I find myself really struggling to write this post. It has taken me a long time and a lot of effort in fighting back tears. The week leading up to Father’s Day had me going back and forth on whether or not I would say something to my dad. (Spoiler alert: I chose not to). Our relationship has not been great since roughly 1999 and it has been especially rough for almost the past 3 years.
Let me start from the beginning…
My parents divorced when I was around 5. My mom got primary custody and I saw my dad every other weekend. He and I were buds. We did everything together. I looked forward to those weekends so much! I think because we got so little time together, he really tried to make the most of every weekend. We would go out to dinners, get pizza and rent movies (or go to the movies), go to Six Flags, play mini golf, take trips to Branson, you get the picture. My mom and I have always had a strained relationship and my dad was very much my rock. I wanted to be just like him.
Fast forward to 13-14 year old me…
My dad started dating someone. It all happened very quickly. This was a man who didn’t have girlfriends, and if he did, I never knew them. For all I knew, he was single from the time he and my mom divorced. Within a year, he started a relationship, moved her and her two daughters into our house, and got married. It was definitely a big change. It wasn’t all bad at first. I knew even at a young age that my dad was lonely. He deserved someone as great as he was. But then things started to collapse. My dad’s kindness and generosity was being taken advantage of and he seemed even more lonely even though he now had a house full of people. I was only at his house every other weekend, yet things always seemed to be my fault. I didn’t really get along with his new wife or her daughters and I was told it was because I didn’t put in enough effort. On my end though, it was like being a stranger in my own house. It was like my dad spent all his time and energy keeping them happy and he just didn’t have time for me anymore. It was like they were a family and I was an outsider. I was excluded from family trips, my name was left off of Christmas cards, things were taken from my room, I was treated very different from the other two girls and it seemed to be all my fault.
This post would be a mile long if I included all of the stories and instances of hurt and neglect I felt, so I’ll just include the ones that stick out most in my mind. I was put in dangerous situations on numerous occasions because of the lack of morals and careless judgment on the part of my step family. For instance, at 14 or 15 years old, my older step-sister of the two decided to invite over several adult aged males (I’m talking 20 years and older), that she just met, to our house one night. My dad and his wife worked nights at the time, so the three of us girls were often left alone. This particular night, I locked myself in my room and turned the light off and didn’t answer the door even as one of the men knocked. I was scared out of my mind. I didn’t get the courage to tell my dad about it until a few years later. And guess what; he did nothing about it and we didn’t speak of it again. A few years later, my younger step-sister (14 at the time) had a boyfriend living with us, with the consent of her mother, who was 18 years old. This man assaulted me in my own home by shoving me into a wall when I criticized him for the way he was treating my younger step-sister. I went to my dad immediately and he told me it wasn’t his place to do anything. It was shortly thereafter that I moved to a different city and stopped coming to visit.
My dad and his wife got divorced in 2007 and I still feel like part of the blame of that marriage ending was placed on me. My relationship with my dad got a little better after, but was still strained due to him continuing to see his now ex-wife’s daughters (and their children). I guess in my mind, when you divorce a spouse, you also divorce their family. That’s what happened when my mom divorced my sister’s dad and I think that’s how it should be. But he kept pictures of them up in his house, continued to see them and their children, and continued to support them financially. I was never okay with it and he knew that, but we never talked about it. I guess I was okay with pretending they weren’t still a part of his life because in a way I had gotten my dad back.
Fast forward a few more years…
In 2014, my dad thought it was his responsibility to play hero to his ex-wife’s younger daughter. Her daughter had recently gotten divorced, had three kids to take care of, and needed somewhere to live. My dad took all four of them into his home. This is the part where I snapped. I got Hulk angry. I told my dad this was not okay. They were not his responsibility. He should not let them take advantage of him anymore. Her situation is the result of poor decisions and repeat mistakes. Her irresponsibility got her where she is. Of course my words were once again taken as jealous and insensitive. But I put my foot down. I told my dad that I would not be in his life if they continued to be. And I have only seen my dad once, maybe twice in nearly three years. I think she and her kids have since moved out, but I know he continues to support her. He knows how I feel about the situation and he continues to play the victim and somehow get pity from our entire family.
I know people make mistakes. I am far from perfect. But I didn’t ask to be brought into this world. When you make the decision to become a parent, you vow to love, protect, and put your children first. During his efforts to play father to people who aren’t even family, he has continued to push away his only child. He has hurt me in ways no one else ever has. To go from being my favorite person in the entire world to someone I feel I barely even know absolutely breaks my heart. I don’t think he even considers what I went through to be traumatic, but it definitely is. You don’t realize how the things you endure as a child affect you well into your adult life. And over time those things build up and have the ability to eat away at you, consume your thoughts, and affect your relationships.
I work so hard to be my best. I am constantly trying to improve myself. I only want to surround myself with people who fulfill me and love me for me. I’m having to rewire my brain in some aspects when those old feelings creep up. The ones where I feel not good enough for even my own father to love. I’m realizing that’s not my problem. That’s his problem.