Living in a haze

by Elouise

Living in a haze
of trance-like ghosts
we move through life
reenacting scenes
from childhood
played by ear
with great skill
and small vision

I’ve been thinking about my father, and the strangle-hold of symbolic behaviors I adopted in order to survive with my will intact.

My father lived in a haze of his own trance-like ghosts and scripts. A small world in which he was determined to survive my grandfather’s brutality.

Almost invisible and automatic, his ghosts and scripts drove him to replay the roll he learned by heart as a child. He hoped to keep himself safe, and demonstrate his superiority without disrespecting his father.

When he was in his 80s, Dad shared with me a recurrent dream. It troubled him greatly. So much that he sometimes began crying as he talked about it. The dream returned from time to time right up to his death at age 96.

In the dream, he’s in a physical fight with his father. Fighting for his life. No one else is in the room. It seems they’re in a barn. Both my grandfather and my father were tall, strong men shaped by years of hard physical labor on family farms.

Eventually, Dad wrestles his father to the floor, wins the match, and wakes up, caught in a nightmare of guilt and self-judgment. He disrespected his father. A cardinal sin, according to Dad. According to him, just having the dream proved his guilt.

Taking the measure of my father’s struggle against his guilt and self-judgment, along with his early, harsh judgment of me, helps me understand him. It doesn’t take away any blame for what he did.

It does, however, invite me to pray to our Creator, “Forgive him, for he knew not what he did.” Dad lived in the haze of his own trance-like ghosts and scripts. Unable to see beyond his own survival.

This also invites me to face my trance-like ghosts. Scenes from childhood played by ear with great skill and small vision of myself and others.

It’s Good Friday. A good day for self-examination and forgiveness.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 April 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Measure