“You and your brother are the worst things to ever happen to me.”
“Well then maybe you should’ve kept your pants on in the 80s”
“You’re right, maybe I should have”
It was a year ago today, that I had made the decision to walk away from my father completely. To most, it’s because of a car. To me, it was so much more than that.
As far as I know, this is the only picture of me and my dad when I was young. I think I’m about 4 or 5. It was my cousin’s wedding, and I remember that night solely because of this dance, and that dress. There was another picture, taken later that evening, of me spinning around and around. Unbeknownst to me, my dress had lifted in the air, and there I was, flashing my tiny white underwear to the entire crowd. I remember the embarrassment on my grandmother’s face. I remember this dance, because it’s the first memory I have of dancing. He was the first man to ask me, ‘can I have this dance?’ and he was the one who taught me how. This is the only honest and pure memory of happiness I have with my dad. 25 years of disappointment is what followed.
My parent’s got divorced when I was young. We had moved to a new house in the summer and I remember him walking out on my mother Christmas day. On New Year’s, they pulled my brother and I in from outside, sat us down, and told us they were getting a divorce. They asked us if we had any questions.
“Can we go back outside and play?”
That was my brothers response. They said yes, and we went back out to play. I spent a few years after this day regretting not asking questions. Albeit, I was a child. What questions was I going to ask? What questions could I have known to ask? I didn’t know what that meant, ‘divorce’. They said dad wasn’t going to live with us, well he was only ever home on weekends as is- what was changing? He moved in with my uncles down the street.
I think that if my dad had decided not to move out of town, life would have been different. Maybe I tell myself that, because I need to believe there was a choice he made wrong. I understand him leaving my mother, at the time maybe not, but now- I do. They weren’t good together. They were young, and dumb, and got pregnant. It wasn’t what either of them wanted for their lives. My parent’s got married in August 1985, 7 months later my brother was born. I understand he needed out of his marriage, and I’m at peace with that. He told me once that my mother forced him out of the house, forced the divorce because she wanted more money from the government. Sometimes, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in that situation. I mean, it’s possible. That’s his side. Whether that is true or not, is between him and my mother. But he chose to leave. But he also chose not to be more active in his children’s lives.
Over the last year, I’ve really started to look at the core beliefs I have. Everyone has them, the beliefs about you that makes you, You. Like Inside Out’s core memories. One of my core beliefs is that I’m not enough. That’s what I grew up believing. I’m not smart enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not athletic enough, I’m not funny enough, I’m not clean enough. I’m not healthy enough, skinny enough, fat enough, driven enough, sane enough, happy enough, just never enough. Nothing I did was ever good enough, not for anyone. But when I look back on it now, I wonder… To whose standards? I don’t know.
But I knew the only way I was going to start believing that I was good enough, was if I stopped letting people make me feel like I wasn’t. After 6 months of battling over a stupid car, and being treated so poorly by the paternal side of my family, I said enough was enough. I was choosing me. No one else had ever, or was ever going to chose me, so I had to do it. I had to draw the line, and say no more. I was removing myself from a situation, that I no longer wanted to be in. I was no longer going to be affected by their choices. All I wanted was an apology, and at the end of it all- I didn’t even get that.
Sometimes I look back and wonder if I made the right decision. Maybe I was the one in the wrong. Maybe I always have been. Maybe I had been bias, maybe I needed to let go of all the hurt and hate from those 20 odd years. But he has not once tried to get in contact with me over the last year. He hasn’t tried to make it better. And sometimes that hurts me more, because…
If he wanted me in his life- wouldn’t he have fought to keep me in it?
Even if you completely disregard the first 29 years, his actions – or lack there of – over the last year, are still shit, and only validates my thoughts or feelings about the first 29. Because I am certain that at someone point over the last year, someone said to him ‘Fix this with your daughter’ and he didn’t. And if no one did say that to him… well- I guess that speaks volumes too.
I don’t regret my decision. It was the best thing I could’ve done for myself. I stood up for myself, I empowered myself. I achieved so much over the last year, every goal I set out to achieve. And I don’t think any of it would’ve happened if I didn’t take that first step.
There are lots of things I regret in my life, but disowning my father is not of them.