The fresh prince and my dad
This is the perfect time to write about this, as of what recently happened. Apparently, Will and I share a few things together. Although we handled it differently.
trigger warning: talks of abuse past this point (in the video and in my own story):
His dad was different then mine, but we both have one event that is engraved in our memory and never will be erased. I have 2 that shaped my relationship with my dad, well into adulthood. I will tell you both of them.
The spaghetti incident
This is how it will always be in my mind. The spaghetti incident. I have rationalized it now and have thought about this many, many times in my life and I get it now. I get that it wasn’t my dad’s fault in how he reacted. That’s what he did, he reacted. Not in the right way, but he can not take it back now, like many things in his life.
My mom and dad were fighting during dinner time. My siblings sat on the opposite side of the table, I sat left side of my mom. Dad was at the head of the table. Mom was serving spaghetti. We had that pot until I was thrown out. My dad wanted to start a business and had bought supplies for it, with his own money. We didn’t have any money issues at that point, as he earned good money and he used an extra he had for what he bought. My mom got furious. She refused to serve him food that evening. I wanted to talk sense into him and he said words that were etched in my mind. “zwijgt gij, snotneus” (silence, you snot-nosed little bastard). He wrestled my mom for the pot and swung at her. My mom started to back away from the table. He took the pot and swung at her. My siblings, both older than me, were frozen at the table. I got into fight or flight mode. My dad started chasing my mom, and because at that time he was taller than me, I started to assess the situation. I had to stop him or it would end bad. I was 5-6 at the time. He had to pass a couch to follow my mom, so I jumped on the couch and the moment he passed I hung around his neck. Giving my mom ample time to get away and gave him time to calm down. He never hit me. He never got angry. He set me down and that’s when the memory stops. I don’t know a thing past this point, the only thing I do know, is that he never hit my mom with that pot. I don’t think I even finished the meal that night. My siblings never moved from their seat to comfort me or anything.
I didn’t know any better and filed this one away, until years later. During the divorce, my dad didn’t pick me up at certain weekends. Now I have an idea why, and I will tell you why, after the second story and what it has to do with Will Smith.
As I said, My dad didn’t pick me up at certain weekends. My mom forced me to phone him. He either would pick up and had to listen to his heartbroken son, asking him in his childhood voice “why didn’t you pick me up?” and either I would get an answer or I didn’t. He would hang up. (Now I know how hard it must have been for him, hearing me ask that question. I can imagine, as we are so alike, what it must have done to him. My mom played her cards right in the way that I started to hate my dad. I didn’t know that she was playing high stakes poker with my relationship between my dad and I, she didn’t win, but I lost badly). I resented to have to phone him and would argue with my mom for hours on end. I still hate making phonecalls up until today, although I got better at it. As an autistic making phonecalls is hard as it is, but as an autistic with this kind of trauma, it’s a miracle that I even make phonecalls at all.)
Tweety (and how I knew my dad loved me, in his own way)
I saw my dad’s van at my aunt’s place. He hadn’t picked me up for a while now and I missed him dearly, as a child does. I asked my mom to stop at my aunts so I could ask my dad why he didn’t pick me up. I don’t remember any more if I gave him the tweety drawing I did then and there or that we mailed it to him, but it had the message: “why don’t you pick me up?” on it. I loved Tweety at that time, as it was an innocent yet fierce little bird. I loved the looney tunes cartoons. Little 7-8 year old me got out of the car, and saw my dad sitting with his siblings at a table outside in the sunshine. I went up to him. I still know how I felt. Looking at his back. I was shaking, not visibly but inside. My aunt said that I was behind him. No reaction. I tapped his back a couple of times. No reaction. I tapped his back again. (this is the hardest part, as I am still crying while typing this, little me is still hurting inside). He turned around and snapped at me “what?!” Little me became smaller at that time. “Why don’t you pick me up in the weekends?” and then came the line that is edged in my brain. “Do you know how it feels for me?” He was angry. Didn’t offer a hug. Didn’t pick me up and held me. Nothing. This is what broke my relationship between me and my dad and never really healed, although I sometimes say it has. (My relationship with my dad is like a Japanese vase with gold in the cracks. The vase is restored somewhat, but you can still see the cracks. Pieces are missing, the vase will never be complete again, but some things have a gold lining now.) I returned to my mother’s car, head bowed. Crying. Asking myself why? What did I do wrong? I didn’t understand how it must feel for him, but didn’t he know it hurt me too? Did he really love me? I never have been rejected like that in my life, and I have professed my love to a lot of people and have been rejected a lot, but not like that.
I grew up, as people tend to do. My mom and dad remarried (yes, I was as surprised as you are, at age 12. They redivorced at my 18th year of life).
What does Will Smith have to do with all this? This particular scene:
This one. That’s the one. I remember watching that as a kid, crying about it. I knew how Will felt. I knew it. In a weird way, I felt that hug by Uncle Phil as well. It told me that my feelings towards my dad were valid. I was justified to feel that way. I resented my dad. I resented him until a few years ago up until a few years before he died, that’s when I found out he loved me, in a weird autistic way.
Snooping in my dad’s desk was not done. Ever. He would get angry if he caught you. I visited my dad with my ex-gf a few years before he died. The day I saw my dad for who he really was, what kind of dad he could have been. He showed me everything. His painting, his parrot, he showed me his computer and everything. Then he showed me the things, the mementos he kept of me. When I came to visit, I was losing baby teeth, and every time, I lost one, he told me to put it under my pillow (tooth fairty stuff), but he kept them. He had collected them in his drawer, as a memento. All these years. He never told me about them, but he kept them. He showed me something else too, and I couldn’t show him at the time, as I was keeping strong, but I broke right outside his window (as I am crying right now as well). He showed me the tweety drawing. He kept it all these years (15+ years). He never threw it out, like my mom had done with my drawings of kindergarten. Thanks to my mom I have no mementos of my childhood anymore, but my dad had kept that drawing. (my sister threw it out when she stripped his apartment for her own gain), but that is the moment I knew he loved me and showed me.
Will has one thing over me though. He got to talk with his dad. I NEVER had an adult conversation with my dad, as the moment I had the chance, he was no longer capable to be talked with. He wouldn’t remember. So I never did. He showed me he loved me in those few moments we had. Moments I will never forget.
The man I resented. The man I always said that I would never visit on the day he died. That man showed me he loved me. It will never erase what little me had to go through, but it showed that even in his flawed thinking, he still loved me. Life must have been hard for my dad, an undiagnosed autistic. Once I knew how it must have felt for him, through circumstances I got myself, I stopped resenting him. I started sympathizing. That is why, the moment he was on his deathbed, I was with him most of the time. That is why, when he wasn’t allowed to eat, I didn’t eat either when he was awake. I didn’t want him to suffer, as he had done most of his life that I knew him.
The moment I got the phonecall that he had passed, was the moment I said to my then gf “He is done fighting.” I put my head back down on the pillow and slept the best sleep in years.
Yes, writing this down and thinking about it still hurts. Watching that scene in the fresh prince still hurts, as it brings back those memories. That will never pass away. It might get easier with time, but it never goes away completely.
What has this to do with Will? Everything. Trauma never goes away. It gets easier to handle, but it never goes away. When I see a girl being abused on the street, I stop and help. I can’t help it. It’s a part of me, that little guy that still sees his mother be abused and he has to help. That’s also what must have triggered Will to react the way he did during the Oscars. Was it right? In my opinion, yes. Will was triggered by what happened before between Rock and Jada and his trauma was triggered between his mom and him. That’s why he laughed first and then was triggered. That’s why he was crying during his acceptance. He apologized a couple of times. Rock never did. That is the difference. Abusers never apologize. My mom never did and she knew where to push my buttons.
I resented my dad for years, until when I knew he wasn’t the dad I used to know any more. Not that fierce little general around who everybody walked on eggshells, but he loved us. He showed he loved us. In his own way. My mom just manipulated everybody in hating him. Gave my sister the perfect circumstances to manipulate my dad, so he died sooner than he actually had to.
PS: I think this was one of the hardest blogposts to write. I cried a lot, but it had to be written. I told you about my trauma, so you might get why Will reacted the way he did. He doesn’t need my support and probably will never know I wrote this or even read it, but I don’t care really.
Every post is written first in scrivener 3, which you can get a 30 day free trial of here at literature and latte.