I talked to my dad today after about 15 years of not seeing or hearing from him. For good reason. When I was younger I had a nightmare about him, and I was told it was true. It was a sexual assault dream, you can imagine how my 12-year-old little brain fell into a deep depression.
It was this whole thing where I had to talk to child service workers on several occasions. Something never felt right about talking about it, but they say it’s just something hard to talk about. And the stories that were fed to me just made it seem more real. Someone in my family painted him as a monster, making my nightmares a reality.
Last year I came to the conclusion that it was all a lie. Mainly because the person who was filling my head with stories turned out to be a pathological liar. I noticed one lie after the next, just small things, and realized that they weren’t in a healthy mindset. I even confronted them about this big lie along with smaller ones, and they just disregarded it, not even mentioning it.
A couple nights ago I reached out to my stepmom. I was feeling impulsive. I guess holding this in for a year was getting to me. The next morning I had the sinking feeling of anxiety, thinking I was so stupid. Why would he want to talk to me? I had written him a letter a while ago and did nothing with it. But I told my stepmom I’d like to send it to him.
Then I saw the message back. “I’m willing to talk if you’d like. Here’s my number. I hope you and your husband are doing well. Love, Dad”
Love Dad it said. Love! My heart jumped at the sight of it. Words I head read for a good portion of my life but were always for someone else. Never directed at me.
So I didn’t call that day. I was sick with anxiety. Yeah, okay, he loves me, but parents do that. He could still be disappointed or feel resentment towards me. After all, I almost put him on the sex offender list for something he never did.
But I called today. And I am glad I did.
When he picked up the phone, I could hear the excitement in his voice when I said who I was. He was excited to hear from me. I told him that I was sorry and that I don’t believe he was a monster and I felt like I was pressured and manipulated and he just said, “You know, honey, it was just one of those things.”
This was a moment where I realized what unconditional love from a parent was like. Of course, I have had this from my mother, but always with strings attached it always felt like. He just brushed it off like it was nothing.
We talked for about an hour and a half. I told him all that I went through. I told him about the drugs, jail, all of it. I told him about all of the therapy I went to ever since this happened. And he said, “I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that when there was nothing wrong with you.” Those words lifted my spirit in a way no drug could ever accomplish.
We talked about current events, ideas, and everything under the sun it felt like. We had similar ideas and it was just really cool to say the word, dad. I probably said it 100 times. He kept calling me sweetie, darlin, honey, baby, and with every word of affection he threw my way it was like throwing more kindle on the fire filling me with warmth.
We laughed, mostly at the same time. We have the same humor. It’s nuts how even after not seeing or talking to him I felt like his daughter in that moment. He has had two strokes in the past, and he said he was so happy that we talked and reconnected before it was too late. He is 73 now and only getting older. I don’t know what I would have done with myself if I held onto this information and he passed thinking I thought he was a monster.
My heart is so light. I had no idea how much this was weighing on me. I can literally feel the dark bubble that sits in my chest evaporate into the sky. It feels so good to have a dad again.