Without understanding we can’t learn. We can’t grow from something we don’t understand. We can’t move forward. It’s a hard thing to do. To sit and truly face what makes you who you are. To face the inner demons you have lurking behind the mask of happiness and tell them that you’re not going to let them win.
I’ve often felt like I’m not good enough. I’m not worthy of the love and praise people give me and logically I know this to be a false sentiment. That I am worth every ounce of energy someone puts into me. That my short comings do not make me less worthy of love and attention than anyone else. However the feelings still hover in the deepest parts of my mind coming up as a faint whisper whenever someone compliments or shows affection towards me. They say a daddy is a daughter’s first love. If this is true the only way for me to rectify the untruths I was taught about love is to understand how my father made me feel about love.
My father. The drug addict. The exuberant felon with a zest for life and a light everyone wanted to be near according to my mother. She says that’s where I get my light from. That when he walked into a room his smile could light up the darkest corner. He would give the shirt off his back to someone else in need. He would have been a great father had his hunger for drugs and alcohol not been so overwhelming to him. Had he been strong enough to fight the urge to trade his family for a needle and the next high.
My mother packed up her entire life and moved from California to Michigan with a 7yr old, 4yr old and 1yr old in tow attempting to pull my father from his addictions and people who wanted to harm him for monies owed. For a while she says he did really well. He had always been a hard worker and a loving man when he was sober. But that was a short lived life as the burdens of family life became too much for him and he reached for anything to take him away from it all.
I was taught at a very young age that I was not worth more than the high he craved so deeply. He traded giggles, snuggles and family movie nights in for drugs, alcohol and prison time. I must have been too hard to handle even at such a young age. Too hard to love. To hard to please. Too hard to stay and be present for.
The last time I saw my father I was 4 years old. My nana had taken me and my sister Lacey for the summer out to California where she lived and he took us overnight for a few days. I remember my grandma Cae mostly from that visit. He must have lived with her or maybe the agreement was he could only have us if she was with us too… I remember being jealous of the little girl who lived next door who apparently had a relationship with my father in which she would smile bright and repeat some rhetoric and he would reward her with a dollar and a pat on the head. I remember the cigarette burn mark in my favorite 101 Dalmatian sweatshirt from where he held me a little too close while he was smoking…. but that’s really all I remember of him.
Throughout my school age years I would receive inconsistent letters or hand drawn cards from him. I would pretend didn’t mean anything to me but in secret I kept them each safely tucked in a binder with protective covers. I would flip through the pages looking at the beautiful artwork he must have spent hours drawing just for me. Reading the words about how God was speaking to him and that he was taking his time in prison to educate himself, finishing his high school diploma and getting right with the Lord and me, his daughter he claimed to love so deeply.
Inevitably the cards and letters would dwindle down to nothing shortly after being released from prison. The drugs had lured him back and away from his daughter who apparently didn’t matter unless he had nothing better in his life. Always second to the women who could entertain him and drugs he could score to make life seem so grand.
In my very young adult life he had a significant amount of time, 3 years maybe, that he stayed sober and stayed in contact. He would send hand drawn birthday cards to my two oldest and even called every couple of weeks. Maybe he found a reason to change. Maybe this contact would help him see there was more to life than drugs. Maybe I would be enough. Maybe his granddaughters would be enough to make him long for his family and create a better life,a better relationship with me. But again, the calls came less and less and the cards and letters eventually ceased to exist. I found out he was back in prison, back to his old ways.
I burned all the letters and cards I had so delicately saved for 20 years. I was able to speak my peace to him over the phone and to make a resolve that I would never let him get that close again! I shut down all communication and refused to be that ignorant again. To never have the moronic notion that I could be enough. That someone could love me enough to want to do better, want to be better.
After many years of therapy and self discovery I do know logically that addiction is truly a disease. That I have no power over anything he did or didn’t do and that his choice to choose drugs over that little green eyed girl who adored him had absolutely nothing to do with her. I know this in my mind. I know as the woman I am today, I understand I am worthy of love. That he has no power over my self worth.
But the woman I am today is not who I’m trying to heal. I’m trying to heal that little girl who saw her daddy leave and never come back… I’ve forgiven my father for his transgressions and I do not wish him any harm. I hope he can more forward with his life and continue on the path of self healing himself. However the seed is planted deep in my heart. The seed of discontent. The seed of disappointment and hurt. The seed of self loathing that if maybe I was better behaved, more successful, prettier, smarter…. the list goes on and on… maybe if I was everything he wanted from me, maybe he would love me enough to be present. The little girl inside me cries out from time to time and whispers in my mind, “you’ll never be enough”.
so, when he comes to me with the wonderful news that he gets a second chance. A chance to right his wrongs. A chance to be a better father to a new child growing in the womb of his girlfriend who she herself has addictions she is only 60 days sober of. That little girl begins to cry out and whisper those horrible negative thoughts that I’ve worked so hard to shut down…
congratulations Danny and Brandie. May you fill this child with the love and security s/he needs and show him/her that they deserve the world and everything good in it. May you feel peace and healing and are able to move forward into a sober life together and choose life and happiness over addiction. I pray that you stay sober and clean not for that innocent child or each other but for yourselves because doing it for anyone else will inevitably lead to failure.