Meet Ryan, the gifted Wordsmith. He decided it was time to quit the drinking and smoking and dissect his pain. Losing his father to cancer at five-years-old stole a piece of his soul he’s been trying to resurrect his entire life. He awakened to the palpability of grief and the damage it was placing on his life, not once, but twice. Ryan lost his mother to cancer when he was nineteen. Lonely was his constant companion until he met his addictions and found instant connection with darkness. Ryan is a childhood friend of mine, and when he asked for my help I flashed back to the images in my psyche that predicted this day coming to fruition when we lived on the same block. I knew his parents, I loved them, and it was a blessed honor to hold the space for a father and son to heal.
Whether your father was present in your life or not, this letter may resonate. Ryan wrote it to his dad, but maybe it’s for you. That’s what we can do as humans—take our pain and uncover the gifts we are meant to share. Transforming Ryan’s pain into light sheds more light by taking control of the hurt and putting a stop to the generational torment. Healing invisible wounds can get ahold of the addiction and perhaps this epidemic once and for all.
I’m sure my life has haunted you as much as your death has haunted me.
I was born into a world of hurt. Conceived on shaky ground. Abandoned at a very young age to make my own way as a man in this morally confusing place. I hardly knew you. A man concealed by death in the life of a boy who just needed a father. A ghost unheard in a world that is so loud to the ears of a child yet so quiet to the heart and soul. Many years have passed since I’ve felt your presence. Hazy memories of a loving father cloud my true emotions for you. I am angry, I am hurt, I am sad and writing this terrifies me. I don’t want to be angry with you. But, I am finding out that I am.
On the day of your funeral, I looked down into your casket clenching the horseshoe belt buckle that you gave me, trying to will you back to life. Knowing, even then, that I needed a father. Your mustache was gone, your skin was as cold as a winters day and your cheeks were as pink as a morning maritime sky. Holding the hand of death; I said goodbye to a stranger and walked out into the graveyard of my life. I understood what I would inevitably become, far too early. As we drove away, I looked back through the car window. Waving to my past self. In a way; that innocent little boy never got out of that car. Trapped in the hills of San Bernardino.
Repressed anger and fear of loneliness led me to a life of numbing. Playing hide and seek with my emotions in the haunted alleyways of my mind. You never gave me a reason to be caring or compassionate. Traits that dripped from your sickly body as you slowly and painfully dissolved into the earth. Leaving those lessons untaught. “Walk like a man, son” echoed from out of your grave into my teen years and beyond. Full of pride and ego. A social mask covering my eyes, craving control and power. Living up to what I thought those words meant. Over time this developed into unfocused anger then rage. Trying to prove my manliness to a father who wasn’t even there. I cursed the world then internalized these emotions so I could stand in line with the rest of society.
Hardened by your words and without guidance, a healthy love-life has been unattainable. Through years of practicing your mis-read code I seemingly mastered the appearance of true manhood. Preying on the open hearts of the world. Setting their love ablaze and then dumping a cold dose of my reality over their chests, cut wide-open. Smiling on the outside, crying like a little boy on the inside. All I could feel was time passing. Love was in the wind, yet I had no way to catch it. Gobbling up the pleasures of this life without ever tasting it. Without ever understanding and truly appreciating what loving a woman really meant. Because, you never taught me how to love a woman.
Confused by the efficacies of love, intimacy and sexuality it didn’t matter how many women I slept with. I never made a connection with a soul, nor did I have the capacity to. Every night I would share a blanket of skin and bones with these poor women. Trying to keep warm from the cold wilderness inside. Preying on their hearts to survive the madness of life.
Exhausted by the facade I asked the universe for a delicate spirit to coddle me and assure me that sensitivity was not a display of cowardice or weakness. That delicate spirit came to me a couple of years ago. She entered my life with an unprecedented energy. She embraced me, unable to see my faults nor shortcomings. Calming my soul, helping me deal with heartache and sorrow. That empty feeling that I had felt for so long, was slowly disappearing. My chest fought it’s way to the sky, breath by breath. Pushing itself against the stale air around me. Searching for my soul, resuscitating my ailing heart. Illusions shattered as my mind broke free. My eyes rolled back into the depths of my mind and tears began to form. I fell, hopelessly in love, with this woman. Or so I thought.
The time that we spent together allowed me to forget my fears and anger for a short while. Then, things began to decline. I started to wonder who I was and why I still felt so lost. The blocked energies of fear and anger whirled around my stomach and chest, demanding I deal with them, not forget them. I began to lose myself and went into a deep, dark depression. She stood by me for as long as she could take it. I was there, going through the motions, waiting for things to get better. Then the lights went out, my heart shut down. I was gone. And now so is she.
Losing her should have sent me into a dark bar on the broken Boulevard of Los Angeles. Full of booze, women and excess. But, there was something different about this breakup. There was something different about her. Something beautiful. I realized; I truly loved her, unconditionally. My heart opened and my body surged with energy. I felt alive. The lights turned back on. The world around me started to connect. The experiences, the sounds, the colors, the emotions, the energies. I learned that loving someone else against all odds; is our greatest gift. And that love doesn’t have a breaking point, humans do.
I know you had the capacity to teach me these things, Dad. I wish you could have been here to guide me.
I miss you and I love you. As time goes by I may say it less and less but, I mean it more and more.
-Ryan James Carson