As a child, I never really knew my Dad.
I have vague memories of the first few years of my life before my parents divorced, memories I have tried to make sense of my entire life, in the face of the two very different versions of events I’ve been given. Somewhere between them lies fact and truth. Maybe one day I’ll find it. But for now, the pieces continue not to fit, and I continue to claw at distorted recollection hoping to find the answers I need.
Aside from that, I have just a few photos, photos that I cherish. In them, my Dad smiles, and so do I, and I wonder – is it possible? Is it possible there was a time we were happy? I was happy? If there was, I don’t remember. I don’t remember being loved, and cared for, and cherished, and what it was like to feel safe in a strong pair of arms.
I only remember the years of hell that came after that, and continued until I left home, far too young and far too broken.
I made it through those years without my Dad. Went out with my first boyfriend without my Dad, finished school without my Dad, got my first place to live, my first car, my first job without my Dad. Walked down the aisle on my own, without my Dad. I learned to be a person who didn’t need anybody else, who could do it on her own, whose fierce independence would always negate the efforts of anyone who tried to get close and help.
I was 20 years-old when I reunited with my Dad. Like a little girl, I was besotted. It didn’t matter, the past, all that mattered was after so many years, I finally had a Dad.
To finally get to know him was a wonderful thing. The likeness, the similarities, the ways I discovered more about myself through him. We were close for a time, but over the years distance and disconnection has crept back in. Words have been said, and I have struggled through questions and resentments and pain. I haven’t known how to bridge that gap. Or maybe I just haven’t needed to. Because I’ve never known how to stop being so independent or how to need someone or rely on them for anything.
I guess, ultimately, I’ve never known how to be a daughter.
Because maybe you can’t learn to be a daughter if you’ve never been one.
Maybe you can only do the best with what you know.
And what I know is I’m thankful to finally, as an adult, know my Dad. I’m thankful for the parts of him I see mirrored in myself, and in my own children. I’m thankful for the times we have connected, and for the way that has brought a sense of restoration to me. I’m thankful for the ways he has reached out, even when it’s been hard, and for the love he has shown me in his own way, even when I haven’t seen it.
Maybe I’ll never really know how to be a daughter, and maybe I’ll always remain on the sidelines of a life and a family I still don’t know where or how to fit within, and maybe in life there’s some gaps that can never be entirely bridged and maybe the best thing is just to accept that.
But for what it’s worth – I love you, Dad.
Happy Father’s Day x