A Father’s Shadow: Happy Father’s Day

OB00506I have a complicated relationship with my father – that said, it’s weird around Father’s day. You see I didn’t get him anything – I know how terrible of me. But let me explain:

To start off, growing up he was out of the house at least 16 hours a day. Let’s just say that the only time I got to see him was in the morning, and at night. Same for weekends.

He was always “busy”; even though he only worked 20 minutes away. Our family was always “apart” or “complicated” – even though those words don’t do it justice at all.

I later grew to despise him actually – still do in some respects – mainly he just wasn’t there; emotionally and physically. Like most Asian fathers – he was quiet, introverted, critical, overbearing, complacent with family matters, and avoided trouble at all costs.

Which in my family, meant that he avoided them all together! He’d often bury himself in work as a means to cope with stress – though honestly his “work” in insurance grants did little to satisfy him.

Whenever there was even a slight argument he’d yell a little, then drive off and not come back for hours on end. This of course left us kids at the mercy of whoever he was arguing with (mom most of the time).

I always resented him for not standing up – to his wife (my mom) or to anyone for that matter! He was (and still is) very critical and overbearing of those who he perceives as “less than him”. I suppose this was his way of exercising his “power”. This contrasted immensely when he was around people who were in positions of power,  physically bigger than him, or were “better” than him (cops, handymen, engineers, etc.). Here, he was timid, yielding, typical beta male stuff.

There’s a lot more to this story and I don’t feel like sharing all the gritty details here – at least not yet. However in the past few years I’ve come to realize perhaps there are lesson(s) in my father’s actions – or inactions.

My Sensei told me a very important piece of personal advice a few months ago:

You honor your parents by honoring yourself

Now, I’m still in his presence most of the time – which is weird. However, I’ve realized that if I were to do nothing in my life, I’d turn in the sort of “man” that he is. I’ve noticed I’ve become him in many ways – much to my dismay at all of the failed friendships that I’ve had.

With that said, I’m just hella angry with myself. With him yes, but more with myself; just the fact that I’ve become him.

It pains me that if I were to change, it’d take me longer than just a month. However I suppose I need to start somewhere, eh? I’ve come up with a short list of [informal] goals that I’ve stashed away in my mind – hoping that one day I will be able to fulfill them.

  1. I will pursue my professional and personal dreams, regardless of what others (or he) might say to distract/criticize my goals.
  2. I will respect myself and honor myself (without committing felonies or such). In such, I will be honoring those in my life.
  3. I will marry the right woman, for the right reasons.
  4. I will be there emotionally and physically for this family – which include my wife and child(ren).
  5. I will teach my kids the value of respect; respect of the wisdom of your elders and most importantly, the respect of themselves.
  6. I will be a husband for my wife.
  7. I will be “the man” in the relationship; taking responsibility for my actions and inactions.
  8. I will face crisis head on, not cower in the face of anything “uncomfortable”.
  9. I will be there for my children – because they need a role model for a father and they need to see what a “true man” does in situations that require his response.
  10. Even in the marriage(s) don’t materialize, I will take care of my share of responsibilities
  11. I will learn and grow from my mistakes.
  12. I will not criticize anyone’s way of those things unless I have the guts to do it myself (or I have experienced “it” myself).
  13. I will speak my mind – even when it comes to something delicate, I will voice my opinion even when it comes at the cost of someone “not liking me”.
  14. I will not stay in a lifeless soulless marriage for the sake of being in one (goes back to #1 and #2).

This is just a short list. I highly doubt that my dad will agree with some of the choices that I will be making in the next few years, however, I believe that I will going after the life that I had long avoided and put off.

With that said, Happy Father’s Day.

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