I haven’t given any real thought to Father’s Day in years. It was my mother who brought it up in a phone conversation that made me think about it yesterday.
It wasn’t much of a conversation. She mentioned it was Father’s Day this weekend and I said June was a busy month, it seemed something was going on every weekend.
My father died about 20 years ago and he doesn’t figure into my life much anymore, except for how our relationship helped shape my personality. Al any parent does whether they’re present or not in a child’s life.
I remember when I first realized that I didn’t like my father. I was in my mid twenties and I didn’t really know what to do with this new revelation. I tried talking to my brother about it, but he didn’t get it. He couldn’t understand what I was I was saying. It didn’t come up again.
I grew up fearing my father. He was an angry and violent man who seem to enjoy humiliating and denigrating others. I know now, by the stories he told of his upbringing and his time in WWII, that he most likely suffered by PTSD. Witnessing his anger made me afraid of my own anger. So, like many women, I learned how to repress it. It seemed the safest thing to do.
I know now that repressed anger can easily lead to depression and co-dependence. And I have suffered from both.
This is part of the legacy of my father.
Were there other things, good things? Yes. I grew up in a post WWII suburb. We always had food and clothes. A clean house, a pool in the back yard, three-week vacations once a year. My mother was always home when I came home from school and the neighborhood was a safe one.
I don’t blame my father. He had a difficult life and his own demons to deal with. But I can’t say I love him either. And honestly, my life became easier, when he was no longer around.
As far as I know, I’m the only one in my family who feels this way. But I understand now that people in the same family can have very different experiences and memories.
My father had a lot of friends and many people liked him. When he died, a 9 year old boy, who he got to know towards the end of his life, left a baseball on his grave.
For a long time I thought there was something wrong with me because I rejected the family lore about my father and what a “good guy” he was.
I don’t doubt that other people saw him that way. But it was not my experience.
And I know now that I have the right to feel the way I do without apology. That I feel the way I do for a reason, and it’s not because there’s something wrong with me.
Did he love me? I don’t know. In the past I would have said yes, but I have a different idea of what love is than I used to.
I used to wish I had a different father. But I don’t think that way anymore. It’s not an option. And although I haven’t always felt this way, I like who I am now. I like my life. So it doesn’t really matter much anymore. Acceptance is easier now that I feel good about who I am.