Updated: Jun 11, 2021
She was running again and she knew it. But she couldn't stop. She had to go through this, through hell, one last time. She had to understand. She wasn’t running from danger this time at least, but into it. Straight into the gaping jaws of that giant beast, the one that had ruled and ruined her life right from the start. Because knowledge is power, and she needed power. She was tired of fighting under armed and underprotected. She jumped into the beast’s waiting maw without a sound.
Back up a bit.
They say that the perfect man for you resembles your dad. But what if your dad was far from perfect? What if your dad was dual, both generous and cruel, both strong and broken, both loving and abusive? What if your dad showed one face to the world and another to you? What if he didn’t know how to be a man, how to be a husband, how to be a dad? Why would you want such a man? And yet.
All her life she had jumped from men who wore one facet of her dad to men who wore another. The lazy ex. The crazy ex. The pervert ex. The cold ex. The ex who cared too much. The ex who didn’t care. It had taken her years to realise, and for a friend to tell her that you always seek a man who resembles your dad.
The thought got stuck in her head.
At first she thought the saying meant physically. In her defense, at the time she was dating a dude of about the same height, complexion, and hair colour as him. But she thought about it, and she learned better. She had dated giants and small men, skinny and obese, black and white. And they all, somehow, showed a face of her dad. He really had many faces.
So now she was trying one last time, with one last face. Perhaps the hardest one of all. It hurt her to think like that but she had to admit it.
This one was closer to the original than any other. Broken. Addicted. Paranoid. Depressed. Self-centered. A money thrower and a sex adorer. One who talks a lot and listens rarely. And yet intelligent. Sweet. Caring. Open minded. With a heart bigger than himself. She didn’t want to fix him, but she knew she had to try. In memory of her dad and what he could have been, of her younger self and what she might still become. For her own peace of mind. And because despite everything this man was his own person, and she was a romantic idiot who had fallen for his sweet, innocent eyes.
She wasn’t afraid. She wouldn't run from him. No matter how loud he yelled or how he forgot some of her few boundaries. She would wait it out. Or go for a walk. She would repeat herself as often as it took. He knew the real limits and what would happen if he crossed them. She let him get close, but never to close. He could learn. He would learn. He had begun already although he didn’t yet realise it.
She wasn’t trying to change him, just like she wouldn’t let him change her. She was trying to help him change what he himself didn’t like. Because unlike her dad, this man was at least a little self aware. He hated his addiction and the fact that he had fallen into it so easily. He acknowledged, when she pointed it out and explained her reasoning, that he also had an alcohol issue. He tried to smoke as few cigarettes as he could. He questioned his own behaviour more than once, when he was sober and sometimes even when he wasn’t. He knew it was wrong.
And unlike her dad, this man wasn’t too proud to ask for help. If anything he was proud of being able to ask for help when he needed it. And he did need it. She battled her social anxiety to go with him to all his appointments. To the doctor’s, the shrink’s, to have his ID card renewed, everywhere. And everytime she told him she was proud, and everytime he smiled. He was proud too, and happy. For a little while. He knew it would take time and effort. She knew it would take many more sleepless nights and foodless days, that her dreams would have to be pushed on the side every now and then, that she couldn’t be his priority. But they were working on something so big and important, they were both willing to make the sacrifices. It was worth it. And that was so unlike her dad that it gave her hope.
Hope had never been allowed in her life. It got crushed mercilessly the few times she had dared. But something about all this felt different. As if she was meant to be there, for both their sakes. It felt right to hope, for once. So she allowed it.
And his shiny smile every time she did something nice for him made it worth it. See, she knew from the start she was going to get burned this time. She had known the very first time their eyes met. But you can’t go through life without injuries. She needed this. She needed to see what would happen. Not what would have happened to her dad, that she would never know. What would happen to this particular man. She had seen his potential. She wanted it to bloom. Sometimes all it takes is the right person at the right time, and for a million reasons she was to be that person, and for no reason at all now was to be the time.
It was painful. Jumping into the gaping maw of a hungry beast is not a pleasure ride. But she welcomed the pain, for this pain carried healing in it. It held knowledge. It held power. In a weird convoluted way, it held life. Her life. She wouldn’t let go.
So here we are. It wasn’t the original plan, but still in a way she had run to him. To learn, to grow, to become more than the shell of a 4 years old whose dad turned out to not be a hero at all. To be the hero. She would save herself, as she had done before. She would live no matter the odds. She would love. And this was the path to it. For the first time in her life she knew the stakes and she embraced them. It was almost time.
Time to stop running.