So in our house I have boxes, actually lots of boxes that are still all packed up. Waiting for me to unpack them and do something with its contents. Mostly, I go through those boxes and purge when I’m in a cleaning mood. Other times I go through and reminisce about whats in that box. Now, I’m not talking about the boxes that store our Holiday decorations or anything like that. I’m talking about a different type of box.
I’ve hinted at it before, but I’m still not there yet. I’m not ready to talk about it so I’ll keep skirting around it until then. Today I am going to unpack a box and talk about it with you. It’s a box that has been packed and repacked for years, quite possibly about 15+.
This box is big enough to hold multiple little boxes in side of it, as well as a bunch of other little things. Like D-boys first tie he ever wore, or the name tag from my first ever internship at Planned Parenthood. Either way it goes this box has meaning and some value to it.
I am going to focus most of my attention to the small brown box. If you look below you will see a flower, a necklace, earrings, pin, a letter and a piece of paper folded up. The necklace, earrings, flower and pin were from my high school prom. Life was horrible at that time and I was able to find the cheapest dress and accessories to attend prom with a close friend. I was sad that I wasn’t able to do the things I had planned to do, but I was also happy that I was able to go and have fun with friends. Looking back, I am so happy I didn’t clam up and not attend because of the circumstances. It turned out to me an amazingly fun night.
The letter and the folded paper all happened after I completed high school. The folded paper was part of a Indian Native ritual that I was a part of in college. The spark to learn about who I was started there at that event. I am grateful for the experiences I had during that time period. The letter was something I did while I was at a retreat. I had just graduated high school and I was miserable, I hated life and myself. My older ‘sister’ through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program had come to see me graduate and she had given me a gift. I must admit it was weird, but I was open to hearing what she had to say. The gift was the Landmark Forum. Click on the link and it will take you to their website. Basically I called it my wake up call. It was a place where I learned that the things that happen to you don’t always have to be just that. That life is about facts and then you add your stuff onto it, that I could let go of anger and hurt and still make it after that.
It was the most profound experience I had ever had. I spent three days getting to know me and those around me. It was hard, it wasn’t easy or fun, but LORD it was necessary. I was 18 and felt alone… I was 18 and felt that the world sucked and I didn’t need to be in it anymore. I was the youngest person at the forum the weekend I went, I was humbled. I heard the tragic story of a woman that had been married over 40 years learn her husband had been cheating on her and then left her. She had been a homemaker and was just so completely and utterly lost. I cried for her, I grieved with her and I was 18. I sat through a dad tell the story of how he was a horrible father and how he didn’t think he would ever be able to get the love of his children. Some of the stories of what led people to the Forum were so intense and overwhelming, but I knew it was where I was supposed to be at that time and place.
There was one night, maybe the last night there when our assignment was to go back to our hotels and write a letter to someone we had been holding a racket with. Someone we were upset/mad/angry with and either they knew or they didn’t. It didn’t matter, the idea was to write it down and to get what you needed to say out there. It was a way of giving yourself the freedom to remove it from your life and move forward.
I went back to my room thinking I was going to write the letter to my biological mother, but as I sat down to write the page stayed empty. It was empty for some time… And I sat there and cried, I cried because my racket wasn’t with her. It was with my father…
After realizing that, I sat down and started writing. I was exhausted come morning. When I went back to the first morning meeting she asked if everyone had done what she had asked. You could tell it had been done, because there were a lot of somber faces in the room. She then asked if anyone wanted to read their letters aloud. I’m not sure what got into me but I raised my hand and she chose me…
Here is what I said,
I don’t know where to begin. I thought this would be easy for me, but the more I look at the painting the more colors I see. I guess I will just go straight to the point and not dance around it. For the last 16 years I have been having this racket with you. I have been making you wrong for leaving me and not being there for me when I believe I most needed a daddy and not a mommy. And when you left me for good 9 years ago, physically I felt that you were taking the easy way out. You just let some woman take your life and didn’t think how that would affect me. I felt that you didn’t say maybe I should try my hardest to stay alive for my daughter which I see only 3 or 4 times a year and which I know loves and respects me dearly. And I’ve been resenting the way I’ve been feeling because when its your time to go well then thats it. No other exceptions unless God says so. I regret not coming to your funeral but I couldn’t bring myself to the realization that you were gone and that I would never be able to hear you say, How is daddy little girl, not giving your mom any trouble are you? And Hows daddy smart princess your not teasing all the boys are you, you better not be. And when you left a big part of my innocence, concepts and perceptions went along with you. I had this big picture that why would never die and one day you and mom would get back together. I want to say that I give up making you wrong and i commit that I will no longer make you wrong. I offer to you, myself and I ask that toy just watch over me and be there when I get there so i can hug you and say I love you dad for giving me life and I love you dad for taking on the responsibility of being a dad and not just some sperm donor. And I would extend that offer for you to join me in making a new relationship but i can’t exactly you’re not present in a physical form just present inside of me. I can end by saying. You are the #1 dad in the world in my book and I Love you. See you!
Loving you always, your little princess Iiona
I was 18, and this was a big deal for me. When I finished reading my letter I looked up and realized that almost every person in the room had tears running down their eyes. They all told me how much they appreciated my willingness to share and also my willingness to be present throughout the whole weekend. During that time in my life, i made a group of friends who understood what it was to carry around baggage and how great it felt to remove at least one.
I have to say I came back to more classes with that group of people for almost a year, it gave me the courage to move out of state and restart my life where I wanted to be.
Soooo, basically it is easy to have a child. It is even harder to parent that child. So I have to say Thank you dad for being that guy. I still know very little about you, but I do hope to learn more as I get to know my sister. The above picture is the only one I have of my dad, I cried when my sister sent it to me. This is the first time I’ve seen him since I was 9 years old. He looks nothing like I remember but yet he look exactly like I remember.
Anyways, I also want to wish my partner in crime a Happy Father’s Day! He is an amazing dad, he has patience, love, and a will to give his children what he didn’t have. I don’t think we could have picked any better. I am beyond happy that we get to share in this amazing journey together. Happy Father’s Day to all of the men with children, helping to raise children (theirs or someone else’s), or being the role model/mentor to a child/children. You are appreciated and we Love you!