Recently a friend from the writing community reached out to check on me. She noticed I haven’t written a blog post in a quite awhile or posted anything on social media. It meant a lot to me that she noticed and took the time to ask if everything was okay.
The truth is I have been absent.
A few weeks ago my sister texted me that she received a notice in the mail. It was from a funeral home and it was looking for relatives of my biological father. When I saw the letter I felt instant confusion and panic. I felt in shock and in denial. These feelings were not brought up from a sadness that my father might be dead, but really dredged up mixed emotions and bad memories from a mostly non-existent relationship.
I really didn’t believe it was him. It was his name and his birth date, but initially I thought there must be some mistake. After a few phone calls and finding an obituary online I knew it must be true. Another confirmed call to his parents and they knew he was dead – they just didn’t care. “No loss here,” were the words of a father who lost his son. It’s no wonder he ended up the way he did.
The reality that he was dead sunk in a few days later when it truly hit me. Grief is very strange. I felt denial, anger, sadness, and guilt – all within a span of a few days. The hardest part for me – if I’m going to be honest – is knowing how young he was and that he was alone. I felt sad that he died alone. I felt sad that his own parents disowned him.
But why do I feel guilt and sadness for a man that treated my mother and my brother and I so poorly? Why do I feel sad for a man who really made no effort to be apart of my life? He hurt countless people. He hurt all of his children and left us all.
I am grateful that my sister and brother have a wonderful man in their life that they can call father and that is very good to their mother. And really I have a great father-figure too in my friend David who has been around since I was thirteen. Technically I have known him since I was about five since he was a close friend of the family before my mom and he became a couple. So why do I feel anything for the man who ruined his own life?
The life he lived and his death are mostly due to his own choices. The saddest part for me is he could have lived a different life and shared it with people that did love him. I did love him, because he was my father, but just because you love someone doesn’t mean you can have a healthy relationship with them. My only hope is that he is finally at peace. And now I know he will never send me another incoherent message while he is drunk again. That chapter of my life is over.
The last few weeks I have been processing this and how I feel about it. I shared this news with only a few people in my life up until now. It feels really awkward to be upset over a person who was barely in your life. Most people don’t understand that type of grief.
But I know – as with most things – if I open up and write about it – I will feel better. It will help me to accept it and move on, as much as I am able to do so. I don’t know if you truly ever move on from unresolved hurts and relationships in your life, but I suppose I will find out.
So this past week I spent visiting family for Thanksgiving and processing these feelings still. It was nice to just enjoy the moments and not focus on writing or taking pictures. But I do miss my writing community and hope to get back into a routine of sharing my life, advice, and heart with you. If I can help anyone else by opening up then it is worth it to me.
If anyone else has lost an estranged parent, I understand how you feel. I share in your grief. And know that I am open to anyone that needs to talk or share if they feel like there is no one else who understands.
I don’t want pity or sympathy. I don’t need to hear I’m sorry from anyone. I just wanted to share what is going on in my life right now and why I have been absent. I will be okay. Thank you to the friends and family that have been supportive.
And know – for future reference – even those of us who lose a parent who was not very present in our lives – your support can make a world of difference. We still hurt. We still lost someone – only this time it is like ripping the bandage off an old wound. We can use your time. Your love. Your kind words and support.
So this is goodbye to the man that was my father. He was once said to me, “Without me you would have nothing. I gave you the life you live.” He was definitely drunk then, but he wasn’t completely wrong. Without him I would not exist. So I guess thanks for that. I know my life is in my hands and can be whatever I make of it. He really never gave me anything, but my physical existence would not be possible without him.
Here’s to taking that ‘gift’ of life and being a good person. Being a good wife. Being a good mom. Here’s to loving and helping, not hurting. Here’s to growing and changing, not sliding into ruin. Here’s to having a positive relationship with my children and watching them grow up. They know I will never leave them. They know I will never choose anything over them.
Here’s to healing and forgiving. I will do my best.