I have always been, and probably always will be, a daddy’s girl.
My mom tells me that from the moment her and my father brought me home, me and my dad were close. She says I would cry all day until he got home and she says he took me with him everywhere he could.
My father came from a very chaotic and abusive home but he wanted to do better. He stuck with my mom, in the beginning, and helped raise me but neither of them really knew how to be parents. They didn’t even know how to be in a marriage.
Although my dad was good to me, he wasn’t so good to my mother. I remember they fought all the time, really bad. When I was young I didn’t understand what was happening and I thought it was normal. I thought all parents yelled and screamed at each other.
I think my father was hard on my mother. I know he cheated, I know he left her, and I know he was not much help to her after he left. When I was an adult he told me he just didn’t know how to be a husband. He also said that he wished he had treated my mother better. I think he will always love her a little.
After the divorce I would see my dad whenever he decided he wanted to see me, which didn’t seem to be all that often. Or at least it didn’t feel often enough. I missed him a lot and I was angry that he was gone. I didn’t understand why he had left and I blamed my mother for running him off. She never told me any different until I was much older and could take the truth.
Whenever, I did see my father we had a great time. He took us out a lot, especially around his friends. I remember thinking my dad must be so cool. He had so many friends and he was always going to these bars and parties. He was also always bringing home another woman.
He would eventually start getting serious about a few of these women and I have a couple of siblings from two of his other relationships. Neither of my step-mothers liked me and my sister much then since we were nothing but living reminders of my dads old life. I always felt like they hated to have us around and couldn’t wait for Sunday evening when we had to go back to our mother.
We didn’t even see him every weekend. I’m not sure exactly how often we did but even he admits now that he wasn’t there as much as he should have been. The sad part was as little as I saw him my other siblings saw him even less. I feel really bad about that.
It’s weird how as sad as I was that my dad wasn’t around, for some reason my young mind never thought to be mad at him about it. I still loved him very much and looked forward to seeing him whenever I could. I always secretly hoped he would come get me when things got bad between me and my mom. I wanted him to come save me from my mom who I thought hated me. I did end up living with him but not the way I had hoped.
You see, as I got older the effects of coming from a broken home became more apparent. I began to act out. When my mother got tired of me (the first time) she sent me to live with my father. I was about 14 years old.
I think this is about when my father’s alcoholism started to take hold. He had so many friends and I remember he was always going out, and leaving me home alone to fend for myself.
I remember that he never called to let me know he’d be late and I worried about him a lot.
I remember once he was gone for two days. When he came home I told him I had been worried. I told him he would’ve been dead in a ditch somewhere and I wouldn’t have known.
He told me I didn’t have to worry about him because he was an adult.
I remember once I woke up in the morning and there was a strange woman he had left on our couch and he was already gone.
I don’t know what my mom expected to happen but I continued to act out while living with my father. Looking back I don’t know how they expected I would ever do better with even less supervision and direction than I had had before. I guess it wasn’t completely his fault, he didn’t know much about raising a daughter, let alone one that was going through puberty and acting out.
So of course he sent me back to my mother. He said he had tried everything and didn’t know what else to do. He even asked me what he should do. I didn’t want to go back to my moms but I didn’t know how to be be better either. I’m not sure he really tried everything though.
I remember feeling bad that neither of my parents seemed to want me.
Years later, when I was 18, I lived with my father again. This time wasn’t much different than the time before, except he was drinking even more.
I didn’t really know what alcoholism was or how it effected a person’s health. I just remembered that day when I was 14 and my father told me not to worry about him because he was an adult. So I didn’t.
Then I remember vodka bottles in the trash every morning.
Then he got a DUI. Then another.
Then he lost his job.
Then we lost our apartment.
Then he was in the hospital and the doctors were saying he had to stop drinking or he would die.
He didn’t stop drinking and over the next several years my father went to jail, got into a good rehab program, graduated, and has been sober ever since.
There a lot I’m angry about and I’m not sure if any of it is worth bringing up anymore. He’s doing good, I’m doing good, and the past can never be changed. All we can do now is try to move forward and build a better relationship.
I still love my father very much and I think he knows this.
I just hope he also knows how proud I am of all of the progress he has made too.
Image: A photo of my father from February 1986. I would’ve been just shy of 1 years old.