The process of writing this memoir about my dad's life and death has been a healing one for me so far. Certainly difficult at times, to wade through emotions I don't think about on a daily basis, but inspiring to realize how far I have walked along the road and hopefully my words can provide healing to someone still in pain over a sense of disappointment with their own father.
At the retreat I was at on the weekend, ladies I had just met were asking me what I was writing, so I gave them a brief sketch of the memoir. Everyone was interested and had stories to share about their own relationship challenges with a difficult parent or parents. I did a small poll, asking the question, "Who was disappointed with the father they were given?" and found most of the hands in the room were raised.
Why is this the case? Why are there so many daughters in the world who are damaged by the dads they had? A difficult relationship between father and daughter colours everything in a woman's life. I've always struggled to be comfortable in the presence of a man who is the rough age of my dad. I don't know where to look, what to say, or how to feel. The whole exchange is generally awkward for me.
The exception to the rule is my first boss when I was 17 years old and just graduated from high school. He stepped in and filled the role of surrogate dad to me, and began my road to healing with his no-nonsense affection and support for me. He offered the toast to the bride at my wedding when I made the difficult decision not to invite my dad because he was off his medication and not in a stable emotional place to be with guests on such an important day for me.
At the B&B I was at over the weekend, I enjoyed a few interesting conversations with the hosts, and was amazed at the level of comfort I felt talking to an older man who could've been the age of my father. I realized when I got home that something deep inside me that was broken is starting to mend, at the ripe old age of 37, and that thought brought me to tears.
We can grow, and change, at any age and at any time in our lives. The possibilities for healing are always there, if we are open to them. I feel a little better every day when I watch Ava interact with Jason. I thank God that she won't have the same angst and fear in the world that I did, facing life as an adult with only half of my confidence in place, and a gaping wound somewhere in the middle of my soul that I've spent years trying to fix. She'll have other struggles, but she will take for granted a comfort level with men that I started life with no knowledge of. For this I am grateful, and I will keep my eyes open for every chance I can find to heal the cut on my heart, and continue to mend what was once broken.