My father and I are not very close.
We have a very awkward and emotionally void relationship yet at the same time we care deeply for each other. It’s hard to even describe it. We have gone through many rough times against each other over the years, but the father-daughter bond has remained intact with forgiveness despite the hurdles we’ve had to overcome.
Now that I am older and a parent myself, I see my father through a whole new set of rose-colored lenses. Without even knowing it, he has become a beacon for the way I live my life.
As a young girl, my father had a Hulk-like presence that promised protection and safeguarding. He even had the personality to match. People were naturally drawn to his charisma and charm. I was simultaneously intimidated by and fascinated with him; intensely curious about how someone so hard-shelled could also be so warm. Such a complicated man.
As I grew older and life changed for him in many ways I couldn’t understand at the time, his presence grew darker, more formidable. I saw his rage more often than his love. As much as I admired his dedication to providing financially for his family, I began to fear my father and see his size as menacing, not calming.
Still, he was my father and I couldn’t help but hold onto our bond in hopes he would become a better man one day.
I came to resent my father during my teenage years for his inability to connect with me and even hate him for his overbearingness. I wanted nothing more than to prove to him that I was undeserving of his cold-heartedness and loveable by everyone but him. I fought back with rebellion against his strict order and high expectations.
I began living up to the labels I was given out of anger: liar, thief, failure, hellion, tramp, and crazy. My father only continued on being harsh and condescending, never giving an inch. Over time I began to wear down from the constant back and forth between us and decided to leave home, ready or not. Leaving the place where I grew up was the hardest thing I had ever experienced. I loved my father as much as I despised him and giving up on having the relationship I always dreamed of having with him broke my heart, but I knew deep down that it had to be done.
My father was not going to become the good man I expected him to be.
What I didn’t realize then was that my father was always a good man with the best of intentions. He just ended up on the losing end of the battle he was fighting against his personal demons, for awhile.
With kids of my own and a lot of life lived since I was a child living under his roof, I realize now that my father wasn’t the monster my innocent, naive mind mistook his struggles for.
He wasn’t as callous and cruel as my sensitive self interpreted him to be when I knew nothing of the world yet. My father was simply struggling with alcoholism to drown out his own issues and cope with the life he made for himself. He made many mistakes along the way. He was far from the perfect father, but he tried. He gave us all he was able to give. In the moment, it never seemed to be enough, never seemed like he was trying at all, but I was wrong. He gave us so much more than we ever realized.
Regardless of what was going on inside his head, my father persevered and lived to fight another day.
Day after day, he got up and went to work every single morning. He never called in sick, no matter how sick his illness made him feel. My father worked hard without complaint. He did so to make a comfortable life for his children, no other reason. No matter how consuming his issues became, he always took care of his responsibilities. He always held it together when it counted most.
It just so happens that home is where we let it all hang out, and that’s just what he did. No stranger ever would have guessed my father was battling for his sanity during that time. He made it look easy to swallow the demons down out of sight, if only temporary, and do what needed to be done for his family. That is one helluvah good man in my book. Not many people can put others before themselves sober—let alone while suffering the wrath of an addiction to alcohol. Or any substance, for that matter.
My father inadvertently became the man I look up to most. The one I follow when I can’t seem to find my way. We may have grown apart over the years more than we have ever come together, but he still remains a key player in how I live my life.
There is nothing I wouldn’t do, give, or sacrifice in the name of my family. Nothing that will stop me from providing my kids with the best life possible. Most importantly, though, there is nothing that will hold me back in life.
If my dad could fight his battles while taking care of his family the best way he knew how, then I have no excuses. I can overcome whatever adversity comes my way—sometimes it just takes a little inspiration from the superhero I am lucky enough to call my Dad.
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