I always try to avoid talking about my father. Not many people know the true dynamic between the two of us because it’s too complex. My closest friends don’t even know the real reason why we don’t get along; they just know that the subject of “him” is a sore one. I kept my true feelings tucked away like a secret that I was immensely ashamed of. I somehow always managed to hide it pretty well, until one of my roommates would catch me sobbing uncontrollably or barricaded in my room for days at a time. I never wanted to burden anyone else with my problems. I didn’t know how to explain twenty-six years of toxicity in only a couple of breaths without sounding like I was ready to completely unravel. The cliché girl with “daddy issues” is never a label I wanted.
My entire upbringing was filled with tyrannical outbursts, verbal cut-downs, explosive fits of rage, and irrational insults being hurled my way. I was constantly being told that I would amount to nothing, that I would never be good enough, that nobody would ever love me, and that I was essentially worthless. My father took great pride in diminishing my self-esteem and never missed an opportunity to tell me how insignificant I was. He would regularly tell me that I should kill myself, that everyone would be better off without me, and that he regretted ever having me in the first place. While this is just the watered down interpretation of the verbal abuse that took place, the real life version is riddled with a seemingly never ending supply of expletives and obscenities.
Everything for me changed the day I had a child of my own. My father found out what hospital I was staying at and showed up unannounced and certainly unwelcome as he demanded to see his grandchild. I made it very clear that he would not be allowed at the hospital or even be allowed to know where I was staying, but he bullied his way in like he always does and tried to take control. He made it past the hospital staff, unaware of the situation and up to my hospital room door where I turned him away. In his standard fashion, he didn’t leave without a fight, screaming profanities and horribly degrading insults at me at the top of his lungs in the middle of the hallway of the hospital’s maternity ward.
I was so embarrassed of what had just unfolded. This was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, and was now forever tarnished by this vile man hurling violent expletives outside of my hospital room door. From that point on, I vowed to never allow my father the opportunity to treat my child the way he treated me all my life. I knew it would only be a matter of time before the emotional abuse started trickling down to his grandchild, and I would not let that happen. I look at my little guy with so much adoration and can’t fathom how anyone could mistreat their child the way I was treated.
It has been a year and a half since I gave birth to my beautiful little boy and a year and a half since I have spoken to my father. He has never accepted any responsibility for his treatment of me, and remains firm in completely disregarding the fact that I even have feelings at all. I don’t expect an apology from him, but at the very least I hoped that he would acknowledge how his behavior has been tremendously hurtful to me over the years. But there was never any ownership taken on his part for his actions, so I stopped hoping. I have accepted the fact that I don’t have a relationship with my father, and my son won’t have one with his grandfather, and that’s alright with me.
In the grand scheme of things, I really feel sorry for my father. He is the one who has to meander through life unhappy all the time. He is the one who never could understand that his daughter grew up to be a well-rounded person, in spite of his torment. He is the one who will never see how being a mother has changed me for the better, and how a sweet little boy gave me everything I ever needed to be okay. He is the one who will never get to see my incredible, intelligent, vibrant little boy learn about life and grow into a better man than he ever could be. He is the one who is missing out. These days, I finally have something that my father can’t tarnish, and that is true happiness.