A Familiar Stranger

A Familiar Stranger

It’s the strangest feeling to look at someone who gave you life, who shares your genes and resemblance but is a stranger to you. My Dad is a stranger to me.  In five years, I’ve seen him once, tomorrow will be the second time.  After my Mum and Dad separated, my Dad became distant, I tried and tried to keep the relationship strong but eventually it became to hard.  My Dad moved as far away from me as he could, to get away from my Mum and it seemed like the easiest decision for him to leave me.

For the first sixteen years of my life, I had the perfect Dad.  He was my best friend, my role model.  I was a complete Daddy’s girl!  I was a tom boy and I liked working on cars with him and working at his garage during the summer.  He was everything I could have asked for in a father and I look back at that man fondly and also sadly because that man doesn’t exist anymore.

Separation is hard and I understand that he needed time after the divorce but his children should have been his focus, instead he decided to run away from everything and move hundreds of miles away.  It was shortly after this I was diagnosed with depression, maybe his actions triggered it, or maybe it was a long time coming.  It was difficult losing my best friend and feeling like I had done something wrong.  I took his side in everything, I was terrible to my Mum in the hopes that he would see I loved him and if he had asked me to move away with him, I would have done.  Instead, he just left and did nothing to stay in contact, like he wanted to forget I existed.  It’s a horrible feeling to be rejected by your own father, and I live with that rejection every day.

My first suicide attempt was traumatic and shameful and I wanted my Dad, but despite the hospital and family contacting him, I heard nothing from him.  How can a parent learn that their child has tried to take their own life and do nothing?  How can a parent not care that their child wants to die?  My second and third suicide attempts brought no more than a text and the knowledge that my Dad didn’t care that I was suffering and dying inside breaks my heart.  I went four years without seeing my Dad, and having no contact apart from the occasional birthday text to him coming to visit for three days.  I remember being so nervous about seeing him, and wondering if I was better of just not seeing him but I still have this urge to please him, and to make him proud so I met him.  It was awkward and surreal seeing the man who for sixteen years was my world, he looked like me and he sounded like he always did but he was a complete stranger.  He knew nothing about my life, nothing about the person I had become.  He made apologies and promises to be better, to talk to me every week and visit more often and I believed him because I wanted him to be that person.  A year has passed and for the first two weeks, he kept it up and then it was like before, he lost interest and the disappointments kept coming.

Now he’s here again, wanting to see me for just a few hours and again, I’m too weak and hopeful to say no, even though it would save me the hurt and pain that is bound to come when he lets me down again.  Tomorrow I see him once more and the anxiety I feel is the same I feel when confronted with a stranger on the street.  My depression is looming in the background waiting for him to let me down so it can take advantage.  But somewhere inside me is that five year old girl who thought her Daddy was a hero, who would have done anything to make him proud and that little girl makes me risk my own heart to give him another chance.

Parents are supposed to be everything for their children.  I will never understand parents who abandon their children, a person that they brought into this world and had a responsibility to care for.  I’m lucky to have one amazing parent in my Mum and I know that she’ll always be there for me, but it’s not quite the same as having two parents who love and support me through life.  When my Dad was amazing for the first 16 years of my life, it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer that man, no longer that great Dad who I loved.  He’s just a stranger now, a stranger that gave me life and looks just like me.

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