in an effort to make an extremely long story extremely short (as best as the complexities of familial bonds will allow): i have never had a great relationship with my biological father.
i’ve never even had a decent relationship with him.
or any kind of relationship.
as a matter of fact, when i was in 4th grade (right before he and my mom divorced), i asked him to sign a contract that stated he would no longer be my dad. he declined to sign. it didn’t matter to me that a used envelope covered in crayon wasn’t admissible in a court of law; i just wanted him to acknowledge my disapproval of his parenting.
see where i’m going with this?
with the exception of a few holidays and one agonizing summer, my sisters and i never really saw my dad during our childhood. he has always lived out of state and schedules, work, school, yada-yada… there was always an excuse on either end.
the summer after my senior year of high school, i finally got up the nerve to write him a very detailed, castigating letter in which i spewed forth years of irritations, disappointments and frustrations. i think the grand total was five pages, front and back. something like that.
weeks went by before i got a response.
and then, a letter.
he was sorry that my boyfriend broke my heart, but that it was probably for the best; he knew it took a lot of courage to write what i wrote; he understood why i felt this way, but…
he wasn’t the only one who failed at our relationship.
with that, i tucked the letter in the back of a book. every once in a while, i would unearth it with the hope that time would expose some sort of underlying truth or grand revelation.
the last time i read it was about four months ago, when i was packing up my books to make the trek from marriage to single adulthood for the second time in my life.
and, as i sat in the floor of my soon-to-be former house and my soon-to-be former life, i realized why the letter never gave me any peace.
why couldn’t i move on from this? why couldn’t i chock it up to a series of missed opportunities and coulda-shouldas?
because staring back at me from those pages was someone just like me.
the string of failed relationships, the stubborn independence, the reckless disregard of consequences, the wanderlust.
that is my dad in a nutshell.
or, rather, that is me.
i spent so much time chastising the person he is, that i never realized how much alike we are. how the road i have traveled has had many of the same hills and valleys as the one he chose.
and, i tell ya, there has never been a more painful or irrefutable epiphany than that one right there.
if only i knew what to do with it.