This week is Father’s Day back in the United States as well as here in Argentina. For some, it signifies a perfectly lazy Sunday morning, with handmade trinkets, warm hugs, and special moments. It is a memorable day to spend with their beloved dad, who nurtured them, loved them, and supported them throughout the years.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for me. For me, Father’s Day is one of the most conflicting and farcical days of the year.
The role of a parent is an awesome responsibility, one not to be taken lightly. Keeping this in mind, it baffles me to no end how we can set such high expectations and demand licenses for people to fish, to own a dog, to become a teacher, and so on… but there is no real requirement whatsoever for being a parent.
Isn’t that unfortunate.
You may notice in this particular entry that I do not refer to my male parent in this case as my “dad.” A dad and a father are not the same thing. While it is true that he was partially responsible for my birth, he abdicated being a dad to me and my sister for as long as I can remember. He was responsible for the holes in my heart that I carry with me to this day, which I futilely attempted to fill with food, self-mutilation, promiscuous sex, and other extreme and unhealthy means. He was never responsible for my wellbeing or upbringing.
While I fully acknowledge and understand that one has to be responsible for their actions, shortcomings, and behavior, I cannot deny how deeply my father had thoroughly hurt me through the years, and how this had and still has resulted in me being as damaged as I am. He was negligent in every sense of the word. Impulsive and genuinely selfish to the core. My father was equal parts workaholic and alcoholic, both of which have ultimately led to his downfall. Only now, as an adult with my own child, am I starting to come to terms with this and understand that a great deal of how I am is because of how he was.
At this point, my father has almost nothing and no one. To say that, at 65 years old, he has hit rock bottom would be an understatement. He foolishly gave away his life savings to an online catfish he was lusting over who was less than half his age, all the while owing tens of thousands of dollars to my mom in backed child support over the years. While I know that I *should* feel pity for him, there is only disgust and fury. He never had the time or money or energy to invest in his family or what mattered most.
Yet I know that he expects me to call him, as I (used to) dutifully do, on the 19th.
I don’t care how many years have passed. I don’t care how short the phone call is. At this point, I truly have nothing more that I want to say to him.
Far be it from me to put anyone who is down and out on blast, but there are far too many grievances and wrongs that have been done to me, my little sister, and my beloved mother admiringly, bravely, and single-handedly raising two daughters on her own.
How can I wish a happy father’s day to the person who refused to pay for my braces as a kid because they weren’t a “medical necessity”?
How can make a point of reaching out to the man who cannot tell you with complete certainty what day my birthday falls on, nor how old I will be this year?
What could I possibly have to say to a sick individual who openly made cruel fun of obese people in front of me as a preteen (do I even need to go into how fucked up this is as an eating disorder survivor???).
This day merely represents to me a warning and a reminder of my worst nightmare – that one day, I will wake up to find that I have become him, a metaphoric knife dangling mere inches over my head, threatening to drop at any moment.
As Amy Winehouse so articulately put it in one of her songs, “I can’t help but demonstrate my Freudian fate.”
They say that it’s not forgetting that heals. It’s remembering. If this is truly the case, I still have a hell of a lot of reckoning and remembering to do before I can even come close to starting to heal. To this very day, if I think about him and the hurt that he caused me for too long, it drives me blindingly mad.
I guess I need something to talk about with my shrink this week.