I am my Father’s Son | Mike Gardipee

the flame

Resentment and revenge have consumed my life since I was young. 

Although it blows my mind to say it now, I loved to hate back then. It somehow gave me comfort. Revenge offered me protection and defense by isolating and separating me from others. Resentment and revenge are like an eclipse, blocking out the sunlight — but there can be safety in the dark.

I wanted meaningful relationships in my life, but I was wounded and scared. I know that love brings true peace and hate bruises it, but after my mother’s suicide when I was seven,  it was easier for me to hate than to take the risk to love.

My mother’s suicide left me with overwhelming pain. I learned to manage this pain by protecting myself with solid chains of anger and hate. I resented others for what they had and I didn’t have (see my post “All In or Nothing.“). As my heart darkened into an eclipse of resentment of others, my self-hatred grew.

At the root of my hatred and resentment, was a hot rage for my father for the physical and verbal abuse that drove my mother to her death. Every act of violence I’ve ever committed goes back to wanting revenge on my father.

As my fighting ability grew so did my desire to hurt my father. I longed for the day that I would be able to get my hands around his neck. More than anything, I wanted to physically and mentally break him like he broke our family. My hatred of my father and my fantasy of hurting him consumed every ounce of my being, even as I longed for a father-son relationship

More than 20 years after my mother’s death, I found my father and planned to get my revenge.

We were drinking to celebrate our reunion — at least that’s why he was drinking. With years of my hatred ready to be released, all I could think about was hurting him and finally being free from my emotional and mental anguish.

Before the end of the night, I had my hands around his throat, squeezing the life out of him.

As I looked into his bulging eyes, I was shot through with guilt that penetrated my heart. I let him go feeling even worse than before. I looked in the bathroom mirror into the eyes of a monster, an ugly and wicked man. In a fit of anger, I shattered the mirror with my fist and fell to the ground in uncontrollable tears.

Catching his breath, my father said, “Next time I will fight back and my hands will be around your neck.” In that split second, the guilt was replaced with my comfort zone of hatred again. I shook my head and said, as if it was a point of pride, “You will never beat me. I am stronger and meaner than you ever thought of being.”

I walked away in a rage. I was Mike Fucking Gardipee and I was back in furious pursuit of revenge. I vowed that he would wish he was dead when I was done with him. I knew my heart had been eclipsed in the devil’s playground but it was a familiar place to play.

As I was preparing my dope for sale later that night, I schemed about how I could break my father to the core. The answer was right in front of me: get my father strung out on methamphetamine and then control him like a puppet on strings. It was the perfect plan that had him running in circles. He would come to me for his fix, I’d give him a syringe full of pure dope, and watch him bounce off the walls. Every second, I hoped that his heart would explode.

All my pain and fear had corroded my heart into an evil, monstrous darkness. Somehow, I thought revenge would free me but it only drove me deeper into the dark.

When I got into treatment, a wise and kind woman shared this quote,

“Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”

This truth smacked me in the face and opened my eyes. I was killing myself with hatred, thinking that my father’s death would release all my pain.

I asked God to give me the strength and courage to forgive my father. I asked Him to take the hate from my heart and fill it with love. He answered my prayer, but not in the way I thought He would.

My heart began to shift when I started to understand why and how I became a violent, hate-filled monster.

I saw that I was not born evil. The pain of the loss of my mother left me afraid to love. My traumatic childhood experiences perhaps destined me for a life of addiction and abuse, but I also chose the path I took. While I recognize the challenge of my childhood, I also take responsibility for my life.

My children have somehow been able to forgive me for my abandonment and meanness. If they can do that for me, I can do the same for my father. I don’t know how or why my father became the man he is, and it doesn’t really matter. I know now that peace only comes with understanding, forgiveness, and responsibility.

I can’t change the past but I will not allow my past choices to dictate who I am today. I want to live my life with love and build healthy loving relationships. With God’s help, I can now look at myself in the mirror without hatred but with forgiveness. 

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