To my father,
Signs are springing up all over the place for Father’s Day, so naturally you start creeping into my thoughts again. I used to think about you all the time, struggling with the loss of you in my world, but now I could not be happier; I am grateful for a life without you in it.
I was 6-years-old when you left after cheating on my mother with her best friend. I had to learn of loss, grief and deceit in one fell swoop, and it is only now, when looking at young children of that age, that I realise the impact it had on me. You took a piece of me with you as you walked out that door, a part of my youthful innocence as well as turning me into a textbook case of a child with abandonment issues; I grew terrified of losing those I care for most and it became hard for me to trust men altogether, which has undoubtedly affected my relationships. I now realise I am stronger for it.
Losing you has not stopped me from loving; in fact, I found I loved those who deserved it more deeply. The bond with my mother and sister is incredible, and it is thanks to them that I discovered the strength women could have through anything. I was educated in the importance of standing up for single mothers and fighting for women’s rights, all whilst battling the stereotypes of families like ours, showing that we are far from being “broken”. I have suffered with insecurities about myself after you left, but in battling and overcoming these, I was provided with a greater sense of empathy and understanding for others who may be struggling with similar issues, meaning I can now offer them with the support you did not give me.
Without you, I discovered how important it is to take risks; the easy option is not always the right one, and independence is not a scary prospect. My mother continued to work as a full-time teacher whilst raising us, and her determination to survive and succeed no matter what happened was inspirational. We constantly had to live within our means financially, but it meant that we understood value and appreciated what we had or were given.
Whilst at first I was angry with you, 20 years later I now pity you. All the wonderful things we have achieved in our lives is thanks to us and us alone; it is to your detriment that you have missed out on witnessing the people we have become. Our decisions in life have grown out of empowerment, whereas I now realise yours were out of cowardice, and I feel sorry for you because of this. So Happy Father’s Day, dad – without you I would not exist as a human, but with you I would not be the person I am today. For that I am most thankful.