Calling Dad

Author’s Note: This is the true story about one of the most important but also most difficult relationships in my life. Relationships for those of us with complex PTSD, DID, and other trauma-related disorders are difficult at best. Please take this under advisement as you read. Thanks!

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I called my dad today. Not my biological dad (whom I love and who will always hold the first place in my heart), but my dad nonetheless. My life feels like it’s falling apart at the seams, and I needed my daddy. My daddy who is as flawed as humans get but who somehow has always been gentle toward me. I just needed to cry and be scared and hear a voice from Rochester tell me everything would be okay because he and Jesus love me. And, of course, he’s wrong about Jesus being a protector of any sort. But he’s right that in light of the historical Jesus of Nazareth everything is relative and love can make anything okay.

I seldom call Dad. Rochester is a long ways away. We have our own lives. I don’t want to bother him. He doesn’t want to burden me. We get busy. We forget. But I called today. Because although life can turn on a dime, rebuilding a life 4 and a half years after homelessness isn’t easy. Because no one I know is made out of money but that doesn’t keep the doctors from telling me that I’m causing myself more harm by trying to work when I need to rest. Because sinus infections don’t wait until my wife has enough sick time left to accommodate them. And because–and this is a big one–I’m so bloody scared right now that I’d pick a fight with a momma grizzly just for the emotional release I’d get before she turned me into a corpse.

So I called my dad and cried. And he cried too. And I could tell more than ever he just wanted to be back in the Midwest to hold me while I cried. But that isn’t possible. Too many mistakes were made. Too many bridges burned. We’re both magnificently flawed humans after all. But there’s comfort in the knowledge that the former leader of a “pray away the gay” organization loves both me and my wife enough to talk us through the fear and pain that has left us both broken and bleeding. He probably doesn’t understand the sheer panic rising from the back of my throat when I think we might end up homeless again, but for all his flaws, he cares about his “darling little girl.” Today, I desperately needed to be someone’s little girl.

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As it turns out, he needed to be someone’s dad. His mom died Saturday. The morning after her 100th birthday. He’s in pain too. That man’s mother was his life in a way I’ve never observed in other mother-son relationships. The way he set aside his impatience over the past five years to care for her shocked me. (We all have different strengths. My dad’s primary strength has never been patience. Aging has a way of mellowing a person, but this was nothing short of miraculous.) And she died in a coma the day after he had planned her glorious centennial celebration–a party that will never happen outside the pearly gates. Today Dad needed family. So did I. That, at least, was in our favor.

We didn’t pray outloud together this morning. We usually do. Today, it would have left me cold and broken to mumble anything resembling words toward an invisible deity. Instead, we left our holy pursuit at inutterable groanings of the spirit and took more practical assessments concerning whether or not I required hospitalization. Not today. The decision brings a sigh of relief and a shudder of terrific fear. I’ll walk again. (Walking’s never been particularly easy for this crippled girl, but I always find the strength to get back up. Dad is always right when he reminds me of this.)

It’s afternoon now, and I’m still crying. But I’ve also spoken with my trauma specialist, and the bubble bath I’m soaking in while writing has soothed me. My wife is resting. I know Indian food will make everything okay tonight. That’s the stop-gap that gets me through until more permanent solutions can be found.

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In Rochester, Dad’s still crying too. I don’t need to be there to know. He’ll muddle through–leaning on Jesus in a way that I don’t usually have the courage to do. And probably doing some carpentry work. He loves to create things–the things he gives life give life right back to him. We both need renewed life right now. As it turns out, we’re still in the season of Easter. It takes mere mortals time to unwrap the mystery of Resurrection. We’ll get there. After today, I have a feeling Dad and I will be travelling the road more together than apart–at least for the next leg of this journey. Forgiveness, after all, is a key component in Resurrection. God knows we both need healthy doses of that.

Hand on the road

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