A little over a year ago, I saw my dad for the first time in more than 10 years, which does not say a lot as before that I had not seen him since I was about 8. Like many children, I grew up without my dad. I knew he existed and for a large portion of my childhood I “created” this phenomenal dad persona for him that I would tell others when they started talking about dads. I firmly knew who my dad was and what he was not to me, but that did not and does not change how much I love him. Even in the millions of lies, he told me, I still unequivocally had faith that this time, it would not be a lie. I remember one day he told me he was coming to get me, I packed my bags and I waited for him ALL DAY. I stood outside on the porch with my suitcase, ready and waiting. My grandma constantly told me, he wasn’t coming but I held fast to the idea that he was; he didn’t. Matter of fact my grandma always reminded me of who he was, constantly. That constant reminder caused a bit of distance between us because it affected the way I saw her. As an adult, I know this was love, but as a child, I saw it as her rejecting me, because after all even if I did not fully understand it, my dad was part of me and to reject him and bash him was also rejecting and bashing me. That is a topic for another day.
Anywho, regardless of the millions of disappointments I had with my dad I have always loved him. He did not have to be super wonderful or anything, I just wanted him to be my dad and in my life. I had abandonment issues as a result of his absence and the inability to manage what I was experiencing as a result of it. In my adult life this manifested in a myriad of ways, but nonetheless, I still prayed for and loved my dad. Fast-forward to about 18/19 years ago, my dad re-entered my life this time without the lies. Initially, it caught me off guard because I expected every statement to bounce like a rubber check, but they didn’t. He made good on his promises or he would avoid making a promise by saying, “I am not sure, let me work on it and get back to you”. That was almost perfect code for “Nah, I cannot do it, I want to but I cannot and I do not want to let you down.” But, I was ok with that, because I went from no communication to routine communication. Now, I could have very easily lashed out at him for being a deadbeat and a habitual liar, but I chose not to. I was so grateful that he was in my life that I chose to focus on what he was doing right, and eventually understanding that intention was more important to me than the outcome. For years, I prayed and God worked on my heart and his because at some point we began to talk about the past. He expressed his anxiety and immaturity and the constant condemnation he imposes on himself about not being a better dad and for subjecting me and my siblings to his many sins. I reassure him constantly, that my family is not under that curse and I have forgiven him. I reassure him, that I am eternally grateful that he knows my children and they know of him, though I pray they have the opportunity to get to know him.
There are those who will read this blog and feel like I am not wise for the approach I have chosen, others will read it and sympathize, and some will empathize. I recognize that I have not always made the best decisions and I have been forgiven for many, many things – who am I to not to extend grace?