When I was a teenager me and my dad had a lot of turbulence in our relationship. Part of it was I had an insecure step mom who made it so I only saw him once a year. Part of it was him. He grew up in a very abusive home and I feel like he just didn’t know how to talk to a kid. When you are taught to let your fists do the talking at a young age. You lack essential communication that a teenager needs. Part of it was me. I wasn’t mature enough to handle certain situations accordingly so I lashed out.
He left when I was ten. I saw him once every few months. Something inside my step mom made her feel as if I judged her for breaking up my parents marriage. If I have to be honest, I was glad he left. My dad was always trying to make people laugh and be cheerful. But behind closed doors it got dark sometimes. He had a temper and since I could remember he would tell me these stories of his mom being raped and beaten or him and his siblings being abused. Most of which was afflicted from his step dad.
My dad got into drugs when I was a baby. He did meth and cocaine. When I was three he got off the drugs to save his marriage along with wanting to be a good role model for his son. (I’m incredibly proud he choose us over his vices.) I wrote about addiction before I’m not going to get into my problem with the bottle again. The reason I’m proud is because it takes a strong person to tackle their problems in life with a clear mind.
When my dad was younger he was bullied quite often for being small. He moved to Arizona only to find the city life even more grueling. He took boxing and kickboxing classes for self defense, and blow off some steam. I read and watched Shonen Jump manga and martial arts movies. “You can’t beat Jet Li. He’s too fast.” I told my dad. He brushed it off like it was nothing. “Fast? I’ll show you fast. Let’s race.” Me and my friend lined up outside. “Ready… set… Go!” I blinked and he was at the finish line. By the time we started running he was already walking back to the house. I don’t think we bothered finishing the race. My dad proved his point. He was strong, worked hard. When I was a little boy he was like a superhero. He still can’t beat Jet Li in a fight though!
So it’s been a roller coaster of a relationship. As he went through his second childhood and I matured in my own way. We both came to a mutual respect for one another. One day we went to see the movie southpaw. There was a line, “You have to let her be mad at you.” My dad turned his head toward me and nodded. As if to say I understand your temperament. It made me uncomfortable because it felt like he could see right through me. I stupidly thought as a teenager that no one understood. In that moment I was wrong. After all he’s been through, surely if there was anyone on this planet that would understand coming to peace with a dysfunctional relationship it would be him.
As the movie continues Billy wins the fight at the end, and also wins custody of his daughter. It felt like a parallel between me and my dad’s relationship. An uneducated boxer who comes from a troubled past that rebuilds himself to become a good role model for their child.
I teared up a few times during the movie. I put my index finger by my eye and leaned on the arm rest. It looked like I was deep in thought or I was trying to physically push the tear back into my eye. Real men don’t cry… says society. I looked at my dad and he was tearing up as well. Not even hiding it. It shocked me a man’s man, my superhero, an alpha male crying? “It just means you’ve got a big heart,” was his answer as we walked out of the movie theater.
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