by Jennifer on January 18, 2009

A very long time ago, my dad taught me how to throw a spiral football pass.

Not a bad thing for a person to know, and not a bad skill for a girl to have in her back pocket, something to pull out when she needs to up her cool chick factor by a few degrees.

I remember that afternoon, on the hill beside our house – an acre or so of grass that ended where the garden started at the bottom of the hill. He showed me how to spread my fingers across the laces and how to turn into the throw and how to rotate the ball. Before long, I got the hang of it. I wasn’t great at it, but I could do it.

I don’t remember if he announced that’s what he would teach me that day, or why we were out there tossing a football. It wasn’t something we usually did, and maybe that’s why it stands out. It’s a good memory, though. In a tangle of weeds, a wildflower.

Last week, I threw the mother of all spirals to my dad.

I told him about my blog.

He called to talk about some things – all of them, added together, amounting to the distance he feels that I’ve been keeping from him and the things I’ve been keeping from him. He wasn’t wrong, at least not about that. In the last year – specifically, since I began to write about the things that happened in our family – I’ve had a very hard time behaving as though the wrongness of it all, of his part in what happened, hasn’t knocked me backward into other years, into rooms we all left behind long ago. Off balance, I’ve felt like I needed to retreat, or else risk a conversation that I’m not sure want to have with him if it’s not going to make any real difference in his understanding of things.

I knew I’d have to tell him sooner or later about my blog, though. My mother found this place a few months ago, and some of my dad’s old friends found it, too. But if he was going to find out, I wanted to be the one to tell him. The phone call last week felt like a door had creaked open and was waiting for me to tell him to walk through it. And I did, reluctantly.

The idea of any of my parents reading here is uncomfortable for me. There’s a lot that I’d rather keep separate, like provisions stashed inside a fort and me in charge of who will share them. Yet when I began to use my full name, I also knew it was inevitable that they would know eventually. My decision to fly my own flag came from feeling that until I attached my name to the things I was telling, I hadn’t really done everything I set out to do, which was to tell the truth and not to be afraid of the fallout.

We are all different when it comes to our own stories. It’s not always safe to use real names, and doesn’t always serve a purpose. My decision was very particular and individual to my own circumstances. I was ready for the world to know, and it was a decision I made with my sister’s blessing. After all, some of them are her stories, too.

Still, it’s not without consequences (everyone wave to my mother).

I sent my dad the link to this blog, along with links to particular posts within the archives, and then I waited. In the last few days, he’s spent a few hours reading (or so Sitemeter tells me).

I thought he might call, especially after reading some of the essays, but he hasn’t. Of course, there were a few posts that didn’t cast him in the best light, so I understand if there are some hurt feelings. Still, I don’t regret anything I’ve written. I intend to keep writing about my family when I need to, without editing myself any more than I have. It’s the attitude I embraced after my mother found this place, and it’s the one I hope to pull off from here forward.

Maybe, at some point, my father and I will have a conversation about all of this. I doubt it will be as easy as it was to learn how to throw a football.

Until then, my throw hangs in the space between us, spinning.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenn @ Juggling Life January 18, 2009 at 11:33 pm

You are one gutsy chick. Go you!

anymommy January 19, 2009 at 1:59 am

Brave. I hope he catches it for you, you deserve this.

Indigo January 19, 2009 at 8:21 am

The fact your parents are reading, says something. Mine are not even, nor have they looked for me in any format.

When I first started writing it was suppose to be about living life in silence, having gone Deaf. Eventually the flow from mind to fingers, onto the page before me became memories. A raw emotional deluge. Paul (my other half) knew I was writing and asked to read one day. He knew bits and pieces, not quite the whole story.

It was far easier to tell total strangers, than someone sitting right next to me. In the end it was beneficial for us both. Those things I couldn’t say out loud, I can with uncanny ease type on a page before me.

I hope in so many ways it’s the same for you with your parents reading. That ability to say and be more courageous than you could ever be with mere words. Honesty can hurt, it can also be a balm to painful memories. I hope your dad reads those words, and then understands the tremendous courage it took to write them. (Hugs)Indigo

Candy January 19, 2009 at 10:50 am

I can’t imagine the limbo you must be in right now. I would think this is a huge leap for you though. To finally have your father’s knowledge that this happened, and we all know it…fingers crossed for you and your sister.

JCK January 19, 2009 at 11:14 am

I applaud your courage and determation to be authentic and not put down words that are not the truth of what you’ve lived. I can also understand the difficulty of this. Your work (and it is a body of work) sings to us, BECAUSE it is honest.

the mama bird diaries January 19, 2009 at 11:59 am

you are brave and honest. have no regrets about having a more authentic relationship with your dad.

fancy feet January 19, 2009 at 12:12 pm

I am so moved by your courage and guts. I just wrote a post about how it takes guts to live this life and you are proof of that. You’re staying true to you and your heart and you can’t go wrong with that.

Green Girl January 19, 2009 at 12:14 pm

You are braver than me–good for you!

Reluctantfarmchik January 19, 2009 at 12:18 pm

I think talking (or in your case writing and their case reading) is a great step – the information has to flow or it will continue to stagnate (and stink) and fester. It is a courageous step – and I hope it turns out positively. At the very least it will be cleansing for you.

Emily R January 19, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Dude, I can’t believe you even speak to any of them.

Jennifer Harvey January 19, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Mama Bird – Thanks – working on it, just unsure of the outcome.

fancy feet – Thanks for the kind words. I’ll be sure to check out your post.

Green Girl – Not sure it’s bravery as much as something that became necessary, but thank you for what you said.

farmchik – The writing has helped more than I can say.

Emily – There are days when I wonder, too. It’s the good days that confuse things.

Kimberly January 19, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Wow. That’s very brave of you. And the right thing to do too. He really did need to learn about it from you.

I hope he catches that pass, and passes it right back.

flutter January 19, 2009 at 8:15 pm

His hurt will subside and he will call. You are more than worth that

Ree January 20, 2009 at 9:10 am

I can’t even imagine what you were feeling when you made that call – but I don’t doubt that it was a relief when it was over – regardless of the outcome.

jenrantsraves January 20, 2009 at 12:41 pm

You are brave and strong, and I think that in order for you and your dad to have a relationship this HAD to be brought out into the open. I really hope that he says what you want him to say, but if he doesn’t, at least you know that you did what you could.

Suzanne January 20, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Recently a cliche recently hit me as true: we are the stars of our own films, and each of us is creating our own film every day. So, your father may never be able to fully understand the perspective you bring to what you write here because he saw it through the filter of his own life. Hopefully, while it may be difficult for him to read some of the things you see and feel, hopefully it will provide him with insight into you and your perspective on the past and present.

Em January 21, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Wow – really, I applaud you. I know it must be hell waiting, but your courage to tell it like it is amazes me.

As you know, my blog is under a pseudonym, part for privacy, part to give me courage to say the things I want to say. My mother does not know that I have a “me” blog. She has access to my family one, but that’s it. I imagine she guesses I have another one. I do not allow her to see it because I pretend her opinion means nothing to me, but if it truly meant nothing, I would tell her about it, wouldn’t I?

37 and still needing my mother’s approval. Someone get me a couch.

I hope you hear good things from your father very soon.

RiverPoet January 22, 2009 at 8:31 am

Girl, all you can do is throw the ball and wait for the receiver to take it the rest of the way. Sometimes there are nail-biting moments when you’re not sure if he’ll fumble it or not, but in the end, the play is in motion.

Like Em, I applaud you for doing this. It took a tremendous amount of courage, and I know it will turn out okay. Wonderfully told, as always – D

phd in yogurtry January 23, 2009 at 8:13 am

Kudos for your courage. It could be a real blessing for the ‘rents. to get to know their daughter better. Or a nightmare. Or both. Regarding mine, I like your phrase, wishing to keep things separate. I have a long built up habit of expecting (from having gotten) criticism. I’d like to keep that out of my head and off of my blog. So even if I didn’t keep things anon for professional reasons, I probably would in this case, too.

Louise January 23, 2009 at 3:17 pm

First amid all this pouring out of your heart and serious writing, I nearly spit out my chocolate (because what else would be in my mouth right now?) at this: “Still, it’s not without consequences (everyone wave to my mother).” Lord knows there have been some UGLY consequences in that department…. UGLY. And stupid. And childish. HI JENNIFER’S MOM! I know about some recent e-mails that I think you sent directly to Jennifer because you’re afraid of being attacked online. My opinion of you isn’t improving! And really, you are so naive. But this isn’t about you….

Emily R’s comment made me laugh, too. It is a wonder. Someone recently said, “He’s lucky you even speak to him.” True. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think I would. He IS lucky. One would think one might recognize that. The ability of people to not own up to their failings astounds me. All of us have them. Facing them and addressing the issues is NOT a failing. Ignoring them is an additional one. I can’t disagree with anything Mr. H said, either. Seems to me there is a LOT of selfishness going on, and it’s the parents… ALL of them.

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