It bothers me a bit that even when the weather is nice, the parks around the area are pretty empty. Maybe it’s because of video games and other electronics.
Of course, the other part of me (the part who hates crowds), rejoices when the park isn’t crowded. I don’t bother visiting any of the local parks on holidays like Easter, Mother’s Day, Independence Day. And usually not on the day after because of all the damn trash left behind.
But I did get down to Hazel Bazemore Park the other day. I don’t visit it as often as West Guth because it’s a little bit further away from the house. But it’s a wonderful place to visit. Especially if you are a bird lover. There’s a great area by the entrance where you can watch a multitude of species of birds.
I hung a right off FM 624 (I’ll never get used to calling it Northwest Blvd.). Going straight after the speed bump takes you down this steep hill, which makes me nervous because a) it’s a steep fucking hill, b) park speed limit is 5 mph and c) there’s a patch of pebbles in the middle of the road at the bottom of the hill.
But after you get down there, you’ll get to take a pretty gentle ride around a loop that takes you alongside the Nueces.
We have this one fishing spot near the boat ramp. It’s nothing too special, but it does have all the amenities a fisherman who would eventually give up on catching his dinner (and end up barbecuing) would need.
I’ve caught nothing, but a slime-covered perch and a ton of frustration at this spot.
The last time we went fishing here was the time I realized I needed professional help. I reached the deepest of my unmedicated depression that day.
I took Luke fishing here for his 5th birthday. I was working nights, the other kid was at school, and Luke loves to fish. We went to Walmart to get him a new pole, which I let him pick out.
Now, Luke is the epitome of a hands-on learner. He grabs things before he thinks about whatever consequences might come from them. I’m grateful that nothing too terrible has happened to him as a result.
I tell you that to tell you what set me off that day. As we left Walmart, with his new pole and a cup of worms, Luke kept asking me if he could hold his fishing pole in the truck on our way to the park. I would normally have said no, because he tends to destroy things when not properly supervised. Sometimes he destroys things even when he’s properly supervised.
So I agreed to let him hold it. I took it out of its package and gave it to him. I warned him to be careful with it, too.
It was his birthday and I hoped today might be different. Like maybe his excitement would temper his destructive little hands.
No such luck, friends.
Now, my youngest has a hard time listening. And when you couple that with curious hands, you find yourself in potentially frustrating situations. Well, this time he managed to separate the line from within the reel, so that it was impossible to cast the line.
I tried to keep my cool as best as I could. I set him up in the bed of the Tundra while I fiddled about with the reel. He kept asking about when we were going to start fishing, when could he hold one of the worms, when were we going to eat. This went on for about half an hour.
I don’t like being bombarded with questions, especially when I’m trying to concentrate. And especially when that concentration is applied toward fixing a problem I didn’t create. I know, I know, he’s five. And I’m the adult.
Still, nearly eight months since then, I am deeply ashamed of what I did next.
I threw his brand new fishing pole on the ground with all my strength. I shouted at him about how frustrating it is that he didn’t listen to me yet again. I went on about how, because he didn’t listen, he ruined our fishing trip. And how I went against my better judgment by letting him hold onto the fishing pole while we were heading to the park.
He stood there, staring at what must have been a terrible sight. A grown man, his father, throwing his possession on the ground, screaming at him, blaming him for something probably any kid his age would have done. On his birthday.
And he was terrified. His bottom lip started sticking out. His eyebrows knitted together. Tears, that had started welling up when I started yelling, streamed from his eyes. Eyes that are the same color as mine. He couldn’t say he was sorry. He couldn’t begin to explain why he’d done what he’d done. He could just stand there and cry.
I realized I had allowed a monster inside of myself come out and attack someone I cared about. One of only a few people I would die for.
I turned away from him. Shame and anger, at myself, filled my head. What the hell did I just do, I asked myself. This isn’t the man I want to be.
I took a few deep breaths and turned back to face my still-crying son. I pulled him close to me in a tight hug. I whispered “I’m sorry” into his ear. I was able to calmly tell him that I shouldn’t have gotten so angry at him.
His sobs slowly turned to sniffles as I asked him if he’d like to use my fishing pole instead. He nodded. I let him get out a worm and I put it on the hook for him and cast the line out. Luke very quickly returned to his chatty, happy-go-lucky self. We did catch that perch after a few casts.
And after about an hour, we headed home. Luke was talking about something to me from his seat in the back. He’d completely forgotten about the pole, about my outburst. He only remembered the worms. And the tiny fish we caught and threw back.
My mind was slowly churning through what happened. Yes, I’ve gotten mad at my sons. Yes, I’ve yelled before. But this was different. And completely uncalled for. I nearly burst into tears on several occasions during the 10-minute drive home. But I pulled it together when we got home.
I had been taking St. John’s Wort for a couple of weeks, but it hadn’t helped. Not one damn bit. I told the wife that Luke ruined his fishing pole and I got mad at him, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell her the details. I think I said something to the effect of, “I got a little more mad than I should have.”
That outburst was easily one of the lowest points of very shitty things that happened that year in my life, but in some ways I’m grateful it happened. While I know Luke will remember, on some level, just how angry and (in his eyes) scary I got, that event pushed me to seek out help. I needed professional help dealing with something that had been a part of my life for nearly two decades.
Keep in mind, I don’t have anger issues. Usually, I’m pretty cool when shit doesn’t go my way. But where depression comes in, you let stuff build up. You tell yourself things like “I don’t want to burden anyone with my issues,” or “I just need to learn to deal with stuff better.” Admitting that I had no control over parts of my mind was easily one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do. My mind is my refuge, my source of strength, in a way, my greatest ally. And now, with depression, it became my greatest adversary.
So that was the day Lacey and I decided I needed to see my doctor. I made an appointment that day.