Unconditional / by Academy Monthly

Unconditional

People always look at my father and notice him. They notice his towering figure, his infectious laugh, his pure smile, his prominent presence. They remember him. 

People say I take after my father’s personality and “leadership”. They say it like it’s the best compliment that I could receive. And maybe it is. But personally, I don’t really see the resemblance.

My dad has a special sort of charm. Combined with his cunning cleverness, he has a way of appealing to people like I’ve never encountered. They open up like an unwrapped present, spilling secrets and overflowing with issues. His bubbly and effervescent personality make him memorable, as displayed in his constant tenacity to forge connections and maintain them through social media and pure effort. It’s a little intimidating how much he does- golf, squash, deacon, chemist. I really don’t understand how he can balance all that he does. 

On the contrary, here I am, already cracking after only 15 years. My patience is nowhere near the level that his is. My “charm”, if you could even call it that, comes and goes, varying with mood and audience. My presence isn’t awe-inspiring or especially vibrant. 

I emit deep purple- moody, unpredictable, a storm rising on the horizon. My father exudes scarlet- refined, passionate, a picture perfect sunset filled with confidence and grace. People love scarlet. People bathe in scarlet, blind to the fiery nature and chronic strain inside.

They don’t see the man struggling with aches and pains from his unappreciative children. The one who desperately needs a break from his endless roles.  

    How can one appear so strong yet be so fragile?

    Hiding behind this façade is someone I don’t think anyone knows. He appears on occasion, revealing himself in moments of pain. Moments of pure anguish where he says to me, You break me. 

That hurts me more than anything I’ve ever known. 

My heart aches, my eyes water, my hands shake. Guilt overtakes me and the impact of my betrayal is evident in his eyes. I want to crumble, reverse my decisions and pretend everything was normal. I can’t seem to stop myself, hurting him again and again, armed with lies and empty broken promises, until I finally understand the extent of his unconditional love. 

Unconditional love. A word loaded with immense meaning and dedication. A rare, stagnant, unwavering emotion. Something I never believed in until I truly saw my father. A parent’s undying love for their children is one of the many things I can’t comprehend. How can one care for someone more than themselves? 

But this is the case. 

My needs come first, my schedule is unadaptable. His needs come second, his schedule is flexible. My role is to show up and perform. His role is to provide, with unlimited resources, and support with unwavering belief. Shelling out thousands for my numerous camps and activities, the effort going into earning that money flying out of his pocket without a second glance, but thinking twice about buying that expensive shirt for himself is nothing out of the ordinary. An incredible amount of selflessness, and love, always radiates through.

His exterior emanates bold, determined character. Yet his emotions are delicate, dictated by such miniscule decisions and events. My decisions. My events.

 This power is not one I want. Despite my incessant need to control every situation, I am beyond ready to let this one go. The fact that he cares so much about me is terrifying. I am bound to break his heart over and over with my selfish choices, yet he is willing to go through that pain countless times. For his daughter. An impulsive teenager who is lost in her small little world, insignificant in the big picture, but comprises his whole view. 

I should be more wary. My life has a direct impact on his- how he feels, what he decides, how his effort gets put to use. The fact that he allows me, an inexperienced child, to influence his actions as an adult is almost pitying, but in a lyrically beautiful and poetic sort of way.

I hold his pumping heart in my grimy hands.

And that scares me like nothing I’ve encountered.