26 October 2016

A hole in my heart

Today is October 26th, 2016. 

Matthew is now five and Luke is three, so I've celebrated the actual birth of both and a combined eight birthdays between them.  Each of those celebrations has been so meaningful to me as their mother as an opportunity to celebrate their lives, accomplishments, express how much we love them and really just to thank God for sharing them with us. 

Four days ago, I turned 35.  Although Dustin prepared a beautiful dinner for me, complete with gourmet cupcakes from a local bakery, I was able to visit with my sister and my mom and brother took me out for dinner and then a little shopping spree, I didn't hear from my dad.... as was the case so many years growing up. 

Each year on my birthday, a part of me, deep down inside always feel a sense of emptiness around the raw fact that my dad doesn't celebrate me.  Or maybe it's even deeper than that, it's probably more along the lines that he doesn't even acknowledge my existence.  Most days I'm able to bury the hurt and loneliness in that special place for parents that he's never inhabited, but each year on my birthday (and especially since I've had my own children), I just struggle with how little he's ever made an effort in my life.  It's so hard for me to fathom a time when I wouldn't go out of my way to tell my kids I love them and I can't understand how he could just forget about me everyday, but even more so on the one day of the year that I would assume he might be even more called to reflect on the day I was born. 

Throughout my lifetime, my dad was the most involved when I was a young, school-aged girl... a time when I recall him picking me up for more than half of his court ordered visitation weekends.  Many of those memories were tainted however by the fact that he usually would have a new girlfriend or the two times that he showed up with a new wife - the first was "Brenda".  They weren't married long, but she had a baby girl while they were married - he told me that he wasn't the father.  Her name was Leann... I've always wondered if she was really my sister.  After he and Brenda were divorced, I believe that Brenda may have given her up for adoption...  There was one time when he took us on his own to fly kites and another when he took us sled riding at some point before "Diana".  When he married Diana, his 2nd wife after my mom (4th wife in total, but one that he's been married to for over 20 years now and whom he had another daughter with... a half-sister I barely know named Chelsea) is when he'd pick us up more regularly for maybe five years or so, but when my mom, sister and I moved about an hour and a half from him when I was in 9th grade, we rarely saw him... probably fewer than 5 times per year.  I began to see him more frequently when I started college about 20 minutes from his house, but seemingly only because I made the effort to go see him and our relationship sort of ended my junior year in college when he said some really hurtful things to me and we never completely made amends.  As I reflect on our history and the significant amout of baggage in our relationship, I truly believe that Diana was a big part of what went wrong between us... there were so many times that I caught her in a lie as she relayed information to my dad, times when I found letters she'd written to her friends portraying my mom in a negative light and other instances where she worked hard to manipulate the situation to make others look bad and attempt to inflate her position.  I didn't invite them to my wedding, because I couldn't envision him walking me down the aisle... especially after so many hurt feelings, lack of apology or even a willingness to have a real conversation about what went wrong between us so we could move forward with even footing. 

Despite all that's happened, I wish things could be different. 

I wish that he'd pursue me as his daughter... someone whose opinion he held in high regard.

I still wish he'd sweep me off my feet as every daddy should do for their little girl - ride in on his white horse and rescue me from the loneliness that his absence has created in my life.  In my dreams, he would have picked me over all of the other women he's chosen, even if it would happen just once, when the circumstances were important to me.  That's a tall order for someone who doesn't even think of me on my birthday. 

The only place I know to go from here is to trust in my Heavenly Father.  To know that He has a plan for my life - one that I don't have to understand, but one that I have to trust is meant for me.  Maybe knowing the sort of sadness that abandonment can bring will be the catalyst in pushing me to always let my boys know how much they mean to me and more importantly to always make the effort to help them achieve their dreams.  Understanding the way an insignificant father figure can impact a child's life helped me to be a strong supporter of Dustin taking on a vital role in raising Matthew and Luke, one that resulted in me pushing him to be a stay at home father for over two years after Luke's open heart surgery (a role that I selfishly wanted for myself). 

This life lesson has taught me that mothers and fathers are equally important in the lives of children, regardless of whether they're babies, adolescents or even grown adults with children of their own.