Dear Dad

I think I mentioned that my issues this weekend were not really about food, exercise, or my expanding body.

I think I also said that I had not yet processed the feelings I was having about our family all being together.  But please don’t mistake this for me being upset that I was acquiring some new members. In fact I am thrilled to have more prospective brothers and sisters, but watching Jim interact with his children was really difficult to watch.

I love my Poppy. He is a wonderful man, who is ultra generous, and wonderfully fun to be around, but the time we spend together is few and far between.

He and my mom got married when I was a junior in high school, and he was gracious enough to treat me and adopt me as his own since I had never met my biological father.

We were very close and had a lot of similar interests, enjoyed baseball games, politics, school, current events, and always tried to have breakfast once a week to catch up and talk before work. But as the years have passed, this tradition has faded and I only get to see him for maybe 15 minutes every week when I stop by his dealership after school.

He no longer lives in our town, and only comes here on weekdays to attend to the business he still has here, which means he is very busy and our schedules sometimes clash.

I do try to stop by, bring coffee or just pop my head in to say hello because I really  miss him, but I would be lying if I said I was happy with this arrangement.

I watched Jim hug his daughter (who is my age), sit next to her on the couch, and play a game on the iPad, tell her he missed her, was sad to see her go at the end of the weekend, and just be affectionate to a point I have never seen between a dad and his little girl.

I remember being in elementary school, when they would do parents day and other family activities where I would love having my mom (she was always the cool mom because she was so young and still dressed like a fun twenty-something year old rather than an ad for Dressbarn) but I felt envious of my classmates who had someone to hoist them up on their shoulders to see the animals at the zoo better, or do the manly tasks at the winter fair.

When I was in high school and got elected to be on homecoming court, the girls were expected to have their father’s escort them down the football field at half time. Although Fred was in my life at that point, I was nervous to see if he would be willing to do a thing that seems like a silly tradition, but at the time was very important to me. He agreed and let me pick out his tie to match my suit, which might have been one of the happiest moments of my entire homecoming experience. I was closing a void that I had felt for so long and was feeling included in the father-daughter circle.

And then when Ryan asked me to marry him, I again hoped Fred would walk me down the aisle and I would have that picturesque wedding I had been dreaming about for the last few years, but things were different now.

He and my mom were divorced, he was married to someone new, and when he came to dinner at our new townhouse one evening so I could show off the decorations that I bought with my “big-girl” job, and cook a meal that I knew he would love, he told me he could not be the one by my side on the very significant occasion of my wedding march.

I was stunned. I forked a sweet potato disc and moved it around my plate as I stared down in disbelief.

He continued his somewhat of an apology speech, saying how he didn’t want to make the day uncomfortable for anyone, didn’t want to rock the boat, but that he would still be there in the front row supporting me all the way.

I clenched my teeth to hold back tears because, in all honesty, my feelings were crushed.

He didn’t want to make the day uncomfortable for anyone, but what about me? Was this arrangement supposed to make me feel at ease? Happy?

The worst part is I never said anything about my sadness. I just replied that it was fine and that Uncle Stu was a better fit for the escort job anyway, since he had been in my life from the day I was born.

And maybe that was true; Uncle Stu has always been the most influential man in my existence because he lived with us when I was a child, and was always my rock and team-mate when I needed any type of support; but it didn’t hurt any less, or make me feel less rejected that my dad did not want to participate in something I felt was so symbolic and important on my wedding day.

We didn’t have an official dance either, and I wrote out any type of traditional wedding stuff (like the bouquet toss, walking in with style, cake cutting, etc.) just because it was a good excuse to explain why the ceremony was so unconventional.

“Oh yes, we just wanted a party-feel rather than a matrimonial celebration.”

That was the beginning of the end of our super-close connection.

I was feeling it for a while, since he moved and established a new life in Jersey, but I wanted to deny it. I wanted to still have the father-daughter bond that I had desired for so many years, but the lack of involvement in the marriage services solidified in my mind that things would never be the same.

So then this weekend, when I saw Jim being “super-dad” I just wanted to cry.

I felt so inadequate. His daughter lives 5 states away, and they seemed so happy and loving, close and full of memories. I was jealous. This is what I wanted and maybe there is something wrong with me that I don’t have it.

Like I said yesterday; I love my family and feel so blessed that I have a wonderful mother, sister, husband, and extended kin, but every girl wants a dad. I want to feel like a princess and be hugged in a way that only a father can provide.

These feelings were harder to deal with than any guilt surrounding a balsamic chicken dish, but since I can’t change my past, or present fatherly situation, I can still beat myself up over a dinner choice, and that is exactly how an eating disorder works.

Since it is not the season to dwell on misfortune, but rather be thankful, I am trying my best to reframe my negativity and focus on the fabulous time I had with my mom and the rest of the “Brady Bunch” clan, but it is also not healthy to ignore the hurt. 

Bypassing feelings is what got me in trouble in the first place, so please remember that although we must find things that are blessings in life, it is also imperative to let yourself grieve. 

It is a significant part of self-care, and that is something I am working on. 

I am thankful for my family and their love, but I miss my father.

At least I am honest.

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4 thoughts on “Dear Dad

  1. I love your honesty and your insight! Ignoring that tremendous hurt in lieu of concern about food is easier, allowing feeling and expression of that hurt is healthier! You are de bomb!

  2. you should be proud of yourself because you have been able to express how you feel deep inside without holding it all in.we all yearn for a dad when not around thus it happened to me for 3 yrs and getting him back gave me a sense of relief and comfort.though you may not have a dad by your side you have a wonderful husband and a new you who has truly come a long way

  3. Oh, you are singing my song. My relationship with my dad is tricky. I actually asked him not to walk me down the aisle. I know that I really hurt him with that. (I feel like I understand how that made him feel after reading your post.)

    Tough stuff. It’s okay to be honest and feel crappy and wish for things to be different. I hope you eventually find the resolution you need and deserve.*

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