Honestly, I don’t have the best relationship with my father at this point in my life, so even writing this is hard, to say the least.
Still, throughout writing these articles, getting more personal about what I decide to share has made me realize how important it is to express and dissect the raw truth. Learning about the various aspects of the relationships that my parents have with their parents and the relationships my friends have with theirs, has taught me a bit about things, like why we are the way we are.
Relationships with your parents can be hard and they change over time, but I believe discussing the varying dynamics of such personal relationships not only teaches us about one another, but gives us a choice.
The choice of whether we will decide to be ourselves or what the world would like us to be.
When I finally and awkwardly came out to my father, he responded, “I already knew.” When I asked him how, he simply explained the small moments and conversations that only a father would observe and remember. He pointed out that when he looked at the pictures and videos he asked me to take at one of my stepmom’s recent family cookouts, they so happened to mostly include women. He described the conversation that he had with my mother after I moved in with him in high school, when my mother let him know, “she doesn’t like to wear dresses.” And he lastly pointed out that most of the limited amount of boys that I did bring over were gay, whether they had come to that discovery yet or not.
Fond memories of tossing the football around with my father, his support of my skateboard riding, and later, the deep conversations over the years about the personality of my current girlfriend, all cushioned the blow of my mother’s lack of acceptance and support.
When my mother found out I was a lesbian, she turned her back. Even though I never came out to her, somehow, just like my father, she knew. Yet, despite my father’s acceptance, she had none. But the conversational closeness that my mother and I have always struggled to have was something that I was almost instantly able to have with my father.
The way my father allowed me to have breathing room, the freedom to speak and to ask questions without being looked at as stupid or dirty, enabled me to move closer to making that choice of being myself.
The respect I was shown as I chose to accept myself and express myself in the way that I knew was true for me enabled my growth.
Gaining the courage to dress how I wanted, date who I wanted, and ignore the dirty stares, even to this day, come from the support my father showed me, even when my mother couldn’t.
Yet, on the other side of my relationship with my father lies the not-so-fond memories of deception, untruths, and broken promises. The addiction, money owed, and manipulation that was woven with barbed wire into our relationship, cut into the closeness and support that helped to make me into the woman I am today.
It’s funny how two things can exist at the same time; while I did gain encouragement and support from our relationship, I also took on a tremendous amount of pain. While that pain made me stronger and more independent, I still wonder why both the pain and support had to exist in this one relationship.
Because while I will always love my father, I don’t always like him.
I’m currently learning–well, struggling to learn would be more honest–to balance out the fond memories and the not-so-fond ones. Giving me, those problems, and my father the space to just breathe and exist.
I love to end on a positive in these articles, but I just want to be honest and share that a positive conclusion doesn’t always happen, nor does it exist at this very moment. I’m young, and it takes time to get clear about what is true, or at least what is true for you. But until then, thank God for things that we already know are true. So, until we find the next set of answers to the questions we ponder over–like why our parent-to-child dynamics are the way they are, for those of us who have–we can rest comfortably on the fact that throughout what we’ve been through, we’ve chosen to be ourselves.
Until then we can be thankful for the support we’ve gained from whomever we could. Mine was from my father.
And gain just enough courage to put on that outfit, talk to that girl, guy, they or them, be honest, chose ourselves, and despite the lack of support elsewhere, chose to be our true authentic selves.
I have my father to thank for helping me make that choice.
So, who do you have to thank for helping you choose to be yourself?
father’s support father’s support father’s support father’s support father’s support father’s support father’s support father’s support father’s support father’s support father’s support father’s support father’s support father’s support father’s support