I remember several years ago I was sitting outside on the back deck at my dad’s (read as his new wife’s) house. It was Father’s Day. My dad took a picture of me. I didn’t smile. I was angry. I blamed him.
For ruining me and every family I ever knew. Him and my mom split. Him and my step-mom split. And I didn’t want to get to know someone new.
I’m no stranger to divorce and relationship changes but I typically still resist my parents’ new partners. My mom and dad separated when I was a toddler and both remarried. I had a time with their new partners throughout elementary and middle school. But, eventually, I loved them.
In high school, my dad and step-mom brought up divorce. They probably should’ve went through with it then, but parents are always doing what they think is best for their kids — so they waited. My senior year of college they decided to actually initiate their separation. Maybe you’re thinking that I was grown at this point and shouldn’t have been impacted. But I was. I really was. And I couldn’t even begin to imagine the pain my younger brother felt. Is still feeling.
So I blamed my dad.
I felt like he lived in some kind of fantasy world where there were no consequences to his actions. Where we weren’t impacted and could just move on and create new bonds immediately. Where we didn’t deserve an explanation. Contrary to popular belief, your divorce isn’t only grown folks business.
But what I blamed him for the most were the pieces of me that were just like him. So I hated him and I hated myself. This made it more difficult to forgive him. More difficult to forgive myself. So, then, I tried to empathize. Tried to talk to him without the anger. I still felt misunderstood. I don’t even know what I expected to change. But nothing did.
Some days I don’t want to have kids. I don’t want to create little replicas of my own trauma plus some. I don’t want to pass down generational curses of infidelity, addiction, “do as I say, not as I do”, or “what happens in this house, stays in this house”. There is this spoken or unspoken rule that our family issues are our own. That we can’t bring up what we’re going through to anybody outside of our nuclear family unit. That it will bring shame and dishonor to our family name. But it breeds the inability to communicate our issues. It makes us hold in our emotions. It hinders us from healing.
Today, I’m changing that. Happy Father’s Day.
Before I wrote this, I was thinking about how much has changed in our relationship and how despite all of our issues, I’m so grateful to have my dad around. He shows me in his own way how much he loves me and I know it could easily be different. I’ve lost my grandfathers. Which means my parents lost their dads. I see how hard it has been for them. To everyone who has lost a father or grandfather, I pray for your strength.