I’m pretty sure that my stubbornness has a lot to do with proving my father wrong.
Growing up, he expected perfection. As I was born with an imperfection, I ws never worthy of love in his eyes. It took me a few years to realize this, to come to the conclusion that perhaps he was never capable of love; but at the time, I wanted to prove him wrong, to show him that I was perfect, that I was worthy.
Pain was a constant back that as I hadn’t learnt a lot of ways to deal with it. I wasn’t allowed to take aspirin or Tylenol, I wasn’t allowed to do my exercises. I had only begun to write little stories, nothing that I could escape into. And my art was a far cry into the future.
So pain became an intimate friend.
When I would walk with my feet turning in, he could kick them, nudge them, telling me to stop walking like a damn cripple, how could he be a proud man with a cripple for a son?
I would respond by saying something along the lines of: “How can I be proud of a father who hates me?” I would usually be reprimanded for this.
In school, hoping to win his favour, I would run in the marathons, running circle after circle around a track, hoping to prove how strong I was. I would run these marathons knowing that, by the end of it, I wouldn’t be able to walk very fast, my Elephant Legs puffing up, muscles knotting.
I would join in the physical fitness programs, you know the kind. Where you would be tested on how far you could run, how far you could jump, how far you could climb. Exercise after exercise of torture and all you would win for your effort was a badge of a different colour: A gold bade, a silver badge, a bronze badge.
If you were horrible, as I was, you would get a card congratulating you on participating. Bastards.
But still I participated, in hopes of winning my fathers love. In the end, he would just drop my participation card and ask me why I didn’t win a badge like my brother did? He would inform me that it was because they didn’t give badges to cripples.
It was then that I resolved not to be a cripple. I wouldn’t be a victim, I wouldn’t be someone who was downtrodden. I would be me, my own person. I’m pretty sure that, all those years ago, that moment was where I finally started to come into my own.
Indirectly, my father gave me the greatest gift I could have ever received.
He showed me how not to be like him.