man. No more. No less. Prone to the elements just like the rest of the world. Prone to the thrashing of the winds of life, and the grinding of the sands of time. Your father is your first concept of man. If they will be kind, if they will be harsh, attentive or distant. You tuck this information away into your child’s mind, to pull it out again on those first nights of discovery. The nights when you begin to feel those same distant memories, coming forward as new thoughts. Is this man you are with, the person in front of you, the one that is asking to access the most intimate parts of you, going to take care of them? Or will he toss it all aside, discard them with no knowledge of their worth, just like your father. What are you to expect from this person in front of you, looking deeply into your eyes, asking you to love them, to let them love you. The same way you must have looked at your father at one point. Asking him to love you. Watching him choose to love someone else. Choose to let you fall away and find your own way in the world. Perhaps it was something you did, something you said, or perhaps it had nothing to do with you at all. It never usually does. Our childhoods haunt us all our lives sometimes, becoming a parent does not mean you put down all your demons at the door of the hospital room. The day you become a parent does not cleanse you of all your past sins or regrets, does not cleanse your soul of all its misdeeds or absolve your own parents of their crimes. All that happens, is that a new person enters your life, and you make a choice on how you want to treat them. How they will fall into the patchwork quilt of your life. Perhaps you will choose to make them the center of it. Or perhaps you will leave it off altogether. Never getting around to adding it to your life in any real way. But what of the missing pieces, the broken pieces, the pieces never added or included, never loved or taken notice of? What is to become of them? They are to sit here on this porch, watching the waves roll in and out. Thinking of their father, and the man he used to be.
Bethany Barton is an LA based author and relationship coach that writes about all things dating and relationships. Check out her work at www.apologiesinevergot.com, @apologiesinevergot.