Several years ago, I wrote a piece about Mother’s Day when my mother and I had an immense falling out.
I am talking about a falling out of epic proportions that frankly could have ended my career and could have taken my career and my children away from me based on her actions.
Over the course of the past several years, my mother and I have healed the wounds that were created. She apologized to me because of the manipulative, destructive things she did to my life.
You see, my mother has a mental illness that she has struggled with for as long as I can remember. Her primary diagnosis is bipolar. She has ancillary diagnoses that contribute to her bipolar, and which are treated with both therapy and drugs. We have our ups and downs, but I have learned, after 41 years, how to cope and recognize the signs of an episode and to handle one when it rears its ugly head.
My father is a different story.
When I was little, his brother (my uncle by blood) sexually abused me. I came home and told my parents about it. My father’s response was to punish me. He demanded that if I “wasn’t lying, then he would take me over to my grandparents house to confront his brother and say what his brother made me do in front of him and my grandparents.” I was eight.
I remember vividly and viscerally not ever wanting to set eyes on the man again who had made me give him a blow job in a pasture just so I could go and ride my favorite horse on the farm. So, I refused to go and confront him. My father accused me of lying and beat me with a belt and told me I was a liar.
My mom tried to stick up for me, but it didn’t matter. She was half his size and she couldn’t have made a difference if she tried.
So, for years, I held my abuse a secret. I was shamed by my father into thinking I was a liar. That I had made it up, even though I knew I had not.
I remember a night when my siblings and I were young where I hid my sister in a clothes hamper because my father was on a tirade against my mother and I didn’t want him to come to our room to beat us. I sat on top of the hamper to keep him from getting to her. My mom came upstairs and pulled me off of the hamper and told me that he would not take us away from her. She pulled my baby sister out of the hamper and held us. My sister and I slept in a small corner of my bed that night, wrapped in each other’s arms.
Over the years, we have had a love/hate relationship with both of our parents. Our mom has fucked with our dad. Our dad has abused our mom.
My father has threatened me. When I was 24 years old, I had purchased my own home, and had a disagreement with him. He threatened to come to my home, put me over his knee, and bust my ass. Given that I was a lawyer, I laughed and told him to try it, because it would not end in his favor.
Since that time, we have had a love/hate relationship. It has been mostly dependent upon whether my siblings and I are getting along with our other parent and what is happening in our own lives.
In all of my life, my father has never apologized to me for anything that he has done to me. Forty-one years of life and he has never apologized for any wrong or perceived wrong he has inflicted upon me.
I’ve screwed up a LOT in my life. I’ve made some major mistakes. I mean some life altering major fuck ups. Sometimes, my dad has been by my side. Sometimes, he has yelled at me, called me a worthless drunk, and told me I’m not worth the air I breathe.
That last one came last summer when I was defending my brother, who is gay, and who had gotten into a little scrape with the law, and I was trying to speak to my father about the situation. I was berated, I was called names, and I was told I was worthless.
That was the last time I spoke to my father.
I reached out to him and my stepmother several months ago after they posted a “woe is me” post on Facebook about not getting to see their grandchildren. To be clear, I have never prevented them from seeing my children. I won’t tolerate, however, my parents speaking ill of me in front of my children for past mistakes. I also will not continue a toxic relationship with people, family or not, who cannot muster the courage and humility to apologize to me for saying things in haste, in anger, or out of hatred that should not have been said.
All I asked of my father was that for the first time in his life, he apologize to me for the foul words he spewed at me last summer.
In return, I got silence.
As an interpretation, I received my answer.
Some people will never admit they are wrong.
My father has always held the stance that he is the “head of the household and that we will all respect his authority and bow down to his place as the head of our household.”
I have my own household. He does not have a place at the head of it. He has not earned it. A petulant child has no place at my table, let alone at the head of it.
So, as we celebrate Father’s Day, I do not celebrate the man who contributed half of my DNA. He has not been my dad for a while. I wish he was, but his self-absorbed stubbornness will not let him be a part of my life because he refuses to apologize for horrid words he spoke to me out of anger a year ago.
On Father’s Day, I celebrate the fathers who teach their children the true meaning of love and unconditional support.
I celebrate fathers who, regardless of their beliefs, love their children for who they are, regardless of how many times their children have fucked up in life.
I celebrate men who have stepped in and taken on the role of father, even if they are not the biological father of a child or children, because all children need decent, good role models to understand how to grow up to be decent, honorable men and human beings.
On Father’s Day, I celebrate the courageous men and the honorable men who have the ability to separate their anger and their prejudice from what it takes to be a loving father and a role model for their children.
To the real fathers of the world, I celebrate you.
Happy Father’s Day.