Image credit: Andri Roxistar

My childhood can be described by a litany of songs and broken records. Which ones? Since I can’t play any music through this medium, I ask you to listen carefully with your eyes as you read this.

I have been told music you identify with as a teenager tends to remain with you for the rest of your life. Growing up my musical tastes varied and the only explanation was I wasn’t afraid to listen to what made me feel good regardless if it was considered to be cool.

I could take you on a musical roller coaster from classical to rap to bluegrass to metal. My high points and where I found solace in were bands like Disturbed, Machine Head, Staind, Korn, Cold, Papa Roach, Deftones, etc.

Anyone familiar with the aforementioned bands may see probable cause in being weirdly inquisitive about what I’m going to say next. The names alone do not elicit pleasant memories, do they? Neither do some of their album and song titles: Down With the Sickness, “Message in a Bottle,” Break the Cycle, “Blind,” “No One,” “Broken Home,” “Change.”

<Enter my imperfect world ←stage right>

I saw a film at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival titled, In A Perfect World. I was hesitant about seeing it as I knew the feelings and emotions it would conjure in me.

Before this gets too dark, and you think this is a plot to a Criminal Minds or Law & Order episode, let me clarify some things. My mom wasn’t in an abusive relationship, I wasn’t molested, and I didn’t end up seeking psychiatric help.

Daphne McWilliams directed a documentary exposing issues men deal with when their fathers are not present. Like many of the subjects in the film, the results of an absentee father varies.

My major struggle with it has been abandonment, which developed this chip on my shoulder of never being good enough. It fuels my drive to push myself. I’m not thankful for it, by any means, however, it birthed a beast in me.

<Exit perfection →stage left>

I finally accepted that I take on whatever intrigues me to the point of burnout. Then, I reflect and regroup. If I chose to take on the challenge again, I’ll use the first time as a baseline to measure. If you knew the types of things I documented, it may be scary. My life is like a constant A/B test.

I was lucky to eventually have a father figure (stepdad) during a pivotal time. He salvaged and became a beacon of hope for me. Nothing can replace simple things like teaching a kid that’s afraid of a baseball how to be brave. I went from being utterly terrified of the ball as an outfielder to being in the line of fire as a catcher. The irony of this is my father was a baseball standout in high school.

My stepdad taught me a lot and I should be more grateful for what he did. I should have been more appreciative of what my mother endured. Instead of holding on to those that loved and cared for me, I pushed them away. I ousted myself and took pride in it. I blame it on the music and my father not being around. No, it was all me. I’m the culprit. I have to make amends for my stubbornness.

Real Eyes Realize Real Lies

As for my father, he did become part of my life, in some fashion, when I got older. Our relationship has many flaws. I would like to believe that I forgave him for leaving me to fend for myself, but I would probably be lying if I did. In a perfect world, I would.

People make mistakes and should be forgiven. It doesn’t mean it’s easy or that I will offer up forgiveness. When people are wrongfully accused and have to serve years in jail later to be told it was a mistake, I don’t know how they do it. Those years will never be returned and the proverbial “my bad” isn’t good enough. I wasn’t in jail, but “my bad” will not fly with me either.

Nothing can be done about the past. We should forgive and take advantage of the future, right? I’ve wronged people and they have the right to be upset and mad. That’s their prerogative. If they can forgive me, surely I can do the same.

I won’t make any promises, but I will work on it. Someone has to break the cycle because no one asked for a broken home. No need to be blinded or forced to be down with the sickness. You can change if you want to. This is my message in a bottle that I’ve placed in the sea of the Internet.