Sunday, June 22, 2008

Shock?

I haven't seen or spoken to my biological father in fourteen years now.

Today, he found me. On Myspace, of all places. A Myspace message stating little more than, "Happy Birthday!"

I'm still not sure what to make of this.

He is not mentally sound. He tried to kidnap me back in 1998. I have spent much of my life in fear of him finding me, and now he has.

He's schizophrenic, a term which used to explain it all away for me-- until I made friends with another schizophrenic. Is the illness not so bad? Or are there varying severities? There must be.

I find myself wondering if I'm missing out on anything by keeping him away, or if it's the wise decision. My mother and I left him in Florida when I was seven years old. I was never given a concrete choice in the matter-- no one sat me down, explained exactly what was going on and asked who I'd rather live with, at least not that I recall, granted 17 year old memories are a bit hazy--but it seemed natural, and smart to follow my mother. My diary entry from around that time reads, "We're moving back to Springfield, my hometown! Maybe I can buy some ice skates and Nikki can teach me how to skate." (Nikki, my cousin, was a figure skater and used to train with Nancy Kerrigan.) Not daddy is hitting me while mommy is at work or daddy drank all of mommy's paycheck-- again although either of those entries would have been factual. Just excitement at leaving. I don't remember missing him, crying, or ever feeling the need to go back.

I saw him once since then, when I was ten. He drove to Boston, and when he showed up at the front door, I locked myself in the bathroom, hysterical. I kept begging my mother to make him go away, but she wouldn't. I eventually had to face him. The rest of the day is a blur, I recall going to the aquarium with him, but I refused to go unless my mother and her then-boyfriend (my stepfather) came along. I stuck to their side for the entire outing, although they kept trying to walk two steps ahead so my father could talk to me. At the end of it all, he gave me a hundred dollars and left. I was, of course, thrilled by the money, and gave him a big wave and smile as the car pulled away.

I remember feeling as if I had been put through torture, and the money was showing that I had paid my dues.

But how would I feel if the shoe was on the other foot? If I fathered a child who was taken away from me so young, who I never really got to know? Am I wrongfully prosecuting a man because of his past failures and shortcomings? There are others in this world who I feel have wronged me far worse, and I'm still forced to pretend I enjoy their company. Am I acting out of instinct or simply fear?

When I was a teenager, I was depressed. (Weren't we all, though?) I underwent extensive psychiatric testing through the public school system, but there were so many gems that were left unearthed. When they mailed the report to my mother and stepfather, the only thing I can remember them saying to me after they read it, disappointed, was, "Do you want to go live with your father?"

The answer was clearly a bold-faced "NO", but now it bothers me that they had even asked.

I'm afraid of what happens next.

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