Let me be clear. My dad's still living. He didn't beat us or abuse us in any way. He didn't ever ground me or punish me. He didn't move across the country or go to jail or go to rehab. He is a nice man who works hard and has a good sense of humor. He's tall and handsome, and I rather like him most of the time. He's not a psycho or a drug-addict or a killer. He left us and proceeded to live a very normal life. He took up a live-in girlfriend and her two daughters and moved to a picturesque home outside of town.
Yet I rarely saw him.
There were holidays, sure. There was the Sunday here and there when Mom was working and he would take us on the boat or out for pizza. And then we'd go home, full of hope that we'd do it all again next weekend and full of promises that we'd see him more "from now on." But next weekend rarely ever came, and "from now on" always proved to be the same inconsistent Sunday-here-and-there we'd always known.
Jealousy quickly invaded my heart in many ways.
I had a friend who HATED the fact that her dad MADE her mom obey the divorce decree and took her all weekend twice a month. "Sometimes I wish my dad HAD to take us," I confided to her one day, expressing my jealousy over her dad's desire to see her. But my dad didn't have to take us. He didn't require any specific visitation at all.
Sometimes when I was feeling empty or angry I wished he'd moved across the country. I guess I thought it wouldn't hurt so much to not see him if I knew I couldn't.
The hardest thing for me was hearing his girlfriend's daughter talk about him at school. She knew him in a way I never really had. They did things as a family. We didn't. We never had. They had a complete, happy little family. Even as a teenager it was hard for me to understand him leaving our family for another family. I lived in a very modest home and had a few nice things (mostly because of my grandma and aunt). Those girls lived in a beautiful two-story home, had nice cars, and shopped at stores I'd never set foot in.
So sitting there in church on Sunday morning, thinking about the dad I wished I had, and knowing he was just a few miles away, choosing to be that for someone else really hurt me.
It made me very calloused, and with time, I became apathetic to it. I grew accustomed to a life without an active dad. I made the decision to take it for what it was. To never get my hopes up for normalcy or more involvement. I decided to be fully content with a dad who was more like extended family than anything.
So today, while everyone else is celebraing being "daddy's girl" or a chip of the ol' block, it is really just another day for me. It's a day I feel accomplished for how far I've come emotionally. A day that doesn't bring tears to my eyes anymore. A day that passes much like any other Sunday, because now it's just another day.