Daddy Issues

I had a rare moment Sunday; I had a “dad” moment.  God’s been very gracious to bring replacement mom-types into my life but good men to step up and act like a father are more of a rare jewel.  It was a simple moment. We were sitting at lunch and this dad-ish overheard me talking and started to chime in with his words of warning.  I was a little taken aback.  I’ve known this man for a while and have great respect for him but he’s never before switched into a parenting role with me in such an outright way. (At least not that I can remember.)  He’s been very present in my life, along with the rest of his family, but it was this vocal expression that threw me off.  Even though I didn’t really agree with him, I couldn’t help but smile and think about his guidance.  The moment meant a lot to me.  I now find myself very distracted, thinking about what it means to really have a dad— a true, noble man who has the right to be called a father.

I think back to the relationship I had with my father… volatile is a good word to describe it. My father and I had two things in common—we had a gift for creativity and were fiercely stubborn.  We differed in pretty much every other way.  My father was extremely unpredictable and had a temper to match.  He’d completely ignore you one minute than walk in the room screaming the next.  I remember one particular instance where he’d beaten me into a corner.  I was crying so hard I ran out of tears and was now just sort of dry-heaving with my hands over my face.  I was in so much pain and he just keep yelling at me to stop. (As if that would help.)  The more he yelled, the harder it was for me to breath.  The more he kicked, the more jumbled my thinking got.  At one point I realized that I didn’t even know why I was being punished.  In my father’s rage, he had not even thought to tell me what I’d done wrong.

Always fearful of my father, I often walked with my back to the walls of our house, so as to avoid being snuck up on.  The older I got, the more detached I became from my emotions and the harder it was for my father to do physical damage to me. (Partly because I grew stronger and faster, partly because men wouldn’t pay as much to sleep with a bruised whore.)  Also, as I grew older I would find more and more loopholes to his seemingly unending control over my life.  I walked a thin line of rebellion—just enough to exercise some of the independence I craved, but not enough to get me killed.  I can’t help but wonder what different line I would have walked if the man at lunch today had been my father instead of the monster who was playing that role years ago.

No one’s perfect obviously.  No father will make every perfect decision. There are people who grow up into wonderful citizens who had awful fathers.  Then of course, the opposite is true—beautifully parented individuals can become gruesome criminals.  Still, I can’t help but just wonder (not dwell) on what would have been different for me.  Damn you classic daddy issues…

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as an encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

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