many of my childhood memories are sketchy, at best. especially those involving my father. some of the memory has been lost to the years, some to the fears, and some to the ravages of addiction. but it's the thoughts of my father that have been weighing most heavily on me recently. remembering my father does not often make me feel warm and fuzzy, instead it usually makes me sad. our relationship was a very painful one most of the time. when i think of him the thing i remember most was wanting him to love me, and to be proud of me. i wanted that validation from him, and it wasn't there. i always felt as if i were a disappointment to him, and i believe that for the most part, as a child i was. i finally got a taste of that validation in the days before he died. i was 17, and i remember he told me that i was a lovely young woman and that he was proud of me. i felt warm and fuzzy. a day or two later he told me he wanted to die. i remember the devestation of knowing he would choose to leave me. i loved him very much, but i needed something from him he did not know how to give. i worked frantically trying to change his mind, i made it my responsibilty to save him from himself. i failed. in the letter he left behind he told me he loved me. in the years that followed i tortured myself with guilt. he finally loved me and was proud of me, but just that fast he had left me. not by a devestating physical illness, but by choice. i don't blame him for the path i chose to walk in my life, but i do believe that that event triggered all of the thought processes that followed for the next 20 or so years. my lack of self worth and self respect. i had no love for myself anymore. a few years ago i heard a song by luther vandross called “dance with my father”, and at first it made me smile because a pleasant memory krept in. i suddenly remembered being very young and standing on the tops of his feet as he “danced” around the room with me. but as the song progressed i got very sad, because i realized how few precious memories i actually had of him, and also that i could never get that back. as i moved into my life i spent many years trying to die, or wishing i could die and sometime in my 30's i headed down a path of total self destruction. i heard the song again the other day and when it first started i got that warm fuzzy feeling again and i smiled, but as before, by the time it ended i was sad. this time i realized how precious a gift life is, and how much time i wasted not enjoying it. trying to end it. what had i denied my own children of that i could never go back and give them? i can't remember if i ever “danced” with my daughters or not. today i am 46 years old and my life has taken a different course. i have grandchildren now. i pray the good Lord allows me the gift of life for as long as it takes to get to “dance” with them. and when i do i will remember it. i miss my father today still and the pain stays as fresh as if it all happened yesterday. maybe thats because there hasnt been a day gone by in almost 30 years that i haven't relived the whole awful event in my mind. i still deal with feelings of failure and inadaquacy. i dont think it will ever go away. but thats okay, if not for the pain, i may never have learned to recognize joy. i am grateful for the few happy times i do remember. i'd rather have had those few than none at all. some of the not so happy childhood memories have faded slightly over the years. i'm glad i had the “dance”.

1 Comment
  1. lynda 14 years ago

    I just read this and it brought memories of how my Dad made me feel so similarly  insecure and never really paying attention to 'me' as a person. He was quite physically abusive and I never though he really liked me. I know he loved me , after all these years (at least he does now , at 81) He was what I now know as a dry drunk; he came from alcoholic parents, yet he didn't start drinking until his 'mid-life crisis' (jerk) … Still a teensy bit of anger and hurt there. He simply couldn't care less if I fell off the earth. Father/daughter relationships are very special and mold the way we act with men in the future (not always good with me).

    Anyway, I used to cry after talking to him on the phone (shallow conversations) and the hurt in me was very deep. Rejection; not a good one for me, ever. I blamed him for any bad things I did in my life and felt I was justified in just going nuts with drugs/booze. I am an artist and was quite successful (before I began drinking in MY midlife crisis… jerk , myself!) It was the only time he really was proud of me and this was in my 30's….. he was 'surprised, more than anything as if he'd thought all along I wasn't capable of anything. Now, I fortunately have him still here and he stopped drinking 25 years ago now and is 81 and beginning to lose it a bit. A very intelligent/witty and popular man, now going under with old age.

    I don't know what I'm trying to say but thank-you for writing this. Very touching and I can identify with alot of it.

    love, Janet (lynda< fake name) 

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