This tiny mural on the infinite wall of the World Wide Web, my brilliantly painted brick in a never-ending wall of Humanity; this is my refuge. This is my Last Resort, my Wailing Wall, my Pandora's Box. This is where I crawl, drunken and lonely, to feel weak and flawed, wicked and forgotten, wasted and devastated. This is where I feel safe to be the basest parts of me that I share with no other.
This is also the place I find myself when I want to laugh the loudest, feel the strongest, and stand the tallest.
This is where I come to forgive myself.
My greatest fear in life is that I have failed as a father. It appears on these tear-stained pages frequently, and the very act of admitting this fear makes me weep. It makes me weep for my sons, for my own father, for me.
But when I am ready for it, and attuned to it, I am reminded of the ways in which I not only succeed, but surpass my own expectations:
To tell this story, I must speak briefly of my own father; often viewed by me as a demigod in the past, a man that I admired and loved, a man perhaps even more flawed than myself and less willing to admit to it.
As a teenager, I was plagued with feelings of depression, melancholy, of being a misfit. I often asked myself, "What's the point? No one understands me, no one ever will. I am not normal. What is the point?" And I felt that this would never change.
Attempts to express these feelings with my father were met with derision, and I grew to manhood secretly believing that something was so fractured within my very being that I would never recover. It took many, many years to finally open up with close friends and family about what I felt, and I finally realized that all of this was much more common than I had been led to believe.
Recently, my oldest son admitted to me that he had a bad day.
"Nothing really happened, Dad. I just felt like a failure. I felt like this day was a bad day and nothing could fix it. I tried to tell myself that it would get better, but at the same time I still felt like there was no point to this."
"Son, that's perfectly normal. I used to feel that way. A lot. I still do sometimes. Just remember that so many people love you, and that if you can just get through today, tomorrow will be better."
"Thanks for talking with me about it. It's important to feel comfortable to talk with me or your mom or Grammy, or a teacher maybe, about these feelings. We've all been there at some point. Okay?"
"I love you, buddy."
"I love you, too."
Myriad are my failings; as a father, as a person. But my relationship with my boys is such that they feel comfortable being maladjusted and vulnerable in the open with me, affording me the opportunity to reply in kind, and to express to them the one jewel I never received but that we all so desparately need:
This is normal, and it will pass.
And in that same moment, I am able to remind myself that I am, in fact, a good father, as fallible and imperfect as I might be.