Thoughts for Fathers’ Day from an estranged child

There are many things I will never tell about my relationship with my estranged father. But there are things I need to say as Fathers’ Day approaches. Some people will know the things I’m posting below, others won’t. This isn’t one of those posts where I want people to say “I never knew”, or “I don’t remember that”. I’d like to remind anyone who knows me and reads this post that there are many faces and many different recollections of what happened during the first 23 years of my life. There is no guilt in this post, there is no longing for a reconnection, in fact it’s the culmination of many conversations with SJ about our childhood and the realisation that my wonderful childhood friend saw a lot more than I ever knew. We had our ups and downs as most teenagers did, but I’m grateful that no matter how different we’ve become, SJ and I are still good friends.

There are things I will be forever grateful to my father for, despite the pain that was caused over many years. Things that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I’m focusing on the good of those things and not the negative, recently I’ve started to let go of those emotions that continue to drag me down, and whilst I doubt I will ever be able to forgive, I can certainly heal my own heart and soul.

My love of Science Fiction – the truth is I grew up in a house that either had Mum’s soaps and Disney films on the television or Science Fiction shows and films. I grew up watching Star Wars and Babylon 5, Stargate, X-Files, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and so many others. He didn’t watch all of the shows I watched, but Sci-Fi has always given me an escape and those hours when he was out of the house when I’d curl up in my room with the latest episode of Stargate and or X-Files were the ones that gave me the strength I needed. The one thing he never allowed in the house was Star Trek, he called it inferior to Star Wars, well I’m now almost 32 and I can honestly say that he didn’t know what he was missing.

It’s that love of Science Fiction that has lead me to meet the women who spoke to me from those screens, to look at them and say ‘thank you for giving me someone to look up to, who reminded me that I was never alone and could be anything I chose.’

My love of reading – Mum didn’t read. She cooked, baked, listened to music and I vaguely remember her reading to my brother on occasion and possibly to me, but she never had the love of books that I have developed. Books were his domain and because of that I went on adventures with The Famous Five and The Secret Seven, dove into books of far off places with Matilda, rode in the BFG’s ear with Sophie, followed Alice down the rabbit hole and so much more. I still love the smell of books, the feel and the texture, and now though I read more on my Nook for ease, my favourite times are when I have a paperback in my hands and a quiet afternoon on the couch, in the park or in bed, just losing myself in those fictional (and now also non-fictional) worlds.

My love of writing – in his youth, his poetry was published, and I would pour with awe over those words in the poetry anthologies that he had written. Of course, looking back at it, the poems weren’t that great to begin with, but it spurred something inside of me, and now, I’m finally moving away from fanfiction and attempting to get my words, my worlds, into print. It’s a scary and wonderful time in my life and as much as a part of me is loathe to admit it, that comes from knowing he has been published. My non-fiction piece was published in the Kicked Out anthology and now I want my passion to be published as well.

The knowledge that if I have children, they will be treated equally and with love – It was rare for me to get a brand new present for Christmas or birthday as a child, I can count three occasions where my main birthday or Christmas present wasn’t second hand. One was because Mum didn’t believe in buying her children second hand bikes because she couldn’t guarantee how safe they were. My brother on the other hand got every present brand new. And it wasn’t as if our money situation had changed at all. I was well aware of the way in which Mum calculated every payment each week and just how little we’d have left. The grocery shopping never went over budget because there were always things to pay for. Meals were set on certain days and I suspect it’s one of the reasons that now as an adult I try to avoid setting days for certain meals. But no matter how broke we were, my brother still got his brand new presents and I settled for second hand items. I don’t begrudge my brother these things, it wasn’t his fault, but it has made me determined that if one of my children gets something new, so will the other. I’m not saying I didn’t love my presents, I did, but each child should be given equal opportunities.

I’ll also never expect more from one child than the other or praise them more because of their activities than the other. Just because you understand your son better than your daughter is no reason to ignore your daughter. Just because you have a daughter, does not mean you should expect her to do more around the home than your son. 

Kicking me out for being me – this may seem like an odd one to be thankful for, but it gave me the chance to evolve as my own person, taught me more about relationships (romantic and otherwise), life and the world than I would have known otherwise. It also taught me that for some people I will never be good enough. Although I should have learnt that particular lesson with him a long time before hand. Those people are not needed in my life, and I’m learning now to accept the ones who see in me what I can’t yet see. The ones that tell me daily/weekly/monthly/once in a while, that I am worthy.

There are so many other things I could go into here, how not to treat your partner, how not to bring your children up in a house full of tension, how much I love acting, how much I wanted to run away and start my own life, how to respect difference not to be disgusted at it. But the truth is, the post would be very very very long if I did. Tomorrow I will do as many activities as possible to block out the day, although I’ll post on two Facebook walls to tell the men who showed me how a father should behave, a happy Fathers’ Day. There’s a hole in my heart where that father should have been for me, but this year at least, I have a way to cope that it’s taken me a long time to work out.

 

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