1. A short story.
2. A love letter.
3. An apology.
1. A short story.
Most daughters believe that their relationship with their fathers is special and I am no exception to this rule. Knowledge, stability, laughter and tears have all come from the man, I measure all others too – My Dad.
Though he was absent for a great deal of time during my childhood with the forces overseas (as a Royal Navy Diver) – he had a profound effect on me, complex and amazing; he reads trashy thrillers, the classics and unfortunately Jeffrey Archer – let’s not hold that against him. He does Tai-Chi. He likes wild flowers and geology. He transferred to me his curiosity and knows stuff about everything in that God-like way that dad’s do. He also gave me a nuclear grade sarcasm gene.
The Island off the coast of southern England where I grew up was surrounded by shipwrecks. Dads’ passion for being underwater extended past his job and when home he was often out leading a dive enthusiast group.
For anyone who has dived you will already know that the Holy Grail is finding the Ships Bell as these are one of the first items that get recovered on any discovery of a new wreck. Sitting on Priory Bay waiting for the little diving party to return from the “Wheat sheaf”, I was lucky enough to witness my dad emerging from the water triumphant. Made even more unusual because the wreck had been regularly dived for over seventy years.
I wrote a short story about this dive and how the ship ended up a wreck in the first place – looking back I think the theme was about moments of time and physical objects waiting for discovery by the right person. I gave it to my Dad in a self-conscious thirteen year old way.
“S.J, I was there when the boat got wrecked, I stood on the prow. This is excellent.”
Now, all (good) fathers are encouraging and supportive but I mentioned the nuclear grade sarcasm, right? I have never received anything but constructive feedback from my Dad; I can always do better, try harder and learn more. It is also the only time except for when my grandparents died I have ever seen him cry.
This validated that there is something in my writing that can move people and every time, my bitch of an inner critic goes off. I think about this short and the impact it had and as a complete narcissist – the way it made me feel to move someone I love.
2. A Love letter
When I was dating my husband there was a lot of stuff going on; it was an extremely complicated time. We came to a point as some relationships do; where it was either “Give it All” or “Give it Up”. Convinced that I was worthless and undeserving of being loved, I put him through hell. Every time he tried to love me and support me, I would rail against it. Alone is better, alone is safe and secure.
But, I took a risk and wrote him a letter explaining why I loved him. He still has it and he also cried. Now, I don’t want you thinking that I get a sick pleasure from making people miserable but I’ve always thought that tears are more honest than words, when it comes to emotions. You can’t switch them on and off. They show not tell.
3. An Apology
I penned a letter that apologized for all the messed up and stupid things I had done during the time when I wasn’t quite myself. This lasted from eighteen to my late twenties. I put my family through pain and fear. There are no excuses that can take away the sheer wilful stupidity of some of the things that I did.
Let’s call them the dark years.
I spent a night sleeping in a graveyard with all of my earthly possessions in bin liners – that can probably show you better than I can tell you.
It was important to me that I said “Sorry” and meant it. That letter started my family’s (and my) healing process and a week after I sent it via post (it was a proper letter). – I got a call from my Mum,
“We are just glad we got our S.J back.” – And there was some crying. (Again…)
So, Reader – those are the three things I have written that have changed my life.
Is there anything you have ever written or said that with that most glorious of all educating tools “hindsight” has been pivotal for you?
Go on, share, I dare you!