Half Jack

“I see my father in my face
I hear him in my laughter
I run as fast as I can run but
Jack comes tumbling after.”

My resemblance to my father is actually very unsettling. Not only do I look just like him in the face, but I also have a lot of the same mannerisms, I have the same tone of voice, and it’s even weirder because I mostly grew up without him so I didn’t purposely adopt his mannerisms.

I really hate my father, and I try not to think about him most of the time, but there have been moments when I’m laughing and see my smile in the mirror, and when I smile I look exactly like him. And then my face will fall when I see the resemblance. And I’ll feel him underneath my skin, clawing and trying to get out, like a demon who’s possessed me, but he’s running in my blood and I can’t get him out.

The only thing you can try to do is make peace with it. There can’t be peace between my dad and me, so the best I can do is try not to hate him. It hasn’t worked yet, and I don’t know if hating does more harm than good for me. But sometimes hating him sustains me, and sometimes it hurts. I fantasize all the time about punching him in the face, about him coming up to me one day when I’m successful and I look him in the eye and tell him what a loathsome creature he is.

We’re never big enough to house the crowd. The people who’ve affected us, the good and the bad, live inside of us. Our love for them or our hate for them, both will keep them alive. They hurt us and they leave wounds, or they pierce us with love and they leave wounds, and either way we try and stitch the wounds up, but we let them in and the stitches pull apart.

Jack, or Greg, or whoever it is, he lives inside of us, and haunts us. I look in the mirror and see his face, and I know that I’m capable of the same evil he is, that I inherited his curse, his power, his intellect, his wickedness. I know that I can become the monster he is.

When I was a baby, my father stood over my crib, and he said to my grandmother that when he saw me laying there, so vulnerable and innocent, he wanted to hurt me, the same way his father hurt him. I think it was a brave thing for him to admit. I wish he had been brave enough to keep admitting the things he was afraid of.

When my dad was a young child, his father held him over a cooking grill and lowered his little feet onto the coals and burned them. His father put cigarettes out on his head. Is it any wonder he became a monster? Usually I hate him, usually I’m mad at him.

Sometimes I feel sorry for him.

My Jack was hurt by his Jack, and his Jack was probably hurt too. If I have a child, will I become Jack? Will I break them? Can I be trusted? Can I trust myself?

We carry multitudes. We exist and we exist and we exist.

Some days I’m half Jack, sometimes I’m only a quarter, some days he’s barely noticeable. I want to exorcise him. I want to get him out. But he’s always going to be there. And my body feels like an unclean temple, an unsafe place with no peace or privacy.

I keep hoping I can cleanse him away. I keep hoping the water is clean enough.

If I washed him out, would I still be myself? Is it better to cleanse ourselves of wickedness and lose the wickedness within us, to be empty even if what we’re missing in the darkness? Or do I make peace with it, do I forgive him, do I choose to love him because it’s the hardest thing to do, and it’s the bravest thing to do, and I can be brave where he was not?

I won’t say it to him. But right now, I love you. I’m choosing to love you because it’s the only way I can keep from being destroyed by you, dad. And I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry for what you’ve suffered. I’m sorry that you probably suffer now for what you did to me. I’m sorry that you destroyed me. I’m sorry even though I’m your victim.

Half of me is love, and half of me is hate. Two halves are equal.

I’m halfway home. I hope that home is love and safety. I hope that home is hope. I hope that home is a baby lying in a crib, and a Jack who doesn’t want to hurt him. Like my father, there’s a part of me that wants to consume and destroy everything. It’s the curse he passed down to me. It’s the black hole inside me that wants to absorb and rip apart everything I touch.

I have to be brave. I have to admit it. I can’t be afraid like my father was. I have to admit it so I can overcome it.

Brave enough to get this out. Brave enough to love. It starts with loving you, and then I can love myself because I’m not angry at you anymore. Loving you is not a one-time thing. It’s a journey. It’s a path toward forgiveness. I have not reached the end of that path. I don’t even know if I’m at the beginning. I don’t know if I’m halfway home.

But I hope I’ll get there.

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