Last night I had a dream, about my father. I've only once dreamed and actually been able to see my dad. I'd dream, but not see or remember. Whether I saw him or not, I'd wake up crying out in the past, and often I'd wake up crying.
This time I saw him, I saw what he did. I watched him make jokey references to games that we would play, he did this in front of other people, so they wouldn't know what was going on. The kid knew, I knew, what he meant, but I couldn't tell. It was horrible and I was resigned to it, I hated it. He promised that I would never stop him, that no one would ever believe me, and that I didn't matter anyway.
When I understood last night that he really did teach me these things, that it wasn't that I deserved nothing but it was that he gave me nothing and told me I deserved less; I recognized my dad's lie and I felt inside like it was over, my dad can't come back. By seeing him, by understanding, I was calling him out.
I am fifty-two and tonight my paintings are being shown for the first time ever, in a show that I organized. I stepped out, big time. To do this, I wasn't selfish (like my dad) instead I worked with a group of people, I made a community. I'm a nice person and I help other people, I love them. That I can do this, that I love others and help them, makes me different to my dad. He used me, and probably other kids, and he had no friends.
My dad can't come back. The little kid inside me is cheering and is proud. I am walking away now from those fears and beliefs about myself.
Thank you, guys, for being here and - whether you know it or not - for helping to me find a way out of my dreams, my nightmares.
Oh my, it's good.