I was talking with one of my BFFs today about my Daddy issues. The first man in your life is your father and that will be the foundation of all relationships to come. If there is no father present (and mother doesn't know any better) then the daughter will seek out attention from any male that will give it to her. Luckily I didn't have a totally absent father, and when he was around he was superb. But there has been so much space in between that not only are there gaps in between major points on my time line of life, there's also gaps in my heart. I am not going to verbally bash my father, I love him dearly, but hopefully letting this little bit out will give me some prospective on our relationship and perhaps a reader or two?
My father is a fine man. He is strong and vulnerable at the same time. He has a goofy sense of humor that won me over as a child. When I was small he told me "I'm so glad I can hold your hand now! You used to be so tiny I had to carry you in my pocket! I even stepped on you once!" and I completely believed him. I loved how he played with my gullibility. But then he was gone, for months at a time. I couldn't understand why, if he loved me so much, if we got along so well together, if I was such a good girl and his little princess, why did he stay away? After a while I stopped wondering and simply knew that's the way he is. I stopped wondering when I was going to hear from him, when he was going to come by, when I'd get a letter or card, I simply went on with my life. I visited him from time to time, sometimes spending a month or two, but we had spent so much time apart that he hardly knew me.
When I did visit my father he tried to make the most of it and most of the time he did an amazing job of teaching me about life, God, boys, family etc. The problem was that he didn't really take the time to get to know me, he was too busy trying to cram in all the life lessons he wanted me to learn, and learn them I did, but he still didn't know me. He always thought I was simple and perfect, he didn't realize that I didn't know him well enough to be vulnerable with him, I didn't know him well enough to let my true colors show. I was always on my best behavior as if I were visiting an Aunt or Uncle's house.
For a while, many years actually, whenever he would call I'd revert back to a 12 year old girl calling him Daddy and saying everything was perfect so he wouldn't worry about me. We never argued about anything, ever. We didn't know each other well enough to argue, so we'd be polite, he'd say how proud I make him and that would be that. He wouldn't know that I was having a bad day, perfect little girls don't have bad days. He wouldn't know that I'd argued with my husband, my marriage was perfect. He wouldn't know that I struggle with my son, in his mind I'm a perfect mother because I'm a perfect daughter. Only recently have I allowed myself to be myself, answering the phone "Hello Dad" instead of a girlie "Hi Daddy!" I'm no longer nervous about admitting that I'm too tired to talk or that I argued with my husband that day or that my son has me about to pull my hair out or that my hair is jumping out on its own. He stutters when he's nervous talking to me, and lately he's been stuttering a whole lot.
My father needs to know the real me. Knowing me should be a good thing not something that makes him so nervous he can't talk. In discovering more about myself in my relationship to my husband, I've discovered what's missing in my relationship to my father, a relationship. I haven't had that "You've ruined my life" fight with him nor do I want to, but I have been making sure he knows his part in my life has been small and I'm done waiting for when he's ready to be more present. My daughters have been calling him a lot lately and he promised to send them some money. I told my step mother that he cannot make those promises to them like he did me. My girls are not used to having promises broken and I refuse to allow them to be hurt by him no matter what intentions he may have had. The following week there was a card for me and a money order for my daughters. When I called to say "thank you" for the gifts he said "My granddaughter challenges me and I want to meet that challenge". My heart surged. I don't think he realized just how proud of him I was then. I then told him the same thing I've told my husband many times, "I wouldn't expect so much from you if I didn't think you could do it". And with that we said our good-byes, blew kisses, and hung up. I'm looking forward to the next phone call.