The Absent Present Father


Hero. Superman. Friend…These are words people use to describe their fathers. Of course we can’t forget; deadbeat, absent and evil bastard, but what are you supposed to do when dear old dad fits none of these?

He doesn’t fall into either extreme. He couldn’t commit to any of these types of people because he would then need to deal with the problems and guilt that went along with his choices.

“There are two kinds of people in this world, the _____ and the _____.” The weak and the strong, the intelligent and the wrong, good and evil, etc…etc…etc… Whatever point he was trying to make would be then filled in.

In those conversations, logically speaking, his points were always clear, but ever changing. A decade later you began to keep count and realize there are literally, 100’s types of people. Life is not black and white, always, but a diverse struggle and labyrinth you’re meant to navigate. Now you realize it is your maze to get through alone.

You were told he’s someone you could depend on or not. He’s the head of the household, because he’s the man, but for you…For you he was a person in your life.  He was there, but not present and never when you needed him to be your protector or superman.

Oh sure, sometimes he was there for you, but you could never tell him anything real or depend on consistency. You had tried but he wouldn’t listen or believe you because then he would need to deal with what problem(s) was occurring breaking his delusion of the “perfect family life.” My question to you is, now what? What do you do now?

We have never felt support from my father, as far as my mental health is concerned. Yes, he is my dad. Yes he worked hard to provide a comfortable life for my siblings, mother and myself. I’m fine though and just need to “decide to be happy.” It is a decision, is it not? I’m just lazy and wanting to be miserable. Depression, is a state of mind. Anxiety is a state of mind. Everything else? Yup, you guessed it, a state of mind. I need to choose to be happy and if I can’t then just pretend because I’m prettier with a smile plastered on my face. Well, dear father you must be right, do you feel better now?

Why didn’t I ever think of that? How stupid I have been to not realize that plastering a smile across my worn face made others more comfortable, but me, well I don’t matter much as long as everyone else is happy. I no longer speak to my father about things that really should and do matter. He will never know of my problems because he was there for the beginning of many of them and just told me to be happy or talk to my mother; he loved her first after all. I (we) believed, once, he was our protector, teacher and friend, but that was decades ago. He sees only what he wants things to be and for that I have no tolerance any longer. It is who he is and that’s fine. There is nothing I can do about it. Praying away a problem is good and well if you actually get some additional help when needed and don’t just lay a few hands on someone repeating a nonsensical mantra, but again that’s who some people are.

The psychologist I see twice a week is just “my friend.” My life long black outs, well that’s just in my head. Close, dad close. Unfortunately, now I see that I am worth getting help. I am worth our struggle to wellness both of body and mind.

You are not a deadbeat, far from it. You did your very best, I truly believe that, but it meant nothing to me when I needed you. You’re there for me and my husband these last couple years, but I won’t bother you with my problems again. I learned long ago that all you need is surface information and a fake smile. So now that is what you can have. I gave up because you never did the things you promised. You called yourself my (our) protector and Superman, but you were there and not even a Clark Kent.

You taught me many things. I was instructed on love and hate and logical things. More importantly he taught me what not to be, what family should be but rarely is and to find answers for myself. There are two kinds of people in this world, fathers and those who desire to be called father. Thanks, Daddio.

As always, I leave you with this…It is ok to take care of yourself. It is not easy, selfish or weak. My intent is not to be preachy, but I wish for those struggling to find comfort and healing. These words typed up mean nothing if not read, but make no mistake I am here, living, healing, learning and I am a friend.

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