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Why I Can't Deal with Daddy

I think I finally understand why my father makes me so mad. It’s because he doesn’t know how much his indifference to me hurts. Please understand, I didn’t want him at Granny’s funeral because I didn’t want to deal with the rejection and pain he provokes in me. But the fact that he traveled all the way to Florida to be with my sister in her time of need while just sending flowers to me in mine just magnifies the differences between my sister and to me. I know it’s probably irrational, but it’s still very hurtful to me.

As I told you, I didn’t meet my father until I was 22 years old. It wasn’t his choice to know me. Instead, his sister forced me on him. She contacted me after hearing me on the radio and invited me to Christmas dinner. I went out of sheer curiosity, and I sometimes think it was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.

Those of us who grow up without a father always fantasize that the man who contributed half of our DNA will love us unconditionally like parents are supposed to. We want to believe that the reason he hasn’t been a factor in our lives has more to do with circumstances beyond his control and less to do with his complete disregard of our existence. In other words, we’d like to believe that he’ll be the daddy we need.

My father quickly shattered that mess when he greeted me with a handshake and a question – “So where are you now?” – like I was some kind of business associate. I was taken aback, but I played the game and answered his questions. Over the years, I’ve tried to express to him that while he may be something special to his adoring public, to me he’s just another man to reject me. In fact, I once told him that he was rejection personified to me.

On the other hand, my father met my sister when she was four-years-old. Even though she grew up in Florida, she was able to forge relationships with his family. She sends her children to Grandpa’s house in the summer, and his mother had my sister’s picture on the wall with her other grandchildren. While I’d like to think that I’m above jealousy, I think there’s a little twinge there because she was blessed to have two families that loved her.

My sister doesn’t really understand why I feel the way I do. She and my father both think I’m way too bitter about the situation. Maybe I am. If you were the child whose picture was relegated to the back of Grandmother’s drawer, you might be a little bitter, too. If your father took the time to get to know your sister, who lived over a thousand miles away while ignoring you when you lived less than an hour away from him, it might hurt your feelings, too.

Even thought my father is technically a member of my family, in reality, he’s a stranger who really doesn’t know who I am. I guess I could explain it to him, but I don’t think he really wants to know. I remember a conversation we had about his sister. He was like, “You know that she’s got cancer, right?” My response was, “How would I know? You didn’t tell me. Let’s face it – when things happen in your life, I’m not the first person you think of, and when things happen in my life, you’re not the first person I think of.” He must’ve been taken aback by my statement because I didn’t hear from him for at least six months.

If I’m honest with myself, I probably avoid the hard conversations with him because I don’t want to turn him away. Even though he bothers my very soul, on some level I want him to want to know me. When we spoke yesterday, he told me to contact me the next time I’m in Texas so he could come get me so I could spend the day with him. If I were a wide-eyed four year old whose whole world could be made right with an ice cream cone and an all-day sucker, that might’ve impressed me. Now it just sounds absurd.

I wish I could look at the situation with my father through my normally rational eyes. Instead, I find myself feeling like a ten-year-old girl who’s been promised a date with daddy. When he doesn’t show up after she’s waited by the door all day, she can’t understand what happened. Her child-logic deduces that she must’ve done something to keep her father away.

When this girl becomes an adult, she finds herself settling for less than she deserves and rationalizing all kinds of disrespectful behavior in the name of having male companionship. Unless she gets some kind of outside intervention, she’ll always find herself on the short end of every one of her dealings with the male species. The killer part of it is that she probably won’t understand why.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why my father and I don’t have the relationship I want and need. I’m not saying that like this is the end of the story because I do believe that the day will come when he and I can get past this. It’s not today, but thank God there’s always tomorrow.

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