Father’s Day without a Father can be hard. It has always made me cringe. It is a day I never have truly celebrated, and until recently, I never even talked about it either.
I was raised to hide my trauma from my real father. He was always the elephant in the room. Hiding him and my trauma meant being ashamed of who I was, and to this day there are people that don’t want me to talk about him. But it’s not their decision to make. “Why tell it? It’s private. You share too much. What will your xyz think? I wouldn’t if I were you. They will say ‘have you seen Jessica’s post? OMG!”
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My real father died back in June 2001. He had no other children, and he was in a relationship with a man in Florida when he died. When he died I had no family to grieve with or to even argue with, since I was an only child from a divorced quick marriage of young parents. I was the black sheep of a man that ran away from responsibilities and no family wanted to even acknowledge me or my pain and anger.
When he died, it was one of the loneliest times in my entire life. No family member on either side asked me if I needed someone to talk to or how I felt when my dad died. I was in a new city alone, and I didn’t know how to deal with this anger, sadness and resentment in my heart. I needed therapy but I had no insurance or money. I turned to alcohol for the quick fix.
I was angry at him for not being in my life. I was angry for him moving away and never picking up the phone to see how his only daughter was. I was angry I had a classic deadbeat for a father. I vowed never to have children because I would never want that pain to be passed down to any kid. I didn’t want to chance it. Ever.
“Daddy issues” was something that was (and sometimes is still) always pinned on me, like it was my shame to bare when it was his lack of responsibility that was the issue. My 20’s were filled with alcoholism, living on the edge of danger, working in clubs, and if you knew me in my 20s, I was wild. It was a mask for the pain I felt because of him (and others) from feeling rejected for my entire life.
In every single relationship (and even some friendships) I’ve ever had, at one point has thrown “you have daddy issues” to get a one up in an argument or to prove their point. It’s a cheap shot that makes people feel validated in their argument. You get so many thrown though, that it doesn’t sting any more. You can tell me all day now, it doesn’t even poke.
He died at 43 years old in a car accident while on vacation. It’s been 21 years since his death.
If there is life after death, I hope he realizes he missed out on a hell of a daughter and some cute grand kids. I hope he can scroll through Facebook and see that I used my “daddy issues” to make a damn good backbone and that I made it this far in life without an ounce of help from him. I am a first generation college graduate, I broke generational cycles and I have done well for myself both personally and professionally without an ounce of his help.
We all don’t have great fathers or even fathers that would acknowledge us in their lives. If you fall into your kids knowing you exist and you turn the other cheek, you should reconsider before it’s too late.
Why am I sharing this? Because I can. Because for ME, sharing means I’m not ashamed of the cards I was dealt. Because you can’t use the fact that I had a dad that didn’t care to watch me grow up against me, even if you try. Because sharing life is part of healing from it. Because I’m not wearing shame from someone else’s failures. Because it doesn’t matter if you don’t agree with me. Because June-Father’s Day without a Father-doesn’t sting anymore like it did 21 years ago. Because you can heal from pain. Because it’s a part of my life story. Because I felt like it. Because sometimes, your parents are not the best of people, and that is okay. They do not determine your fate, YOU do.
To anyone navigating Father’s Day without a Father, I see you.