While most people are honoring their fathers today, I am choosing to honor my dad-friends and single mom-friends who are an inspiration to me.
It took me many years to accept that a relationship with my father was an impossible dream. I felt close to him when I was very young, but that all changed by the time I reached high school. My father had such deep-rooted issues and many crutches; instead of breaking the cycle of the dysfunction he grew up with, he chose to continue on that path. His emotional availability was zero. In retrospect, I think he found it easier to relate to me as a young child because he could amuse me at his convenience and hand me back to my mom when he was finished.
My father was abusive and his alcoholism made it worse. I hated the way he treated my mother, always criticizing her for every little thing. If he didn’t like something she was doing, he would try intimidate her with dagger stares and fill the house with as much tension as possible. As I got older, he verbally abused me daily and forgot about it once he “slept off” the buzz.
It wasn’t until I experienced abuse during my marriage that I realized exactly what my mom went through and it changed the way I viewed my father. As bad as his fuel-driven verbal abuse was, I could still distance myself from it by hiding away in my bedroom, with the door locked. I couldn’t escape the marital abuse because it was always “in my face”. During the numerous conversations I had with my mom over the years, we concluded that we were married to the same men. Whenever I told her what my ex did to me, she would say, “Your father did the same thing to me.”
The wonderful counselor who empowered me, when my abusive marriage was over, also helped me to deal with additional [father] issues that surfaced years after his passing. By the end of my last session, I’d realized and accepted that:
~ I didn’t need his (or anyone else’s) approval after all.
~ I am and will always be okay, despite not having a good relationship with my father.
~ the problems we had were his fault, not mine…because I was the child who simply wanted his love/attention and he was the parent who neglected to nurture me.
~ I could forgive him ~ to liberate myself ~ but not to condone what he did.
~ I don’t have to honor him in any way, if I don’t feel it in my heart.
~ death does not make “bad” people “good”.
~ “Dad(dy)” is an not automatic term; it has to be earned. And felt.
So, no, I won’t be changing my Facebook profile picture to display one of my father. My Father’s Day wishes won’t be directed at him. I won’t be releasing a balloon with a card attached, as I did for my mom on Mother’s Day, because I could not find a card with the words to appropriately say how I feel about him (there are none). Yes, I have forgiven him. But I cannot, will not regard him as a “Dad”.