Imperfect Circles

“Just give the insecurity thing a rest” as if one picks such a thing from the shelf; only to dust it off and sit it back in place. I tilt my head, hoping perspective would fix it. I wonder if we ever truly know, just how much of our parents we carry with us.

I was raised by a single mother, long before they had ever signed the papers. I know my mother like the back of my hand- she makes a routine of herself. My father however, I have only ever known through a tainted scope. Head tilted, I see my father- if only for a split second- and I know I have started tracing circles into the weaving of my choices.

I haven’t written for a while, mostly because I would rather post a resolve than a rant. For months I’d hoped the few scribbled sentences I had been carrying around, would give me an insight into what is actually going on with me. I believe, just like many of you reading right now, that I am a collection of cycles. I see myself rounding in and beginning again in a lot of the choices I have made. In the repetition I have found a nostalgia of sorts- with this projection into my past I can’t help but try to navigate the moments and people that have shaped me.

It begins and ends with our fathers, no matter the nature of the relationship. They become the men we model ourselves to be, or the character we try to avoid. They are the type of men we fall in love with, or perhaps we find a love that takes care of us better than our fathers ever did. For a long time I believe I was affected by the mess in which he caused. Quick to anger, hesitant to trust. I see traces of it still. I am ambivalent, I see things in finite phases, I am constantly adjusting.

The home that wrapped its arms around me, was warm- soft to touch and the first to say “I love you”. Dinner time was loud, and Friday night footy was louder- and it mostly included my dad. One person’s fears and shortcomings, cannot boil down to the actions of another individual. I know this.

This scope I seem to measure my dad’s love on is never in his favour. I have fathers, I have fathers ten times the Dad he ever was or could ever hope to be.

My mother is one hundred and fifty percent, from the moment she wakes to the moment we sleep. In anger, or joy, excitement, sheer pride. She is there, with her whole conviction, attention and heart. She taught me to love, to respect, to persevere.

My maternal uncle has taught me that my mind is my biggest tool. To fuel it, train it and speak it. That even as I’m learning, even if he has his own battles- he will be there. My eldest brother, he taught me to keep some things for myself. That the goal was always further than here, the picture always bigger than now. At the time I thought his expectations were unreasonable- but all he ever wanted was for me to work hard, keep my modesty, my dignity and my drive.

I am half of my father, in all it’s undeniable rage. It is unreasonable to say he wasn’t there, when clearly I remember him present. There is a significant difference, however in taking up space physically- and giving weight emotionally.

Growing up I felt, never quite good enough for him. He just couldn’t manage to get to an assembly on time, never really made a fuss of birthdays, seemed too busy to make it to a netball or basketball game. The love he did show didn’t make sense to me, now I look back I know it was there- but it wasn’t enough to make a twelve year old feel safe or wanted or cherished.

On the day I was accepted into university, he sent a “congrats” gif on messenger. This was the first contact made in three years. At the time his attempts fell short, they still do. Seventeen year old me really took it to heart, in hindsight I believe we can only ever exercise a love we are capable of. My mother greeted me at the airport with a bunch of balloons and roses- because that’s the love within her.

I think about him a lot, inadvertently and uncontrollably. I know deep down the circle you trace is a result of all the different kinds of love you receive- and so I watch what I give and receive everyday. I hope I am adequate company, kind enough to my peers, interested enough in my partner. I hope to pay the attention my dad didn’t, in all facets of the things I do.

In this tracing of circles I am short tempered and forthright. I’m not angry anymore, how could I waste such energy while I’m basking in the love I get today. In the bigger deeper, more deserving love I’ve lost. No, I am quick to cut people off- friends, family, partners- because I know what mediocre love feels like, and that is a circle I refuse to begin.

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