I want to write about my father. My biological father. But I’m not sure where to start. I know it’s something I need to explore and feel but mostly when I think about him now I feel kind of numb. He was never really there for me. I know I’m not the only person to ever go through this, plenty of fathers are absent from their children’s lives. Some people don’t even know their dad. But I know mine. And I know that at his core, he isn’t a good person. He never really came to my choir performances, or parent-teacher conferences, or any school events. He is an alcoholic. Former military. Abusive in past relationships. But he’s also charismatic, charming, handsome. He can talk to anyone and he will. He gave those traits to me. He also has a vile temper and cusses like a sailor. He gave me that as well. And I have his eyes.
I always tried to love my father unconditionally. He attempted suicide when I was a freshman in high school. He blamed it on me, saying I didn’t love him enough. He married a drug addict and she ruined many things, like my high school graduation dinner. Ironically, though he was abusive to his many wives, he never really was to me. He never hit me, never called me names, I always got preferential treatment over my stepsisters (who he did beat, I found out later). We cooked together, watched movies together, listened to music way too loud, went out to eat at the local bar, where I would get a lot of Shirley Temples. I handed him tools when he fixed his truck, we barbequed and went camping and to the beach. I think in some small way he did love me. I am his only child after all. But he is selfish and incapable of a true unconditional love. Me being like my mother am compassionate and forgiving to a fault. I forgave him every time he did wrong.
I wanted him to be my hero like those other fathers I saw in movies and books. I wanted him to be proud of me. The day that all of that changed was my wedding day. He didn’t come. He didn’t call. He flew to Minnesota to see my step sisters wedding but he couldn’t make it to Santa Barabara for mine? I should have been devastated but I wasn’t. My whole life I knew he wouldn’t be there, on my wedding day. Whenever I pictured it I always saw my mom walk me down the aisle (which she did). So when he didn’t show, I took it with calm resignation. I did not cry and I was not angry.
Now as I look at my husband I realize that he is all the things my father was not. Patient, kind, thoughtful. I know he will be the kind of father I always wanted. I was lucky enough to have a stepfather that is amazing but for a girl, there is always a small hole where her father should’ve been. Most of my life I searched for validation from men. Because of his absence, I dated the wrong men, men just like him. I thought without their acceptance I was somehow less of a person. Now that I am older, I finally see the pattern of destruction I was on until God led me to Michael. Every day I am thankful. It’s been almost five years since we spoke. He has not tried to contact me. What I’ve learned is that I don’t miss him anymore. I miss the idea of him. And someday when my kids ask about him I’ll tell them the truth. He didn’t deserve to be in my life any longer and that is okay.