It was sitting on the porch when I came home after picking the kids up from school. A rectangle box wrapped in brown paper. A blue envelope with only my name written on it is tied to the package with twine. Now here it is, in my office, staring back at me from my marble painted desk. Sitting in my chair, I can’t tear my eyes from it. Legs crossed, I lean forward with my elbow on my knee and chin on my fist.
My first reaction was to kick it off the porch. When I first laid eyes on it my jaw clenched. The muscles in my arms tensed and my palms itched with heat. If it wasn’t for my children waiting for me to unlock the door, I might’ve lost it.
Even if I didn’t recognize the handwriting, the brown paper and twine tells me who it’s from. Wrapping gifts in brown paper and twine is his signature. But why? What does he want? I mean it’s been a year. He hasn’t spoken to me in a year.
Growing up, my dad was my hero. He could do no wrong in my eyes. I never wanted to disappoint him. I made it my mission to always make sure he was proud of me. I didn’t know it then, but I grew up with no identity of my own. I tried to be what my dad thought I should be. I walked the path he thought made sense for me. I thought I was happy. I mean my dad couldn’t be more proud of me and that was all I ever wanted.
The thing is, when you walk a path that is laid out for you by someone else, things don’t usually work out. I have degrees on my wall that I don’t use. I don’t feel anything when I look at them. Empty. I am completely empty. They hold no value for me. But they made him proud. That’s all I cared about.
It wasn’t until I decided to find myself, that I learned any of this. I had become a hollow shell of a woman. I lost myself in being a stay at home mom. My husband and I were in debt, and struggling. I forgot that Mom and Wife weren’t the names I was born with. I slowly started picking up hobbies. I needed to know what it was I truly wanted. That’s when I found my love of writing.
Healing myself was a long and painful journey. Hell, it still is! But I will never go back to living up to someone else’s expectations. It is time to live for me. In realizing that, I learned a lot about myself. I am not a religious person. I am pansexual. And I am polyamorous. I have a girlfriend and my husband accepts this. Embracing these things about myself and learning to live in my truth is freeing. I truly love who I am now.
I thought my dad would too. I knew he would disagree with my lifestyle, but I thought he would see how truly happy I am. I never thought he would stop talking to me. Especially with me finding success in freelance writing. I helped get my family out of debt. I thought he would be proud.
I guess to him I turned my back on everything he stands for. I think he feels as though I am spitting on his values. He forgets that he taught me to be my own person. Maybe I leaned on him too much growing up. Maybe I made him too much of my hero.
He didn’t stop talking to me right away. When I would take the kids to visit, he wouldn’t come out of the basement to greet me like he used to. When he did crawl out of his man cave he barely looked at me. When I spoke to him, he would nod and go about whatever he was doing, then retreat into hiding again. I don’t even go in the house anymore when I drop the kids off. The atmosphere is just off. I can feel how uncomfortable it is for him to have me around.
What could this package be? Is he trying to make amends? My head is dizzy with emotions. I won’t get any answers if I don’t open it. I grab the end of the twin with my fingers and pull. As it unravels my heart rate quickens. Beads of sweat form under my nose. I open the envelope with clammy hands. It’s a birthday card. A cake with a whole bunch of candles decorates the cover. The inside is blank except for the words “Happy Birthday” in my dad’s hand.
My muscles tense again.The card falls from my hand. I rip off the brown paper with ferocity. It’s a white box filled with six gourmet cupcakes. My nostrils flare at the sight of them. My birthday was a few weeks ago. He sends a late birthday card that he clearly put no effort in. He usually picks out a funny card, then adds his own message to it. But he couldn’t be bothered to do that. He couldn’t even write “I’m sorry”. He didn’t even bring this to me directly. He clearly dropped it off himself.
He cut me off for a year. A year! And what? He thinks he can just wash that away with a few cupcakes and a lousy card? My blood is boiling. My skin is burning. I want to throw each cupcake at the wall.
I slow my breathing, focusing on each breath. Once calm, I grab the box of cupcakes and take them downstairs. I let the kids have them. That can be their dinner. I go back upstairs with a heavy emptiness. I close my door, crawl into bed, and let the tears stain my pillow.