Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day Reflections

I do not have a father, or rather a Dad.  Never have.  Never will.  It's a fact of my life.  Regardless of that fact, it doesn't make today any easier.  The knowing that while many have something to celebrate, I do not. 

One might wonder how you can miss something you've never had?  For the most part, I don't.  That is until I think about my cousins and friends who have been blessed in knowing both of their parents, being raised by both of their parents, and having the experience of seeing positive, loving relationships.  By no means do I think they've had perfect lives or that their parents had perfect relationships, but they were able to experience the good, the bad and the ugly.  I just got the bad and the ugly.  It is then that I begin to wonder what it would have been like to have a father, a positive male role model in my life.  It is then that a little bit of envy pops up and I mourn for what I never had.

I grew up with a single mother and a younger half-sister.  I had my first step-father before I was born.  He gave me his name and for the first 19 years of my life I believed that faceless name on my birth certificate to be my father.  He was not.  I had my second step-father when I was five.  He lasted about three months when I spoke out, telling the story of his abuse.  I remember one other man-friend after that.  I don't know what happened to him, or what may, or may not have transpired between him and my mother, but before I knew it he was gone too.  While I had (and have) wonderful uncles, they had their own lives and families and were not a daily influence in my life.  That was it.  Every father figure I had from birth to the age of 6 or 7 had either abused or abandoned me.  That was my experience with fatherhood.

I wasn't aware, as I reached dating age, how much my childhood experiences would impact my chosen relationships. In fact, when questioned about it I insisted that not having a father had no impact on my life at all. Whenever I heard experts tout the importance of a father figure in a child's life, I bawked at it.  I didn't have a father growing up and I turned out just fine.  Heh.

That is if just fine meant failing to be present in non-abusive relationships.  I didn't trust them.  I didn't believe a single kind or caring word they said.  Instead, I waited for them to abandon me and they always did.  Oddly, I trusted the abusive partners I chose.  I even married one of them.  He gave me exactly what I thought I deserved.  He gave me the only thing I knew to be true. 

My first marriage lasted less than a year and a half.  With the help of my friends I left and vowed to never again choose that kind of releationsihp. And I didn't.

I still have trust issues. Even after 16 years of marriage to my second husband, a part of me fails to be present and waits for the abandonment to occur. The difference today is knowing it and being aware of it and why.  It's taken an awfully long time to get here.  I've had to learn on my own through a vast array of experiences...and most of them the hard way.

Whether we have the best dad in the world, or not, the experts are right, we need them.  We need them to learn. Sometimes that means learning how not to parent, who not to marry or how not to have a relationship.  The lessons are not always fun and easy (like learning to skip rocks or bait a hook). But a faceless name?  He teaches us nothing.

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