Dad was riding his bike to work. The driver swerved out of the lane, struck dad with his wicked jacked up Ford F-250 and fled. He later returned to the scene when it was too late. Two days later we buried Dad on his 38th birthday.
I sat alone and watched reruns in black and white. I closed my bedroom door. I kept it all inside. I grew up.
Suddenly I was about to turn 38, too. Suddenly I had a family of my own. Suddenly my baby girl was nine, my age when my father died. The past swelled up under my skin. I asked for the police report from 1984. I saw the photos and read the driver's account. I thought confronting the past would help, but I began having trouble sitting still. I began to lose sleep.
If I penetrated the sadness, anger, resentment and frustration that I had held onto for so long I wasn't certain I could keep it all together. For 29 years I had kept my struggles with anxiety internal. I was from a blue collar town in South Jersey, the son of a Marine Sergeant. I thought that I could tough it out.
But I finally broke down. I started seeing a therapist. I talked to friends. Surprisingly, most of them had dealt with similar difficulties. And they seemed to respect me more, not less, for my confessions. Getting help made a difference. I slowly began to improve.
I didn't forget that when the anxious feelings had been at the worst I had made a promise — to God, to Dad, to myself, to whomever might listen to my thoughts and prayers — that if I ever got better, I wouldn't be ashamed tell everyone that it could get better.
I thought that my story might help someone else.
I hope that it will.
With a Perspective, I'm Jonathan Slusher.
Jonathan Slusher is a writer and stay-at-home dad. He lives in Half Moon Bay.