I realized something today.
My dad never took me swimming.
He never taught me how to swing a baseball bat.
He didn't teach me how to work with tools.
Instead, he taught me how to throw cards in a hat.
He taught me how to box.
He taught me how to drink.
My dad was emotionally distant most of the time.
I never knew when he would turn on me.
I didn't blame him for it.
I never wanted to cross him.
He could be a brutal man, sometimes.
Anyway, things were always alright if I obeyed him.
On my thirteenth birthday,
I hoped for an electric racecar kit.
I dropped hints to my dad for weeks.
On my special day, he came home late and drunk.
He happily handed me a crumpled, brown grocery bag.
It was filled with party hats, whistles, and other tavern crap.
It all was very fitting for a New Year's Eve party.
"Happy Birthday, son", he rasped to me with his whiskey voice.
I forced a smile.
I didn't want to hurt his feelings.
Then, I watched him as he staggered off to bed.
Children of alcoholics grow up fast.
We need quick wits to survive.
Most of us conceal our pain.
I hid my horrific family secrets.
I replaced my frowns with false smiles.
I viewed the world as an extension of my dysfunctional family.
There was no safe haven for me, except in my room.
My whole world was there.
I was king in my room.
I spun golden threads for the fabric of my future dreams.
I ached for them to become realities.
I threw cards in a hat.
I threw punches straight and with force.
I carried all the damages with me.
They lived in my gut.
Like a crumpled brown bag, I was filled with tavern filth.
It finally burst open.
All the lies fell on the floor.
Now I saw myself, and I saw the world.
I accepted my reality.
Finally, with relief,
I became me.