“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick
self, so therefore, trust the physician and drink his remedy in silence and
tranquility.”- Khalil Gibran
I know that God is real. You can call it faith, but to me, my life is all the proof I need of His existence. Prayer has always been my way of dealing with life’s struggles, and while I may drift away from it for a time, thinking that I can do it on my own, I always come back to the altar. I’ve prayed for a lot of things in my life, and it’s only now that I see some of those prayers coming into fruition. I am so happy to be marrying Tex- I used to think I would take me most of my life to find my match, if it ever even happened, but I prayed nonetheless. I prayed that I would find someone who loved me despite all my flaws, who would respect me, be faithful, and support my dreams. I prayed that he would be strong but kind, and patient with me when I was insecure. There was a point where I would pray that prayer nearly every night; I was terribly lonely in high school because dating seemed to be all about the surface stuff. Ever since I can remember, I have sought true connection in my relationships, even with friends. I’ve never used that term lightly because to me, friendship is both gift and responsibility. The other night, as I was drifting off thinking of how lucky I am to have Tex, it came to me. A vision of myself as I used to be, in my old room in my old bed, praying myself to sleep after another long journal entry detailing how misunderstood I felt. More than anything I wished to belong with someone, because I never felt like I belonged anywhere else. And with Tex, no matter where I am, I am home in a way that I have never felt before.
My childhood was bittersweet. Mostly I choose to remember the good parts, but there was another side too. My dad was always working. He kept irregular hours. He made a lot of promises to be at things that he ended up missing. Mom and dad fought–or rather, he yelled and she cried. One day in fourth grade I said I wished they would get a divorce so they would stop fighting, and also so that I could see him more. My childhood best friend’s parents were divorced, but they were model co-parents who are friends to this day. Her dad took full advantage of their liberal custody arrangement. Of course, it wasn’t quite the same when my parents finally split. I didn’t talk to or see my father outside of rides to school for about the next three years because I was an angry, hurt teenager. Itcame out during the divorce and subsequent family therapy that my father had cheated on my mother- not once or twice, but multiple times- I was forever scarred. I forgive my father because I’m his daughter, and it’s not my place to hold that against him. But I would never trust him in quite the same way. Of course, I didn’t want to to talk to him! But instead of showing me that he would be there as a father whether I was angry or not, he took the easy way out and blamed it on me. Things got worse when he remarried and didn’t tell ANY of us until the day before. I’d met my stepmom only once and she was introduced as a friend. At 15 I could deduce this probably meant they were dating, but since I literally never heard her name again for the next 9 months I figured it didn’t work out. Imagine my surprise when I find out that instead of spending Father’s Day doing lunch, a movie and quality time with my dad, I was expected to attend his wedding. I refused, and to this day my father treats me as if I hate and blame my stepmom, which I don’t at all.
Fast forward to college, when my dad finally decided he wanted to be an involved parent. At that point, I had accepted the distance between us and resented him trying to be the father he hadn’t been when I needed him. It set up a rocky relationship that has steadily worsened. Time and again I’ve been told I’m ungrateful and only call him when I need something. Can you blame me? I know for a fact that I was a “surprise” child (aka unplanned and unwanted, at least by my father) and he consistently treats me worse than my older siblings to the point that they’ve been completely shocked and appalled by the things he says to me. Any conversation in which I attempt to tell my side of the story devolves into him yelling angrily. I only call him every 10 days or so, but now it’s gotten to the point that I have decided I will not be speaking to him after the wedding. Three weeks ago he gave me a list of 30 more people to invite to the wedding and one of the names was very familiar. But I let it go, until my mom looked at it and told me that the woman was, in fact, my dad’s ex-mistress.
And it all came back.
Once, I was looking for something on the mantel and I found a card. It was pretty, so I opened it. Why? I don’t know. I’ve always been curious to the point of nosiness. I was bored. And the name wasn’t one I recognized. I don’t remember the message…what I do remember is the name, and that it said “I love you” and the woman wasn’t a sister, aunt or cousin I had ever heard of. And I never heard her name again, until my mom said in therapy she’d found two Valentine’s presents in the trunk of the car and one of them was for that woman.
Tex valiantly broached the issue with my father and made it clear that we would not be sending that invitation. And since then, he has refused to pay for my bridesmaids dress for my sister’s wedding, as well as made up a story about my mom’s boyfriend disrespecting his wife. It’s just too much. I can’t do this anymore…on September 21st, I am mailing a letter to my father because I can’t talk to him. He may not read it but at least I will have tried. And then after that we may not speak anymore. It sounds drastic, but after years of trying to please someone who can’t be pleased, what do you do? Surely he doesn’t get to treat me like crap just because we’re related?. . . I don’t want to bring this toxicity into the next phase of my life, and the longer I put up with this behavior the longer he thinks it’s okay. And it’s not. It’s not at all.