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Why I Will Never Be Like My Father

April 17, 2007

I’ve been trying to send a reply to an email for what’s got to be months now. And I can’t. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hit reply,…. only to hit delete after typing a full page’s worth of words. There are just some things that I just can’t seem to put into a share-able format.

This email? I’m trying to respond to someone who asked about my relationship with my dad. The hard part is this person knows him, or at least used to know him. And I don’t know what to say. I’ve got this constant pressure that anything I say that’s terrible and negative proves what a bad daughter I am for disrespecting him so,… yet anything else would be a blatant lie. So I sit here at my computer,…. wordless.

The truth of the matter is that I think my dad is a terrible person. For years and years he’s tried to sabotage my relationship with every single other member of my family. How heartbreaking do you think it would be to discover that your dad had methodically lied to your mom, brothers and sisters, and extended family about you, and lied to you about them?

My dad is the most convincing liar I know. If you talk to him, he’ll tell you how terrible his children are, and how we’ve been twisted and manipulated to hate him. He’ll tell you how horrible his ex-wife is. He’ll blame all the problems in his life on the “cult” we used to belong to, on his mother, on his ex-wife, on his children (depending on which one he’s most angry at you’ll get a specific child), on his sister-in-laws, on his boss, on the women who won’t date him, on his doctor, on everything and anything that isn’t him. And I promise you, if you’re not careful, you’ll end up believing him for a short period of time. But only for a short period of time. Because after that short period of time, you’ll realize that nothing matches up, and that not everything he says could possibly be true. And then? You’ll become his target too.

Dad chose not to come to my wedding, or to respond to my invitation, or to even respond to my phone call asking if he wanted to walk me down the aisle. In fact, he told several people that I didn’t even invite him. He did not send a gift or a card, he did not send well-wishes. When I was pregnant he expressed regret that there would be “another Heather in the world.” He insulted and laughed at every attempt I made to be nice to him.

And I did keep reaching out to him. You see, my greatest, darkest fear was worse than spiders or small spaces – it was that I’d end up being like my father. I was afraid that someday I’d get so mad that I’d just snap, and lose my humanity, my conscience. I was afraid that my children would grow up afraid of me,… that there would come a time that they would decide that for their own well-being and the well-being of their children, that they too would have to avoid me. And I prayed that reaching out to my dad meant that I wasn’t turning into a bitter, ugly person like he is.

But after days like today, I know that I will never be like my father. You see, Gabe screamed himself to sleep this afternoon; a result of being over-tired and the ever constant teething. He screamed and screamed, and nothing I could do would soothe him. It was frustrating, and I’d be lying if I said the temptation to yell at him to JUST! BE! QUIET! wasn’t overwhelming at times. But you know what? I looked into my little boy’s angry red face, and there was nothing but love in my heart. And that is why I will never be like my dad. 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tim permalink
    April 17, 2007 3:02 pm

    I love you. And will be home soon to rescue you from the grump. And I always knew you weren’t like your father.

  2. April 18, 2007 2:40 pm


  3. Aunt Diane permalink
    April 22, 2007 7:02 am

    Hey Heather, Aunt Lori told me about your blog for this entry; boy can I relate. I have felt so alone fighting this fight that many of the other relatives choose not to see. I’m hoping my kids will see what you see about their dad also.
    Aunt Diane

  4. April 27, 2007 10:30 am

    how brave of you to put this into writing. parent or not, wrong is wrong and it takes guts to tell what you’ve had to live with. hugs to you

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