I have been working on this blog post for a few years now. I’ve been waiting for ‘the right time’ to hit ‘Publish’. I thought a birthday would be special, or even Father’s Day- instead, I’m choosing tonight, as I lie awake with my stomach sick and my head spinning with the thoughts of what I’m about to share. It is so emotionally wrenching that I have never been able to complete this entry, until now. It might be ‘too much’, but in some ways, it’s my plea, my truth, my confession. I feel compelled because I am a grown woman, I make my own choices, without placing blame on those who have caused me harm or disappointment. I do not seek anything but my own will to move forward.
One of the most important relationships between two people is the one between a father and his daughter. I agree with the studies that show the opposite-sex parent has a great impact on future relationships for children. I believe that the one relationship in my life of many, that has affected who I am the most, is the one I have with my father.
My dad, Marijus, was raised in a European family. I didn’t know my grandfather well, but I took notice how my dad would work so hard to receive praise from him. Their relationship seemed all work, no play, little laughter and absolutely zero affection. As a daughter, since a very young age, I have always been aware of these things- this spastic heightened sensitivity to observing feelings- that these transactions were difficult for me to comprehend. It wasn’t in the cards for me to inherit this non-emotional way of living, and I’m sure it terrified my father. In a way, it helped me accept the fact that I wasn’t ever going to receive the abundance of love and affection myself and, I too, would spend my life yearning for the exact things he missed out on. I felt so sad for him. I was sad that he would never have the chance to hug his dad again, or tell him that he loved him.
Growing up, my father was never the warm and fuzzy cuddly kind of guy. He has always maintained a roughness, in looks and attitude, with such a prominent mustache, I wouldn’t comprehend its absence. He’s the reason I love motorcycles (not sport bikes), listen to Led Zepplin and CCR, can drink Gold Schlager…
Our time together turned me into a tom-boy…I know how to build a proper campfire, I’ve gotten steal splinters, I don’t own band-aids (according to him, smear grease on a cut and you’re good), he’d wake me up before dawn to go snow plow with him and push the snow so high so I could build forts, and he gave me my first tool box (and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve helped move his that’s 100x heavier than mine, just saying). His method of teaching me how to drive standard was to bring me to a hill during rush hour and said, “drive!!!” He’s direct, to the point and can’t be bothered with any canoodling or soft delicate speak.
It makes me sad that he hasn’t seen much further into the world than his own backyard. He has worked so hard all of his life, that part of his growth has been stunted, in my eyes, because he puts such a greater importance on excelling in hard work- however, I know that’s where I got my drive to succeed. Every time I want to complain about anything really, I think about my dad who has always worked as hard as he physically could, no matter the reward (or lack of it). If there is one person that deserves to put his feet up and relax for the rest of their life, it’s him (even though he’d go and build something in that time no doubt).
There are so so many things that I admire…
He moved in with my grandma when her cancer worsened. He took good care of her. He was there with her when she woke up in the middle of the night. He was there with her when the chemo made her sick. It’s an entirely different experience when all that you think you know of your parent is challenged by real life. He became someone I’d never seen before, but knew in my heart, was there all along – that sensitive, humble soul.
It has been very difficult for me to see glimpses of this sensitive, unconditionally loving, affectionate person towards others with very little left for me. When I said that I had to come to terms with the fact that my father was never going to boast, praise or show affection, I didn’t realize just how mentally taxing it was going to be.
We have been through so much together. We have seen the very worst of each other. I have always been loyal and held him on the highest pedestal. I have been very patient, just as he was with his father, for some sort of reciprocation. I find myself making excuses for his lack of effort to be the type of father I’ve needed him to be. I have always accepted what he did and who he was, loved him anyways and moved on, even if my best interests weren’t considered. I have been such a good daughter. I could have been so many other things, but I’ve always been good, kind, sensitive, loving, loyal, determined- I’ve realized that I’ve always been so in hopes of affirmation and praise from the one guy I could barely get any from.
I am at a stage in my life where I am not far from having a family of my very own and I am trying to navigate through what is and what will never be- what to let go of and what to cling to with white knuckles. I will have the chance to love the way I needed as a little girl. I will make it right and be okay. There are many many factors that define the way we view ourselves and our relationships and I am more confident in who I am than ever before. Life is too short to be angry, not to show love, to be bitter, not to hug, to go without. Maybe I do have ‘Daddy issues’ after all, but they will never ever prevent me from being ‘Daddy’s Girl’. And he will not die without knowing that.