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Throwing Rocks at My heart This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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I took a deep breath, and cautiously opened the large glass doors to the church. It was my safe place. The only place that my dad couldn't harm me with those nasty words of his. I slowely walked into the auditorium, where the sunday morning band was getting ready for practice. This will help, I thought, it always does. I went over to where Denise, our tech woman, was and lightly took the microphone from her hands. I smiled that smile that had taken so long to perfect. I practiced it so often, and I had finally gotten it right. I learned how to act blissful even when I was not. It was my way to get through times like these without anyone asking those irritating questions. I knew no one would see through it. They never did. It had been a while sinse something this awful had happened, so I was a little nervous. I hoped I wouldn't be rusty when it came to pretending to be happy. We sang the normal songs, and Josh taught us a new one. They weren't my favorite songs, but they were ones that the audience could get into, and sing along on Sunday mornings.

The lyrics that we sang helped me some, but did not put me in a better mood, like they normally did. The words my father had said were still circling around inside of my head. Even to this day, a whole year later, I remember the exact words he said to me that day. It's like they are stuck inside of my head, never to come out.

My dad had been sleeping on his chair all afternoon, but it was time for me to go to band. I didn't want him to be in a bad mood, so I asked his fiance, Becky, if she would drive me. I went to go give my dad a kiss, and said quietly, “Hey Daddy, Becky is going to drive me to band, I will see you later, love you.” He woke up in a rage, and stomped to the door as if all he heard was “drive me to band”.

Becky tried to calm him down saying, “Cam honey, don't worry, I will drive her. Go back to sleep. It's okay.”

“Shut up. I am going to drive her. She needs to get to band.” Was the answer that she got from him. I knew then, that it would be an interesting ride to band, to say the least.

I did what I could to not seem nervous, as I got up into my father's black chevy. Once we were settled and on the road, though, my dad started talking. At first he was calm as he said, “Why can't you just spend one whole weekend with me? You are always at church doing this thing or that. I get to spend eight hours with you, and then you are leaving me again.” He paused for a second, and then his voice got louder, and much more furious. “I bet you don't do this to your mother do you? Is she more important than me? Is that stupid church of yours more important than me? More important than your own father?! I just don't understand why you can't spend time with me anymore...” I sat there and held in my tears and angry words as he kept going on and on about how I didn't love him and didn't treat him with any respect. About how family was more important than some stupid religion. His words kept coming at me as if he was throwing rocks at my heart. “Some stupid religion” is what he called it. Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship between Jesus, who died for my sins, and I. Jesus, who is God, is a better father than mine will ever be. I wasn't sure if I could forgive him this time. I had so many times before, but his words never wounded me so much. I tried telling him about christianity and what it meant to me, but he never listened. He just changed the subject, like he usually does when he feels uncomfortable. I needed some space from him so that I could get rid of all the anger that was building up inside of me, so that I could think things through, and make a decision based on the facts instead of the emotions I was feeling now.

When I was done with band, I called my mom, and she came to pick me up without me having to explain much of the situation to her. She knew that my father and I had a difficult relationship, to say the least. When she pulled into the parking lot of the church, I dragged my feet to the bright green suburban, exausted from pretending to be happy for the whole two and a half hours I was at the church. When we were on the road to home, my mom asked the dreaded question, “So what happened when your dad took you to church?”

“Well,” I answered thoughtfully, “to make a long story short he basically yelled at me the whole ride here about how I don't spend enough time with him and how I am such a bad child, after he had been sleeping all morning. Then used 'religion',” using air quotations, “against me again, without knowing anything about christianity. I get that he wants to spend more time with me, but I do have a life outside of this and it's not like I haven't skipped out on band for him before. I used to all the time, but Josh needs me to get more serious about band now. He wants to put me in on Sunday mornings now because I am learning the songs a lot quicker. I can't keep skipping on him. I can't just drop everything for my dad anymore. It's not like he ever did that for any of us.” At this point, the tears were threatening to fall again, so I stopped talking.

“What did you say to him?” My mom asked, as we were sitting down on our brown couch in the living room.

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing. If I would have said anything I would have started to cry. I didn't want to show him that he was hurting me so bad because that would mean that he won. I couldn't let him win this time. At this point, I don't even know if I want to go on seeing him anymore. I would rather just stay away.” I said, and it wasn't until after the words came out that I realized, this really was how I felt. I think I had been feeling this way a long time, but didn't understand it yet.

My mom's answer, at first, was just, “I understand.” After a long pause, she started talking again, to elaborate on what she said, “I think that it is time you start setting boundaries with your father. Take time to think about how you really feel about the situation, and decide how often you can tolerate him. You know he won't be out of your life for good, and you will have to make some sort of peace with him. He may or may not stick to the boundaries, but if he does try to over- step them, you will have to stand your ground. Otherwise you will keep getting hurt.”

I thought about her answer and decided she was right. I had a long journey ahead of me, and a lot of thinking to do, but it was something that needed to be done. I couldn't just sit around anymore and wait for him to blow up once again. It caused too much emotional stress. I wasn't going to change who he was. I was just going to have to change how I delt with it.




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