Wednesday, December 1, 2010

25 to Life

I am safely home from Boston. It was a good trip and I was excited to share that part of my childhood with my Husband. He loved Boston and I loved showing it to him.

The trip itself brought up a lot of emotions in me. I spent every summer in New England growing up visiting my Dad, Aunts, and Grandparents. My parents split up when I was three months old and when we were old enough my brothers and I spent a month of every summer there with our family.

For me, when a school year would end I was, of course, excited about summer vacation but it was more about seeing my Dad. I only saw him once or twice a year at the most and those summer visits were so looked forward to. Every year I went out with my hopes and excitement soaring and every year I was disappointed. My Dad just wasn't the man and the father that I had built up in my head. I always ended up being sorely disappointed and left heartbroken.

There are way too many issues and circumstances for me to go into here but let's just say that he seemed much more interested in time with my brothers and I was left with whatever relative was free. I so badly wanted a Daddy and I never got one. Even through my teenage years I fought for a relationship with him and it just never seemed to happen.

In hindsight, I still have a very hard time forgiving the unintentionally cruel things that he said to me without thinking. Words can cut deep and leave lasting scars. But, overall, I think that he just had no idea what to do with a daughter. With my brothers they could go fishing and all that fun boy stuff but with me... I wanted glitter and mermaids and he had no idea how to deal with that. So he left it up to his sister and his parents.

Finally, when I was 25 I decided I was done. I was done trying to be close with him and I worked at trying to accept that we would only have a very surface relationship with no real meat to it.

When I was 25 I got engaged. And of course, I told my Dad and begged him to walk me down the aisle. He reluctantly agreed.

My wedding came around when I was 26 and he walked me down that aisle and even danced with me at the reception (after my new husband decided to take matters into his own hands and just have the father daughter dance announced and trapped him into it).

After the wedding, something changed. My Dad started calling me a lot. He checked in about once a week to see how I was. It was a strange shift and I had a hard time with it. I had written him off, I no longer had it in me to try. And most of all I didn't want my heart broken anymore. But he stayed consistent. He kept calling and it felt like he really wanted to make an effort to be in my life. So I let myself hope one more time. Hoping that this wouldn't be a repeat performance. But he kept calling and making an effort.

While my husband and I were in Boston my Dad pulled out an old box of letters that my brothers and I had written him growing up. Some were funny, and most of mine were utter ridiculousness. But throughout them all there was a desperate tone. From all three of us there were desperate pleas that you could read between the lines. Sometimes it wasn't even between the lines... Outright questions.

"Where are you?"
"Where are you living?"
"When will we see you next?"
"Please don't forget that I love you."

All of us, at some point, wrote these words.

In one memorable, melodramatic moment my 10 year old self apologized for being born and being the cause of the divorce.

All I could think as I read these letters is that all of us were desperate for this man to love us. It honestly took me back to all those feelings and broke my heart all over again.

My husband reminded me that he was still trying and I shouldn't shut down. So I struggled not to.

And I ended up having a great visit with my Dad. We hung out, we went and saw the sights and we laughed together.

My husband pointed out that my Dad and I have the same ridiculous sense of humor. It was a revelation to me. I had never considered that I would have something in common with this man who I had chased after my whole life.

And all I could think was... we finally share something. We can laugh together.

It's not the relationship that I yearned for growing up and it's not a replacement for the years of broken hearts and tears because I didn't have a Daddy. But it is a place to start.

My Dad will never be someone I can go to with every hurt and he will never be the one to comfort me when I cry. But we can laugh together.

And that's something, isn't it?

Sarah Q


  1. This post really hit home for me. My dad was not in my life from the time I was 9 to present. There was an ugly divorce, a LOT of drinking and abuse and my mom got us away from him as soon as possible. I tried to reconnect with him when I was 26 and engaged. I met up with him (after searching for him for a long time - tracking his medical billings)and it was the closure I needed. I thought I would be starting a new relationship, but I instead ended my fantasies.

    I am glad that you were able to get something out of this relationship. There is something about a father/daughter bond that is hard to get over and I am just happy that you are able to find something to hold on to.

  2. you have many layers... it's bittersweet. i'm sad that you felt so rejected but happy that he's making an effort now. glad you're home safe and sound!

  3. You bet it's something! Laughter can help in many ways. It's a step, and a good one. I'm proud of you.

  4. That is something. Something important and a foundation you can grow from.

    I am sorry the little girl in you still hurts. Wounds take time to heal, but the good thing is...they CAN heal.

  5. I know I told you this yesterday on Twitter, but this post spoke to me so much. As a woman who also spent years with unrealistic expectations of her father, I completely understand. It's tough when our parents don't live up to what they should. But we can only control our own expectations. It royally sucks.



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