6 Things I Learned From My Toxic Relationship with My Father
Here's a not very well-known thing about me -- I have no relationship with my dad. None. At all. It's not something that I tell that many people and it's definitely not something that I've ever talked about on this blog.
I'm still not sure if I want to share all of the details because I really don't think this is the place. But I will say that my dad is alive. He's been around since the day I was born. But, for reasons I will never understand we can't be together in any kind of healthy way.
And, honestly, it's hard. There are times that I want to just call him up. I want to go see him. I make jokes about it all the time, but there are times that I fall apart inside.
It's especially hard given the fact that I'm getting married and will miss all of those father daughter moments. It's also been hard with other big moments like meeting Mr. T's family. And, honestly, it's just hard to tell anyone at any point in my life. I've always been afraid of being judged or that somehow it looked poorly on me. You know, what have I done to make my dad not want to talk to me? Or what kind of a person am I to choose not to have a relationship with my father? I mean, really who makes that kind of decision?
But no matter how hard it is, I truly feel that we're both better off today. And I've found that dealing with this has actually helped me learn a whole lot. Here are 6 things I've learned from my toxic relationship with my father.
A toxic relationship is a toxic relationship
Honestly, this was the hard part for me. It's always felt easier for me when it was a friend or an ex. I mean, not that it's technically ever easy to cut off all communication with someone, but I found it easier to understand. I didn't have that guilt. I didn't feel like I was some kind of awful person. When it's someone who gave me life, it's a whole other ball game. And nothing about it is easy. But, at the end of the day, a toxic relationship is a toxic relationship. It doesn't matter who it's with -- your mom, your dad, your brother, a cousin, an ex, or a friend. They’re all exactly the same and should be treated exactly the same. You have to remove it from your life. Because if you don't it will interfere with everything single thing that's good in your life.
Side note: I'm not encouraging anyone to just give up on any relationship. Relationships are complicated. They take work. Lots of it. Hard work. And you can't just run because of that. I'm solely speaking to relationships that are toxic. Those that are legitimately bad for you.
Appreciate what you have. Every single day.
I'm so incredibly thankful for every single person that I have in my life. They love me and accept me just the way I am. I'm also thankful that I have my mom (whom I often refer to as my mom and my dad). We celebrate father's day and she'll be walking me down the aisle. I have an incredible sister and friends. And an amazing fiance who comes with an equally amazing family. In some weird way all the stuff with my father has made me appreciate everything and everyone.
You can't control what happens to you, but you can control what you do about it.
I agonized over the fact that things shouldn't be this way and it's probably true that our relationship shouldn't be this way. And maybe it isn't fair. But the cold hard truth is lots of things shouldn't be the way they are. We don't always have a choice about things in life -- they are what they are. We can, however, choose how to handle the things that happen to us. You can let it destroy you or you can accept it, move on, and live a happy life.
You're not a bad person.
I've wondered what kind of person I am on many occasions. The answer? I'm a person who wants to feel loved and be happy. Having a toxic relationship with my father didn't allow for any of that. And, like I said, a toxic relationship is a toxic relationship. I would cut any other person out of my life when things are bad, so why should this be any different?
Many people won't understand, but they don't have to.
People would always tell me that I should try to work things out with my dad. They would tell me that I was lucky that my father was still around. But I honestly don't feel that I'm somehow lucky just solely based on the fact that my dad is still living. I can openly admit that it's probably hard to understand that, but no one else has to. The grass is almost never greener on the other side and you can say how you would handle something or feel about something all you want. But you don't actually know what you would do until you're experiencing it.
It has more to do with them than you.
Whatever “it” is, probably isn’t about you. I’ve learned that people who treat you badly are often dealing with their own demons. They just usually don’t realize or don’t want to realize it. So there's really no use in beating yourself up.