Hi. How are you?
What a silly question to ask. You will not answer, because we have not spoken for many months. You have decided that it is best we are not a part of each other‘s lives, and so, suddenly, I am a fatherless daughter and you are… well, I am not sure.
I cannot quite figure you out, and without being able to talk to you, I have been left to figure out a lot by myself.
They say that girls who have bad relationships with their fathers have “Daddy Issues.” I loathe that phrase, for many reasons. Mainly, for me it brings to mind a certain weakness in the girl, a lack of character, a girl that needs a “daddy” in her life to be an authority, a controller, or a guide.
These so-called “daddy issues” makes me think of a spoiled doormat that wants to be pampered, and princessed, and set upon a plump cushion while a man takes care of her and makes all of her decisions.
I don’t need that.
And I never did.
And maybe that’s our issue.
Because I wasn’t the weak one, Daddy.
I never was.
When I have been successful, and when i have shone, our relationship has thrived. Because my successes were an extension of you. I was a prize, a trophy of your hard work and of your extraordinary gene pool, perhaps.
Or maybe just of your excellent parenting.
But when I failed, it was a reflection on your own failings.
Your own weaknesses.
And instead of confronting those demons, you cut me out.
Dropped me like a hot potato. Just like I have been the mirror that showed a beautiful, proud reflection of what you wanted to see, I have, at times, become the mirror that you cannot stand to look into.
The truth that you cannot stand to face.
I am everything you wanted me to be, and nothing you ever expected.
I am my Own.
But in being that, I stopped being Yours.
From the beginning, I defined my own life. I decided how it was going to go. Who I was going to be. I saw the truth when others could not. Often, particularly when others could not.
And you chose to hide.
You hid when we needed you. When mommy needed you. When uncle needed you. When everyone was sick and no one was well and everything was sad and falling apart, when up was down and right was wrong.
You hid when I needed you.
In fact, you threw me away, like so much unwanted garbage—terrible and rotten, not good for anything, and better left god-knows-where than in your home. Our home.
“It is better when you are not here.”
Yes, Daddy, it was. It was quieter, in your home, without me, because no one was there to point out how completely fucked up things had become. How a day didn’t go by without tragedy or horror or pain.
Years passed, and I thought you softened, a bit. People got better, or they left us, and time seemed to heal many things, as time does, sometimes.
But there is a wound between us that it seems can never be healed.
I am Other. I am My Own. I am not an extension of you, of your accomplishments, your beliefs, or your failings.
You cannot see me, and you cannot accept me, as me.
And by doing that, or, more correctly, not doing that, we will never be able to see each other, truly. I will always struggle to be recognized as a person in my own right—a person with her own thoughts, and values, and beliefs. Did you ever think what it would be like to open your mind to me without preparing yourself to argue against me, or judge me, or consider what it meant for you, of me as a reflection of you? Did you ever pause to look at me, and think:
“What does she see when she gazes at the stars so intently?” or “Why does she spend so much time with those kids? What does it give her heart?” or even “What does her heart tell her? I hope it sings.”
Did you ever, Daddy? Did you ever wonder who I was, or why I am?
Since I was small, I have struggled with this wound. I tried to heal it by being the best in school. The fastest reader. The prettiest girl who competed in the pageant, and could be the skinniest, and the smartest, and the most best at all of the things.
So that you would see me, for a me that you would be proud of.
And I realized, one day, after the last time you left me.
I had a nervous interruption, and I asked for your help.
I didn’t need money—I have that, you see.
I didn’t need a white horse—long ago, I found that horses could be fickle, particularly ones carrying princes.
I needed a hug. Love. Support.
I needed my family. My daddy.
And you dropped me, like a bad penny.
And for you, I am.
And I realized.
When you see me, you see demons. You see the failings of your life, the imperfections, the places where you went wrong, the mistakes that you could not correct.
And it’s ok, because you are not seeing me.
You never have, and you never will.
You are looking into a mirror.
And I can neither break it nor take it away from you.
You cling to it, like a shield.
But I wonder, often (every day, in fact), what it would be like to have a Daddy who didn’t need a shield.
Who saw me.
Who respected me.
Who thought I was worthwhile.
Damn it, Daddy, I wish you could think I am awesome, even when you don’t think I am right.
And I don’t want you to be afraid, anymore.
Of me, or of life.
We don’t have a lot of time left.
You are growing older, and my wounds are healing over.
(some, with a lot of scar tissue).
Wounds can be healed, but only with proper care.
I can bring the band aids, but I need you to want to heal, too.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard