ALTERNATE TITLES: 'Untangling a Complicated Father/Daughter Relationship' or 'Ways to Ensure Your Daughter Ends Up on a Pole or in Someone's Bed'
  1. I've spent my entire life trying to make sense of this relationship we have, one that riddled me with a profound amount of sadness.
  2. At some point letting go of the expectations/hopes/wishes of a different hand of cards is the only way to move on and attempt a happy life.
  3. This is for anyone who grew up with a less-than-ideal father...
  4. I look at my family life as pre-stroke and after stroke, although neither were particularly happy. I was 9 when it happened.
  5. One month after his 40th birthday, he had a massive stroke that left him as barely a shell of what he used to be.
  6. Pre-stroke, I just remember his anger and always being uncomfortable in the same room with him. I did whatever I could do to avoid him.
  7. After the stroke, he all but gave up, quitting all of his therapies, content with heading home to "recover".
  8. That never happened though. The stroke left him partially paralyzed on his right side. It affected his mind, emotions, speech, movements, everything.
  9. He was far from the same person. His frustrations at not being the person he once was led to anger and more frustrations, which were all taken out on us.
    My mom was only 38 and had to make an attempt at holding things together. She was cheated out of the life she thought she'd have.
  10. The years passed with what felt like chaotic turmoil, constant fighting, and a lingering dark cloud over the house. I retreated to my room using music as an escape, wavering between sad and angry, and barely a day went by where I didn't end up in my room crying from what he said to me.
    What can I say, I'm a sensitive soul and the things he said were mean.
  11. When I was 16 and could finally drive, I spent as much time away from there, either sneaking out or just lying about where I was going.
    I needed the distance. And I sought my own tribe with mostly people that were older than me.
  12. I found myself blindly navigating through life trying fix a problem that ultimately can't be fixed, and definitely not with the way I was trying to fix it.
  13. It's more than just missing the childhood window of time where those all too important years are the ones you have to show up for.
  14. Later in life some wrongs can be made right but ultimately, it's too late. The damage has been done.
  15. **No man can love you enough to make up for the love your father didn't give you. Ever.
  16. It's too late when the father doesn't even know or care that he's checked out. At this point I don't even think he can help it.
  17. It's hard when the only thing that matters, the only choices he continues to make have nothing to do with you.
  18. He all but gave up that day and gave up on us. I know that partly he couldn't help it. His brain was changed forever. But still, I wanted him to try.
  19. He's had moments of kindness, and he still does, where he's mustered an interest in something in our world, but those moments flit away just as fast as they come.
  20. The older I get the more those moments remind me that he's human and he got dealt a shitty life hand, too.
  21. I got to a place where I realized I can't hold onto the anger and the hurt because I'm the only one that it leaves damaged. He's not the father I wanted or needed, but he's the father I got.
  22. You can either carry those hurts into every relationship you enter for the rest of your life wondering why you're never getting what you want or need, or you can choose to let it go.
    And spend a whole lot of time working on yourself. It takes years of therapy. Trust me.
  23. At some point you have to take responsibility for your actions and quit blaming it on your past.
  24. It took me a long time to get to that point. A long time of making mistakes looking for that unconditional love, affection, attention, and loyalty in other men when it's not their burden to bear.
    Granted, I was also involved with the wrong men. But my issues are what led me to pick them.
  25. There is no man out there and no sum of men that can make up for the damage of a father that isn't present. None.
    Physically, emotionally, whatever.
  26. When you grow up without it, it's all you find yourself wanting in life.
  27. Hell, it's still all I want, it's what we all want, but learning to be okay with myself was enormously freeing.
  28. Years ago I got to a place of clarity about it and forgiveness. When you let it go, you can finally move on and have a functional relationship.
  29. I still have moments of sadness that that's all our relationship will ever be, but I don't let it rule my life or my actions anymore. It is what it is.
  30. These days, our relationship is me setting up his DVR or fixing his iPad. That's the best it's going to be. You can't change people who don't want to change or think they need to.
    And that's okay.
  31. The father/daughter relationship is one of the most powerful dynamics and when I witness a good one from the outside looking in, it still kicks me in the heart, but ultimately, I know I'll be okay.
  32. If you're a father, I hope you make a point of not just being there, but really showing up. She deserves it and so do you. From where I'm standing, it looks pretty damn magical. She'll be lucky to have you.