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I held my best friend’s hand and said, “Okay, on the count of three, we run. One, two…”
“Michelle…” I heard a man’s voice stating hesitantly.
My body shivered with a coldness that froze my legs and ran up my chest, making my heart skip a few beats. I knew who he was even though I didn’t remember him. My heart knew. I wonder if our cells recognize our family through the connection we have with their energy? Something told me who he was; I’m not sure how; I just knew.
The last time I saw my dad, I was almost six years old. Not-so-fast-forward to being almost 18, he showed up for what felt like the first time, even though it wasn’t. All these years, I couldn’t remember his face. I hadn’t even tried.
My mom was gone from this Earth; he wasn’t. But, to me, it felt the same. But my mom was the one who passed to heaven or back to the universe; I didn’t feel like judging her or questioning her. I loved her with all my heart.
My dad was a different story—he was alive and not present. So I blamed him, judged him, and resented him for being the one who didn’t die. I know this sounds cruel, and it was, but this was my way of dealing with two different types of losses. One was unfixable; the other one wasn’t. But it felt equally impossible to solve.
What dads represent in our lives:
Some dads represent abandonment and distrust toward men that we carry for most of our lives.
We don’t even feel like we miss them. Honestly, maybe we don’t remember them that much. (I chose not to think about mine.) They vanish from our minds and hearts. At least, on the surface, they did.
Maybe we wanted them to feel the pain we have felt? Maybe we want them to see that we didn’t miss him—didn’t need him. (The truth, for me: I did need him.) We need our dads—they are a precious part of who we learn to become.
Dads provide protection.
Our dads are our heroes, the men who protect us. The ones we feel safe around. If dad is there, we feel safe to fall from our first bicycle because we know he will catch us. A dad is a beautiful example that we can be disciplined and loving at the same time.
Dad is our role model.
Dad is the first person who showed us how we should be treated. Psychologists and therapists say that when we grow up, we search for partners who reflect our dad’s personality because it is what we know, what we learned as children in our first developing years. We look to repeat the pattern—to relieve the experience. So yes, it is important for dads to show us what a gentleman acts like.
Without his example, we might grow unsure of what respect and love look like. I bend toward men’s wills because I didn’t know it was healthy to have boundaries. If we know what it was to be daddy’s princess, we won’t grow up trying to be someone else’s. Having male attention won’t be so enticing and wonderful that we try, at all costs, to fill this absence, replacing it with men’s attention.
Some of us may have “daddy issues” if our father was absent. And, yes, this is attractive to men who see it as an opportunity to basically do whatever the f*ck they want with us. We look for protection, yet we put ourselves in demeaning, hurtful circumstances.
We get our strength from our dads—one way or another. If he wasn’t there to protect us, to guide us. We learn to do it ourselves. His absence makes us stronger.
I am grateful for this. They are part of who we are. They directly shape our character.
If he is with us, he portrays an image of strength, and this, combined with our mother’s tenderness, adds to the adults we become.
Dads usually have to keep a roof over everybody’s heads and bring protection and food to the table. (It’s no surprise when they are the distant ones.)
We cage them into roles that are limiting to the beautiful, vulnerable, and strong humans they truly are.
They are expected to provide for our present and future, to be caring, loving, and a part of our lives as much as possible.
“How was it for him to live his life without his children?”
He was strong. He never lost faith that we would see each other again. And we did. Twelve years after. He was in front of a payphone, looking at the time on his watch. Knowing he waited all this time and that I would probably want nothing to do with him, and yet there he was.
And he has been in my life ever since. It took more than a thousand bumpy-as-hell roads, but I can finally see how important he is to me and how much I needed him and his love in my life.
I can see so clearly that he did the best he could. According to how he grew up, his circumstances, his level of consciousness (can you tell I have been on the therapy road? * insert wink *), and his capacities at the time.
I wish not to be judged, to be understood, yet it was easy for me to judge him because he is my dad. Yes, he is my dad, but he is also a human being with a tender heart.
Why we need our dads:
>> We can’t have healthy relationships with men if we don’t heal the relationship with our dad.
>> We will continue to date emotionally unavailable, disrespectful men until we are ready to face the first man we ever knew, our dad, whether biological or not.
>> Living a plentiful life includes honoring where we come from—our roots. Mom and dad gave us life. Their blood, energy, and love live within us. By honoring them, we honor our existence.
>> A dad shows us our first words.
>> We learn what hardwork is from him, that his arms are a safe place to search for care, for understanding, for guidance toward our life.
>> Dad can show us resilience, strength, responsibility, perseverance, and bravery. Bravery to bring another human being to this world and do the best he can to be there for us. To provide for us (and maybe not to let go of loving us, and to wait 12 years so he can see us again and tell us how much he loves us, how much he wants to be in our life).
They say no one can love us as a mother would; well, they aren’t wrong. But no one can love us as our dad would. There is no replacement for either of them in our hearts.
My friend Sharon DeNofa said it best:
“A mother has unconditional love for her children. No one will ever love us as much as our mother. But a father carries a special unbreakable bond with his children. Especially a father and his daughter. She is his reason for living. She is his purpose to protect. She is his motivation to cherish.”
Every dad is our teacher.
I am grateful we gave each other a chance. I honor you and respect you, dad.
Having you present in my life makes me realize I always needed you.
Dad, you taught me courage by overcoming what was necessary for you to come back when it was easier just to stay away.
You have taught me to believe that you had a burning fate that led you to find me—no matter how long it took.
Your example showed me a dad’s love. I know what it is to not give up on those you love. I know this because you didn’t give up on me.
I love you, Dad. And, yes, I will always be your princess. You, thank god, will always be my Dad.