I grew up vowing I would never – never – ever be like my dad. He’s not a terrible man; he’s just done some terrible things. But since high school, when the admirable image of my dad disintegrated and I began to use my mind to really understand what was going on and what he was doing, everything about me wanted to be everything he wasn’t/isn’t. Just anything but him.
My dad and I have had a pretty tumultuous relationship, if the above paragraph doesn’t make it apparent. We have many many differences, from him not allowing me to wear sandals to school or paint my nails in high school or sleep over friends’ homes or my wanting to travel alone or my bad habit of posting on my social media accounts (he’s paranoid about my sharing too much lol little does he know…). He has something to say about anything and everything just for the sake of saying it and they usually weren’t my favorite things to hear. I hated him at one point and wanted to hurt him and his quality of life. Which is why I didn’t think twice about piercing my tragus and rook, getting my tattoos. They definitely irritated, agitated, frustrated him and they still do; he’s asked, pleaded, and demanded me to take out my piercings and remove my tattoos.
It’s gotten much much better over the past few years. No, I think the more appropriate phrase: our relationship has transformed over the past few years. We have been able to connect on deeper levels, talk about our family issues, reconcile some differences (mostly agree to disagree) and get closer in general. This has been happening more often over dinner and hangouts with just us two and I can tell he genuinely enjoys hanging out with me – who wouldn’t? Hahah I kid. I see these changes, the transformation of the man he’s still becoming, the restoration of our family as he is being restored, and I’m grateful. I think, next to health, peace at home is the greatest gift, and I feel incredibly lucky/blessed to be able to watch peace be restored in my father, my relationship with him, and our family as a unit.
However, none of that prepared me for the unexpected pleasure I felt when someone likened me to this man who I had only been able to speak of with curse words and spitting anger and disrespect several years ago.
The family and I had gone to a dance competition where my brother was performing with his high school dance team. As we walked in, we sort of got drifted apart as we searched for the team’s area. The other students’ parents were all there and through the volunteer events, I had gotten chummy with most of the parents. However, they had pretty much never seen my parents. As we approached the area the team had staked out, one of the parents gave me a hug and asked, “Is that your dad over there?” and pointed somewhere behind me. I said yeah and without my asking how she knew, she said, “I knew it, you guys walk exactly the same.”
Those words entered my ears, tickled my brain a bit, slid down the distance of 10 inches, and nestled themselves in my heart. I had never heard that before and I had not expected myself to feel what I had felt: pride and, even less expected, wholeness.
Seriously, I let it sink and went on with the day, but seven months later, that is the single most prominent moment that sticks out from that day (that and the team winning first lol). Out of the crowd, someone who had seen me no more than can be counted on my two hands, recognized I had the same gait as my dad. I may be overreacting, which happens about 100% of the time, but I was amazed and so deeply proud to be identified as the daughter of this man. I felt a sense of wholeness because I no longer felt at odds, at war with my blood, with someone who had a part in making me, who I carry within me. It was such an inherent wholeness, a feeling that comes from within out of overflow and peace. I guess the best way to explain it is, it was the first time I realized I am at peace with someone I had seen as my prison ward and life-ruiner. Lolll yes, I sound like a 13-year-old. I don’t care.
Today, I see my dad and know he is a human being and a man trying to do better, a father with a broken history and story of his own. I’m proud of him, I’m proud to be called Daughter by him. I’m glad he is my dad, glad I’ve been given a gift I never asked for, glad I can recognize the good thing we have.
My walking like him – it’s not much, really. Just a superficial piece of evidence of our relatedness – I just take intense pleasure in knowing below what’s visible, we share a similar heart and a friendship.