*Warning - I don't know where this post will take me but it has been on my mind and a long time coming. This is a highly personal and sensitive topic to me, so enter at your own risk.*
Father's Day. What a bittersweet day for me. First, let me say I am grateful for my step-dad who raised me. Was he perfect? No. Is any parent? No. Was he the only dad I ever had? Yes. Would he do anything for me? Yes. He IS my dad. It is him who I affectionately reserve the title of dad. It is him who will be the grandfather to my children. That is why when someone asks me who my dad is and I know that they are aiming at my real dad, I want to scream Steve is my dad!! What makes a "real dad"? That is the question? Just because I have N's (let's call him N for simplicity) ...just because I have his DNA does not make him my dad. That is my opinion and I am sticking to it.
If you are fortunate enough to have both of your parents, you stop right now and count your blessings. You are truly blessed in ways you don't even realize. It was February 1992 the last time I spoke to N, my real dad. 17 years ago. Almost half my lifetime spent without him in it. His last words to me were "leave your keys on the table." Before that day, we had never had an easy relationship. It was a relationship full of disappointments. I am sure there is another side to the story but my version is that my Mom was ALWAYS there. She never let me down. Her strength is amazing to me. On the other hand, N was never there. So many moments in my life were spent looking for him and wondering if he showed up. Unfortunately, us kids of divorce, always seem to seek out the love of the parent that lets us down the most. You know the lesson in life I learned from him? Actions speak louder than words. He would say I love you all the time. But did he show it? It is easy to say those words but not as easy to back them up. I am currently struggling again with the topic N, because in my prayer life, I am praying for forgiveness for him. I have to be able to forgive him to find true peace. My bible study leader said one night "if there is someone that came in the front door that would make you want to run out the back door, then you haven't forgiven them." Who immediately popped into my head? N. I would run full speed in the other direction. How do you forgive someone that has ignored the fact they even have a daughter for 17 years? How do you forgive someone that hurt you over and over? How do you forgive someone that is supposed to love you unconditionally but looked at you with pure hatred in their eyes? How? I am praying. I am still not there. In my Bible reading, I do know that God wants me to forgive him, but He also does not expect me to have a relationship that is unhealthy for me. I just cannot after all this time even think about that. I do not want a relationship with him. I don't want him back in my life. I just want the peace that comes with forgiveness. I never want him to have a chance to hurt my future children the way he disappointed and hurt me.
It is ironic to me that the week of Father's Day, N has come up on two different occasions. This is a topic that makes me extremely uncomfortable. I do not normally like to talk about it, but I am trying to work through it. Last Sunday at Kevin's parents church (we are ALL from this small community in NE Arkansas), a random lady comes up to me and says, "I think we may be related. Who is your dad?" Well, great! I wanted to say Steve E., but I knew what she wanted and knew because of my maiden name. Now, how do you say to a complete stranger, oh, I haven't talked to him in almost 20 years???? I always get so uncomfortable because honestly, I feel that I am being judged for not having a relationship with my dad. To me, it gives an opposite impression of who I am. I am with family all the time. I love my family. It is just that family equals my Mom's side because they are my rock, my support system, the ones who have always been there and would NEVER disappear for 20 years!!! How did I handle stranger lady's question? I gave her the name of N that she was looking for. Then she went into relatives we supposedly have in common. UNCOMFORTABLE!! I politely explained that I wasn't really sure who the people were because I hadn't spoken with my dad in years. Then, I was in a haze of 'get me out of here thinking' for a bit and I think Kevin rescued me. This is not the first time this has happened at this church. The difference is the last time, I cried a lot when I got off by myself. So, maybe I'm making progress. I don't really feel like it though.
I often wonder on days like today if I cross his mind. Does he think of me at all or is it like I don't exist? I will never know...all I do know is that I somehow have to find forgiveness for years of hurt and disappointment and let it go. Feel free to join me in prayer about this.
In the meantime, I will call my step-dad who in my heart holds the title of real dad and wish him a Happy Father's Day, because he has earned it. And from now on, when someone asks me who my dad is (even if I know they are looking for the answer of N), I will tell them proudly that Steve E. is my dad. He is the only one who stepped up to the plate to do the job. And, I love him for it!