Monday, June 20, 2011

Reclaiming Father's Day

Yesterday was a tough day for me.  While the rest of the world was posting pictures on facebook of the men they admire most I had nothing to say.  It's true, I'm now a dad and the day is equally set aside for my little ones to celebrate me, but a big part of the day is celebrating your own father.  I don't have that.  And despite my dad being, probably the worst person I've ever known. ... I still miss that it, even though I have no idea what if feels like.  11 years ago, on Father's Day, was the last time we really spoke.  My parents had just gone through an ugly divorce (which I was shocked took my mom that long to go through with, considering how emotionally and verbally abusive he'd been their entire 28 years of marriage - oh, he also ruined Christmas' for us when he announced he wanted a divorce while we were opening our presents that morning. ... charming).  We'd moved out in April and he went crazy in the following months.  Let's put it this way, he refused to move out of the house, sabotaging the agents trying to sell it, I had to steal my own dog back and our trash cans at the new house were repeatedly set on fire. ... very mysteriously.  Anyway, after my high school graduation ceremony we returned home to an answering machine message from hell that terrified my younger sisters so much they refused to go with me to see him 2 days later for Father's Day.  So I walked in to the lion's den alone.  Apparently I wasn't good enough alone so he only became more infuriated.  Instead of heading off to diner we had an all out brawl.  My entire life it'd only been emotional battles with him, public berating, name calling, silent treatment. ... stuff like that. This was the first time he'd ever gotten physical with me.  What's more, it was the first time I'd ever fought back.  At one point, with him on the ground, I fled the scene.  He chased me down the street as I drove off, just able to make out the picture frame we'd given him as a gift hurled towards me as a final attempt.  That was the nail in the coffin.  I left for Europe a few days later and headed off to college a few months past that.  About a year later he moved to Thailand and our contact has been minimal since.  I tried to make amends before our wedding.  Even offering to cover his flight and put him up in our home.  A few months before the ceremony he came into town trying to work out a visa problem and he agreed to have dinner with me and meet Gina.  From what I'm told by her, when I went to the restroom at one point, he turned the conversation to insulting me and, more or less, trying to talk her out of marrying me.  Father of the year, huh?!  Shortly afterwards he found some reason to make me the bad guy, refusing to come to the wedding, and we cut off communication once again.  But he's my dad.  There's some sort of unbreakable bond there, some need for him to love me and he's fully aware of this power.  He's hiding in the dark looking for an opportunity to exploit that and make me miserable again.  I start to feel this need to relate to him around holidays, especially Father's Day, Christmas and his upcoming birthday.  I feel this responsibility to make amends, to try and love the monster, but when I do I get bit again.  Like a moron I sent an e-mail yesterday.  I told him about the baby on the way.  Updated him on the girls.  All I wanted was a congratulations.  I'd have settled for a "thank you".  But that's not what I got.  I got the wrath of the lion.  5 years silent. ... just waiting for me to walk by.  What's worse is I let him ruin my day.  I let him hurt me when all anyone around me wanted to do was make me feel good.  I won't divulge the entirety of our communique, but his sign off was "I have no family!" ... Well guess what, sir?!  I do.  I have a family, and they love me immensely.  They love me enough to put up with my crap mood yesterday, knowing that you were the cause because they know that I am a better man then you.  I've learned my lesson. ... learned it more times then smart guy like me should need to learn it.  So here's the deal, I'm taking back Father's Day.  I'm taking back Christmas and Thanksgiving too.  I don't need a father anymore, because it just dawned on me. ... I'm man enough for the both of us.  And I think you know that too.


  1. I'm a hugger. And if I ever had the opportunity in the real world to do so, I would give you a gigantic hug.

  2. My father was basically not there for us, but I consider myself lucky that we had a step-dad come into our lives and not only take his place but do a wonderful job. I can't even imagine having to deal with such a toxic situation.

    And you've come out of it the (MUCH) better man and dad. Your kids are lucky to have you because you know what it is to not have good dad, and you'll never make his mistakes.

  3. I'm with Supermommy. I'd do the same.

    I'm glad you are taking your holidays back. You deserve them. Your blog is more than enough proof of your character as a great father.

  4. Having grown up with a few dads (biological, steps, uncle acting as stand in) I have had everything from unconditional love and acceptance to daily name calling and regular beatings. However, I have learned to let go of the pain that comes from remembering and focus on what I gained from the experiences. Horrible parents give you the gift of teaching you what NOT to be and helps you appreciate the good parents even more.

    In my unsolicited opinion, I think you've made the right choice in avoiding your father. If he ever learns to be a decent human being, he will reach out to you. If not, it is him that is missing out on the beauty that is the man you have become and the family you have created. Hugs from afar ...