I haven’t always listened to my emotions. In fact, there was a time I suppressed them.
I grew up in a household of boys, my poor mother and I alone in the chaos of male destruction. But as much as I revere my mother, I was a daddy’s girl. Besides the whole Oedipus complex, I’m starting to understand why. My mom was rational, and my dad, like me, was emotional. But since he was a man’s man, he never showed it except when he became angry. My dad was the type of man to have teary eyes at the end of movies like It’s a Wonderful Life and Armageddon, but only if he was alone.
The first time I saw my dad cry was when I was ten. I followed him into the basement. We had just returned from vacation, and we came home to a dead dog. The Yorkshire Terrier was 12 years old and had gotten his collar stuck in the holes of our picnic table in the backyard and choked himself to death. His name was Tiger, and he had been my dad’s wedding gift to my mom. My mom had wanted to put the dog in a kennel while we went camping, but my dad decided to keep him at home and have a friend come by after work each day and take care of him. When we came home to a funeral (the dog was rather loved among our extended family), my dad felt responsible.
So when I went downstairs and saw Tiger’s motionless body in a cardboard box, I couldn’t make the connection. This wasn’t Tiger. It was just a stuffed animal that looked like Tiger. But when my dad saw the dog, his guilt overcame him, and he started choking on his own sobs. I ran back up the stairs then, terrified. I’d never seen my dad lose it like that, and I vowed I would never do the same. Continue reading