Last year, my pastor asked a question I still contemplate to this day: “Does your relationship with your earthly father affect your concept of God as a heavenly father?” That week, I journaled the following:
Monday, October 25, 2020
…When he said that we may be approaching our relationship with God much like the one we have with our own father, it pierced me a bit…I think about how little reliance and dependency I have on my father, or the fact that my dad and I lack so much intimacy. When I start to think on how can I build that intimacy – at this age, it seems hopeless.
Hopeless is right.
In my attempts to build a relationship with my father, I would accept my brother’s offers (or mostly volunteered), to go to his house for impromptu family gatherings. At times, my father was no where around. Sometimes, he’d be there, and offer nothing to the conversation. Other times, I got to see my father’s genius – he’s a talented musician that’s able to play music by ear. I would play a song for him – he’d only need to listen to the song a couple of times in order to pick up the chords, and I got to sing along while he strummed the guitar. Sometimes, he would share a story about our family. But most times, he was absent. He’d disappear from the house for hours, unable to be found, and I must admit, after taking a two-hour journey from the Bronx, to Brooklyn, and then to Long Island, I was disappointed that he wasn’t present. Here I am, making a frequent effort to travel for a man that has only come to my house three times in the past seven years.
Despite his lack of presence in his own home, I did take advantage of the space to learn more about the nuclear unit on my father’s side. I relished in the mini-getaways and constant celebrations, but those same stirrings in my heart came back. “Where’s Daddy, and why isn’t he here, in his own home, with his family?” What I thought was personal, I now understood to be a character flaw. If I questioned his whereabouts, he would tell me a vague story (I was at the store…I just ran to get some gas), and follow it up with, “Why didn’t you call me to let me know you were coming over?”
Call me crazy, but somehow, in the middle of a pandemic, I might have unfairly expected my father to be right at home, enjoying the presence of his family, joining us in the festivities.
My stepmother’s birthday weekend was special for me. For the second time in my life, I got to have a sleepover with my family. The lack of time that we’ve spent being in each other’s presence created a disconnect for me, and I was happy to be able to travel with them – to spend time just being.
I’ll tell you one thing I do know: my father can surely sour a good moment.
I’ll tell you another thing: I fed right into his foolishness.
I began to see my father’s ways in little vignettes – the squabbles he picked with my siblings and stepmom, his lack of consideration for others even after being called out – it’s as if it was in his nature to get under people’s skin. Maybe I hadn’t really considered how much it hurt watching those moments, and watching my family take it in stride. It would be an argument we had in Dunkin Donuts that I would learn my father’s selfishness knows no boundaries. “How do you put up with this man? How have you not left him yet?” Is a question I posed to my stepmother. Her advice: “I know he gets under your skin. He gets under mine. Ignore him.”
My father asked me to take my “offensive blog” down, and I told him no. Here are some of the things he said to that:
- I’m writing the host to get your blog taken down. It’s offensive slander. (Write them…Did I lie?)
- This is personal family business. (It’s my business)
- You wouldn’t want me to write about what really happened Thanksgiving with Bradley…you were the only one with him all day, and then he just dropped dead like that? What if I told them what happened? (Wow)
- No one even reads or likes your blog. (Makes no difference to me)
- You’re only doing this for attention. (I need no such clout)
- You’re ranting like a young child. (Trauma will do that to you)
- You make it sound like I was never around. (You barely were)
- You have psychological issues/you’re crazy. (I very well may be)
- Does your mother read this filth? (She’s an email subscriber)
- What if I wrote about how you’re a shitty daughter? (I would repost it with pride)
- You work with kids at the department of education. Don’t you care about your employer seeing you as crazy? (That’s not where I work)
- Are you ready to throw away 32 years? (I’m not willing to repeat 32 years of this)
- If you don’t take this blog down, you’re going to lose your whole family. (That’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make – family, see letter below)
I’m grateful that I responded and didn’t react. That’s growth. For the first time in my life, I didn’t respond in anger. I listened. I listened to my father say these things about me, and I was able to come to peace with the fact that I am finally choosing myself. If my father wishes to be stuck in his ways, so be it. I don’t need to be present in his life to continue witnessing his self-destruction and willingness to make everyone else miserable. There’s no peace in that relationship.
I refuse to allow my father to continue bullying me. I refuse to keep suppressing my pain and destroying myself in the process. In order to grow, you’ve got to let go.
I thought I could continue for the month with a series of stories about my father, but to continue feeding this man with the energy he gives is hopeless. I want nothing more to do with the situation but to allow my Heavenly Father to handle it.
It is in God’s hands now.
These words may be difficult and challenging for some of you to read. According to my father, speaking my truth about my experiences will cause you all to abandon me. I pray this is not the case, however, I understand the choices you have to make.
I will not take it personally; I have too much respect for all of you, and I thank you all for the love you’ve shown to me. I can’t tell you what to do, but if you were to ask me, “Why did you do this?” Here’s what I would say:
Transparency and vulnerability are my strengths. I am using my creative outlet to be transparent and vulnerable about the harm my father caused me. It’s not for clout. It’s to inspire others to begin to heal from the things they can’t reveal because of our society’s toxic message that these issues are private family matters that should stay private. I choose to release and pray that there’s a reader who can find the strength through my words to surrender their burdens and cast their cares upon the Lord. My path was directed to write this blog.
I pray that people are inspired to confront their own alive, but absent parents, or to make peace with their toxic parents no longer on this side of the Earth. Most importantly, I pray that in my journey to find healing, I am strengthening my resolve so that when I am ready to create my family, we are whole and healed using God as our GPS and make choices that do not mirror the harm experienced from previous generations.
This is why I write.
If my father’s words are accurate, and this is your only interaction with me, then I thank you for all the love you gave and showed in the times my dad could not. I thank you for the great memories; you were a blessing. I pray for your peace. He may be our connector, but I value you all individually, and will continue praying for your happiness and strength.
Maybe I am growing, because that’s what I wish for my earthly father as well. I wish him peace. I wish for him to turn from his evil ways and be convicted to acknowledge his past so that he can be healed in this lifetime. That takes courage and a strength unparalleled. It takes stepping outside of himself to see how his actions impact others. It takes some character building that I pray he can apply, however, I am not interested in waiting another 32 years, or even one more day to see this come to fruition.
I am moving on. I am learning to choose myself over making others happy, and I love that in my life. I love the woman I am becoming.
Family, if my father’s words are right, I wish you peace and love. Thank you for your presence. You all helped me understand that even if he couldn’t show his love past an expression, you all just loved me in a way I never had to question. I am sorry this is where we depart from one another. May we all be blessed enough to feel God’s love – may we all be grateful that He’s not my earthly father.
Until we meet again.