I haven’t been in the mood for writing too much. If I am honest, I sense myself sliding into a deep pit and my attempts to climb out feel like the dirt is crumbling between my fingers with no way out. In addition to the “busy season” we are in, there is a part of me that has been dreading a day that comes every year in June. Subconsciously, I hold out hope every year that the day would magically go away, but of course, it doesn’t and hits me just as hard as it did the year before. Father’s day is certainly a celebration for the ones who have parented and guided little one’s with love and affection. And while I have been blessed with an amazing Step-dad, father-in-law, step-in-dad, and daddy to my babies, the sting of that missing puzzle piece is still the same.
I have this coping mechanism every Father’s day to concentrate on the good and simply acknowledge the bad, but never dwell on it. It seems to work ok, but this year, I don’t want to push those feelings aside all day, lay my head on the pillow at night, only to be left with sadness that was there all along. The fact is, celebrating the good and grieving the loss aren’t in competition; they can both happen simultaneously, at their greatest potential.
So, today, I want to share with you my grief.
I physically lost my dad at the age of 15. He was arrested for child molestation and I was his victim. The day before his arrest was the last time I talked to him, and knowing what would be his fate the next day and I just couldn’t say goodbye. His little “princess” yearned to give her daddy one last hug before he was taken forever, but the prisoner within her had been released from the hell she had lived for so long and said, no.
Emotionally, my dad left me when I was 7, just two days before my birthday. He was fun and always lived life to experience it. He made routine interesting and always encouraged me to be the best I could be. He was unstoppable at anything he put his mind to, and to this day, I still admire that about him. He took us on adventures that always had life lessons or some sort of skills training. Some of the teachings he instilled in me still help me now. I find myself grieving because in one instant, all of those memories were gone. Sure, it still happened, but not without a black cloud looming over them. Every memory was covered with grime and nastiness that could never be washed off.
Grief hurts. Grief sucks. Grief is unavoidable. Grief is essential.
This is my four thought process to my grieving ways. Pain brings sadness-> Sadness brings anger-> anger brings the logic-> logic brings the gratitude.
When I was 18, I had not forgiven my dad and it was incredibly easy to hate him. I had anger fueling a fire within me, which made it easy to think…he hurt me…I hate him for it. When I finally decided to forgive him, our relationship became messy…mainly since it was a metaphorical relationship because we legally could not have contact. Either way, the mess was there and I was left to either live in it or deal with it. You see, for me, hatred and malice felt good. Those feelings were like a warm blanket to my dry, cold, shivering body. Without them, I would be cold again and I didn’t know how to remedy that problem without my feelings of hate. I couldn’t just walk into Target and buy a nice new one with pretty little unicorns and rainbows and live in a fantasy land forever. No, I was looking at some hardcore knitting in my future. I would need to learn new skills, requiring tiny movements, concentration, and being on guard at all times. It would be scary, overwhelming, sometimes seemingly hopeless, but I could see the end result in my head and it was beautiful.
As I celebrate Father’s day this year, I am reminded that loss and acceptance comes at a cost. The goodness and innocence in life will always be different because I am different. I was born a daughter with a father, but I am now and will always be a daughter without a father. And this truth hurts.
And while I live with this reality, I cherish the amazing men around me and continue to mourn the man I lost. This is my new normal and there is comfort in that. I don’t have to pretend the sadness is gone and I am fully healed. I can be the patchwork quilt, all tattered and torn and still appreciate all the sweetness life has to offer.
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” -A league of Their Own
“To live will be an awfully big ADVENTURE” -Peter Pan