I spent a lot of time and energy wishing my father was different.
It just felt so unfair. I grew up believing he was a god. So much so that he actually convinced me that he would never die. I know that sounds silly. Certainly, I didn’t “fully” believe he would live forever, but I did think he would be “that guy” that no matter how hard he pounded his body, that he would somehow survive longer than the rest.
In my teenage years, my family fell apart and my father changed. He started spending his time with “unsavory characters”. 100% of the time there was some random “recovering” heroin addict around.
One time I went camping with my dad and his new blonde friend, Melissa. She was my age. She had my name. We had the same long blonde hair. But the difference here was that my father’s Melissa, if we can call her that, had to shoot heroin into a vein in her ankle before we headed out to the beach.
This was just to be expected. I thought that I needed to deal with that if I wanted to see my dad. I guess I kind of did if I wanted to experience family, as twisted as it was.
I spent a lot of time and energy wishing my father was different. I wished he would go back to that man I used to think he was. I kept thinking if I wished hard enough or long enough that somebody was going to come along and put their hand on my shoulder and say,
“You know what, Melissa, you're right. We're going to fix your dad up and give you the dad you deserve.”
I felt like I had been cheated somehow. This thought and these feelings got so tight like a ball of rubber bands contracting my heart.
And all that I could really think was,
“Keep NOT being okay with this and somebody's going to come along and right this injustice for you”
but nobody ever did.
The last three months of my dad’s life were spent in a hospital bed. He fell in and out of his mind. One moment he would speak to me as if I was his little girl and the next he would speak gibberish. But those days are precious to me because I was able to control what I could never control before. No druggies or drunks around. No women who lost their children to the state. Just my dad and me. I played make believe that I got that “fixed dad” that I deserved.
But when he passed away, I felt like I was mourning the death of two.
I cried for the dad I lost in the hospital and I cried for the dad I lost when I was 18.
Now, here I was “all alone”. No dad, good or otherwise.
I felt very alone. I had no family to “remember the good times with”.
“I am all alone” is all I could think and feel. I felt it to my bones. Alone.
I spent a lot of time arguing with the past. I couldn’t let go of the idea that I had been ripped off.
I would focus a lot on what I didn’t have instead of focusing on all that I had.
I told the story of “being alone in the world” so much that I believed it. I felt it. I could not get past it. I would ruminate on it. I tell anyone who would listen,
“You don’t understand what it’s like to be me! How could you? You have a kind mother who says sweet things about you and a dad that has 100% less heroin addict girlfriends than mine.”
It came to a point in which I could stand myself no longer than I decided to seek help. My coach told me that I had to mourn the loss of my dad AND who I wished he could have been. I had to bury both of them in the dirt and put them to rest.
I needed to let go of the idea that things could ever be different because I wasn't allowing myself to move forward.
When I allowed myself to process through the grief and the stories, I let go of those grindy thoughts that were keeping me stuck. I really freed myself.
It was painful. Psychically painful but it allowed me to heal from both losses. And the truth is, I am not alone. I have a wonderfully supportive/put up with my shit husband who is madly in love with me and healthy happy children that such blessings. I have a lot to be thankful for but I couldn’t see that when I was holding so tightly to “the nuclear childhood I wished I had”.
I get it.
It feels scary to let go of the idea that someone's going to change. But if you will allow the truth to sink in, you can experience the grief that the lies were protecting you from once and for all. You can let go.
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