First off....let's get a couple things clear about this post. This wasn't written for sympathy or anything of that nature. It's just a topic that has come to mind a number of times to write about but I never followed through because stuff like this had never been the "Voice" of my blog. I originally started my blog intending to write craft and recipe posts, but as more and more time passed I realized that I really like to WRITE....real material that's not always easy, breezy and simple. I've been really feeling the urge to write about some more relateable topics....so here goes...
Some people might see this as airing my dirty laundry, but the way I see it is it's not my crusty underwear getting exposed. I'm more like the shirt caught in the same hamper that could have just used a light febreezing before getting caught up with other peoples grime . I haven't spoken with my dad in about 7 or so years....but I haven't had a relationship with him in 26 years. I turn 27 this year....so you see what I'm getting at here? While some never have their dad in their life at all, I did. He was physically there in my house but he was never really present. I think as a kid I didn't really notice it because I didn't know any different. It wasn't until I was about 20 that I truly saw how surface our relationship had been. Let's back it up a bit.....
My dad was (is?) very religious and spent my entire childhood holding prominent positions within our church. These positions or "callings" aren't paid so they are on top of his full time job. He spent at least 4-5 nights a week at various meetings and events for Church. It felt like despite always being taught that family came first, he took every opportunity to be away from us. When he wasn't at Church he was in his room with the door shut, or falling asleep in the living room rocking chair yet refusing to let us change the channel from Any Griffith even though he was snoring.
Me and all my sisters could never live up to what he wanted us to be. I think we all turned out damn good and the majority of parents across this planet would agree. He had 4 daughters all of which never got into ANY trouble with the law, none of us did drugs or get pregnant. We all got by in school just fine, some of us even getting scholarships.....but Oh yea.... a.big key thing was missing. We weren't Molly Mormons so we were a big disappointment. We were (are) all good people with high morals, but because we weren't what he pictured in his head to be we might as well have been shooting up heroin. Ok.....so maybe that's a little extreme....but the judgement and disappointment he had for us was obvious. This was a normal part of life though...it's not like I had known anything else
Everything came to a head though one May night when I was 16 years old. It was the night before my last day of Sophmore year when my dad asked us all to meet in the living room. The only times in my whole life that we ever met together like that was for forced "Family Home Evenings" (put me out of my misery please) but there was no Bible or Book Of Mormon in his hand so I was relieved and terrified all at the same time. He proceeded to tell us that he and my mom were "Separating" (he really meant divorcing but for whatever reason wouldn't say the word....maybe he thought you would grow horns and a tail??) It was completely unexpected and quite frankly I didn't handle it well. I had a very physical reaction the the shock that took me most of the night to calm down from. The next day I dragged my ass to the last day of school figuring I could make it through....after all it was only a few hours. I walked home from the bus stop, unlocked the front door and was immediately taken back. My father who never missed a day of work had apparently stayed home (even though I thought he left that morning) and had already packed up his shit and left. His side of the closet was completely empty, the bookshelves were cleared, and even pictures were taken off the walls (go figure they were church pictures...none o his family) It was unbelievable It had been barely 16 hours since he sat us down and he had already erased himself from the home. It was just the oddest thing and I instantly got a horrible feeling about how this was all going to play out
The next few months were weird to say the VERY very least. He would come over and spend terribly awkward time with me and my one other sister left in the house.....and even our mom. I went with it at first because I don't think I really knew how to feel or even act. He did all kinds of things he had NEVER done my entire life. He took me out to eat and to movies and we would listen to the Beatles together. When the school year was starting he even offered to take me back to school shopping for some shoes and clothes even taking me to one of the upscale shopping centers downtown that I had never been to before so I could window shop fancy things like Loubitons and Chanel....something he never would have done in a million years before. I didn't know what to make of it but at the time I felt like he was trying so I thought I would too.
It wasn't too long before he told me and my sister that he was going to start dating. A week later on the dot (yes, really) he told us he was dating "someone" From there I honestly can't even remember how quick it was before he was engaged because it was all such a mind fuck of a whirl wind.....I just remember that they got married the day after Christmas of that same year. He was out the door at the end of May and married to a new wench by Christmas. I didn't attend the wedding and had refused to meet her. I had been keeping a relationship with him but had made it EXPLICITLY clear that I would meet her when I felt ready. He ended up tricking me into meeting her (I could write a whole other post about that) and hindsight I see that that was the beginning of the end for me.
He had left his family behind in a terrible position to pick up the pieces from a mess he had created. I'm not going to get into the details of all that.....because it's just waaaaay too much. The only thing that's important to tell is that he left us all incredibly stressed. I was 17 and feeling the weight of the world. He did my mom DIRTY and we were all suffering because of it. After 29 years of marriage he picked up and started a new life with no guilt about leaving behind his responsibilities. All 4 of us sisters plus one of my brother inlaws showed up at his house and voiced our concerns. Bottom line was.....he just didn't care. "She" also opened her big stupid mouth when she had no business doing so and shes lucky I was more timid back then because I just cried instead of cussing her stupid ass out. This conversation SHOULD have been the last straw....but for some crazy reason unknown to me to this very day.....I continued to talk to him for about 6 more months. Much much less, but the contact was still there.
I had graduated high school and started my life long (but really...what's a life long dream at 18 anyway? lol) dream of culinary school. This was right in the heart of the recession and banks were being stingy with handing out loans. I had already secured the first half of my schooling long before, but it was time to get the second half squared away and nobody would give me a traditional student loan. The only option I had left was Parent Plus loan....which is basically a loan completely in the parents name applied to your schooling. I was distraught over the idea of having to drop out of school half way through and as much as I didn't want to ask him for help.....I did. After all, he had been repeatedly feeding me the line of "let me know if you need anything." Well buddy....I need something. He gave me the run around and didn't want to do it. I've blocked out the exact way it all went down but I remember he said some things that really hurt my feelings and I had a full on panic attack. It was something along the lines of him having doubt that I would make the payments and I found that insulting to my character and work ethic. I was hyperventilating and trying to calm myself down enough to make the hour drive to school for what I thought would be one of my last classes. My mom, not wanting me to have to drop out ended up filling out the paperwork with her information. It was absolutely amazing to me but somehow she got approved. At that moment my relationship with my dad was officially over for me. My mom had shown me what a parent was and what he wasn't. She KNEW me enough to know that I would do whatever it takes to make that payment and not hurt her. Her financial means was a fraction of his and she didn't hesitate to help me because she knew it was important to me. He was all talk....and quite frankly a fair weather father. This incident made me look back and realize he had never really been there for me for ANYTHING.....not just this situation. What was I holding on to?
I made the cut right then and there. He would send me emails that I would occasionally read before I ended up changing my email address completely so I wouldn't even have to see them roll in. ( oh and by the way.....it wasn't until AFTER he heard that my mom volunteered to do the loan that he sent me an email with the subject line "The answer is YES"....too late brochacho)
The next few years consisted of me avoiding him as much as possible. December became the most stressful month of the year for me. Between my birthday and Christmas I was afraid he would pop up at any minute. I would stay out late after work so that I would be getting home at a later hour that he was less likely to show up at. When I did get home I would try and rush to the front door as quick as possible and do a scan of the street first before even getting out of my car. He would show up to my moms house with my aunt, uncle, and grandpa caroling. I would roll off the couch and army crawl so he couldn't see my shadow lurking as I would pretend to not be home. I got caught once in my driveway as he stopped by right at the exact moment I was getting out of the car and trapped me. He showed up to mine and one of my sisters job a few times. He asked for my work schedule if I wasn't there. Every year around October I start having nightmares about him that always entail me trying to run away from him. If that's not telling....I don't know what is. He has since seemed to have finally given up on the physical contact (that is after he sent my uncle over to basically interrogate my brother inlaw outside his own home) and now we each just get a birthday card with gift card and a box of Sees candy at Christmas
Too Little Too Late
There were a few things here and there that we did together as I grew up that for some reason I really clung to and glamorized without realizing. My brother in-law Drew really put it into perspective for me about 5 years ago. This was 2 years into having stopped talking to him completely, but we were having a conversation about him and I said something along he lines of how of all 4 of his daughters I was probably the closest to him because "We went to Walmart together and stuff." That's when he bluntly said to me, "So?? Going to the store together doesn't make a relationship" It was a HUGE turning point for me even though I had already cut ties with him. And outsider had clearly put into perspective how silly and ridiculous what I had said and thought all these years really was. Somehow I had played up in my head the one time a year that we shopped for Christmas decorations and a few random times here and there he let me tag along with him on errands were grounds for a father daughter relationship.....and the closest of 4 at that! That's sad.
This really made me realize that there was nothing to really fight for in this relationship. It's not like a friendship or marriage where you're having a rough patch but have a firm foundation to stand on...a good place to work back to. We never had that. You simply can't fight for something that was never there to begin with. This realization was the most freeing thing in my life. I finally felt at peace with the idea that you know.....sometimes it really is too little too late. Why did he only start trying to build a relationship with us AFTER he left?? That was not the time to starting trying to be there.
You know when he should have been there? He should have been there one of the 6 or so times that I begged him to come watch my Christmas sing along at school but never showed. You know when he should have made an effort? When every single solitary year I would cut out one of my wallet sized school pictures and give it to him and say, "Here,.....for you desk at work!" because I was a little kid who had this grand idea of my father displaying my picture proudly at his job. Only to years later find a stack of every single picture I had ever given him tucked away far back inside his desk at home. As if that didn't hurt enough I finally got to go inside his job one day (he worked there for 27 years....waaaay before I was even born and had never let us go in) I got to see that next to his computer he had a GIANT corkboard....with plenty of room to display my pictures. But instead of pinning a single one he had magazine photos of Koi fish covering it instead. How's that for a giant slap in the face?
|Just a few of the pictures he wouldn't display|
Maybe instead of my best friends father being the one to take me camping for the first time, teaching me how to catch and clean fish.....he could have done that. But he didn't. (Oh wait....I'm sorry. He did invite me along on a fishing trip a few months after he got married again. He was taking all his new grandkids and invited me at the last second. The whole trip was disgusting because he was doing things and being a person I had never experienced. And all those little rugrats were already calling him Grandpa so freely it was creepy.) He didn't make the effort and he didn't EVER get to know us. His Christmas and birthday cards sound less like they're coming from a father and more like they've been written by a distant relative....like Great Aunt Gertrude! You know when somebody doesn't really know anything about you so they glom onto the two things they do happen to know and it's like a broken record? Yea....that's his cards. I like to cook and like I Love Lucy. According to him that's the scope of my entire life.
And it's not just me that feels this way. My sister Kinsey found out she had ribboned in the school art show and asked him to take her to the school to see her work. He wouldn't do it. And the thing that is even more baffling to me is that he too is an artist! He paints and this was a perfect way to bond with one of his children and connect with her on a relatable level....and he still couldn't muster the effort to show up and god forbid show he was proud of her. I think he is is absolutely clueless to things like this that have hurt us and made it so easy for us to walk away completely. I truly believe he sees our childhood and upbringing completely opposite of the way we lived it, Moments like that make or break relationships
The Good and Where I'm at Now
I 1000000x believe that my parents divorce and severing ties with dad is the best thing that could have happened for my family. Because he is gone my family is closer than ever and we actually enjoy each others company (at least I think so lol) With my dad in the picture whether we recognized it or not at the time we avoided family get togethers. If he showed up at all he made things incredibly stiff and awkward. If it was at my parents house he more than likely shut himself away in his bedroom. We were never able to really be ourselves with him around and who wants to show up to something like that? Now we can casually get together and just enjoy simply enjoy each others company without the awkwardness
Just a few weeks ago I went to dinner with my mom and had a similar conversation. I told her I truly believed she wouldn't have the relationship she has with her kids had she still been married to him. When you're married you're a package deal and when nobody is interested in 50% of the package.....most likely you will suffer for it to unfortunately. I said to her....like right now.....on what planet would you and I be having dinner together on a Sunday afternoon if dad was still here? It wouldn't happen plain and simple.
Overall the stress of maintaining even an acquaintance type relationship with him just wasn't worth it. I spent my childhood feeling awkward, uncomfortable and judged and I wasn't about to put myself through that my entire adult life as well....I don't have the time or energy for fake shit anymore. We are all living life just fine without him and I won't be losing sleep over it. He's the one whose missing out....not us. He never got to see 2 of his daughters get married, his granddaughters grow up, and soon he will have a grandson he will never meet....but being a part of all of this was a privilege he surrendered long ago....and he can live with the consequences for the choices he made.
|My mom walking me down the aisle at my wedding|
Some times I think you learn alot more from the bad than you ever do the good. Instead of taking a good father daughter relationship for granted it has made me more firm in my expectations for my future children....and if The Boy is half as good to our human children as he is to our Kitty I'm pretty sure everything will be fine. I don't think having a relationship with your kids is as hard as he made it.
I'm still incredibly grateful to be have the example of a good father around me. My brother inlaws became my role models for it and I've watched them more closely over the years than they probably even realize. Simple things like watching them teach their daughters (and me!) how to shoot a gun, fish, participating in father daughter derbys, having a an annual picture taken of the two of them and proudly displaying it for everyone to see.....those are the things I am happy to witness and I am beyond grateful that my nieces don't know any different. I jut want them to understand that not everybody gets that experience in life.
I am never sad over the absence of HIM I merely get sad over the idea of what SHOULD have been....and even that feeling is far more infrequent as the years pass. I'm doing just fine without him.....just add me to the list of girls with daddy issues.