Sunday, June 17, 2007

Today, like many other days

"All the girls I know seem to have 'daddy issues'- and so do you" he casually stated.

He, being a very close friend at the time, had hit the nail on the head with this crude statement. Nonetheless, I still acted like I thought he was dead wrong and that I was pissed off.

It actually stung a little. "Daddy issues".

I never wanted to be one of those girls.
Hell, I hadn't called my Dad "daddy' since I was maybe 6 years old.

I don't like having "issues", in general. But, there it was- staring me in the face.

I do have "daddy issues". Big ones.

When my Mom died, I was 20. I didn't know how to balance my checkbook, let alone my life.
I didn't really deal with things the way wish I could have. I handled it through denial and avoidance. I immersed myself in my life in Minneapolis, trying to ignore my life back home.
We (me, my sisters, my Dad) were all in our own very private places, dealing with it the best we could.
My Dad was desperately lonely and grief-stricken.

I didn't know what to do. I was just a kid still. I had no way of knowing the scope of his misery.

Once Mom was gone, the family (both immediate and extended) started to unravel. She was the glue that kept us all together. The one who made the plans. It seemed no one wanted to do it in her absence.

We had a fairly typical family dynamic- Dad was the breadwinner, working long hours, then coming home- having dinner and maybe a beer or two, falling asleep on the couch. Repeat Monday through Friday. Weekends were about projects around the house, projects in the garage, and getting together with friends and family.

For how traditional we were, you would think that I would have known him better.

At 20 years old, with my Mom gone, he seemed like someone I never knew at all. We could have just met the day before for all that I knew about what was going on in his head. Truth be told, I think I was scared of finding out.

My sisters and I were a complete mystery to him as well. Aside from the occasional disciplinary action or photo opportunity, he had pretty much steered clear of us during our teenage years, as any smart man with three daughters should do. We were a swirling mass of hormones, moods and unpredictable needs. We didn't fish and had no interest in woodworking or the inner workings of cars. I always wished that we had a brother, mostly for my Dad. Even when I was young I felt bad for him. It didn't seem fair that he was so outnumbered.

In the years that followed her death, we grew apart. I didn't know how to help him and everything I did seemed inadequate.
When he started dating a few years later, I was happy for him. I didn't want him to be alone.

But it was still hard.
She wasn't my Mom.
She was my Mom's polar opposite, it seemed.
Where my Mom was bright light and laughter, I thought this woman was stiff, dark and humorless.
Where my Mom could appreciate a raunchy joke and often had the vocabulary of a sailor, this woman never swore and had never, ever had a drink. Ever.
I couldn't relate to her, and she couldn't relate to me.

Then they got married.
Then he sold our house.

I think he's still angry that I didn't help him move- he thought I was being selfish and irresponsible. I have still never told him that the thought of going there and seeing our stuff gone, the house empty...well, I couldn't do it.
I wanted to. I really did.
I just couldn't.

The following years have ebbed and flowed. At times, though somewhat stilted and uncomfortable, things have been real good. A few years ago I decided to just let the past go- we all (me, him, his wife, my sisters) had said and done some very hurtful and cruel things that we needed to just get over if we ever hoped to move on.
We even have times that border on comfortable and loving occasionally. I like his wife quite a bit now that I understand her more- we, I think, get each other in a way we didn't before. I see the relationship they have- one based on mutual love and respect- and I am very happy for them both.

Other times, like today, it seems I can do nothing right. Nothing is up to his standards. I may never know what I did wrong that made him so cold and curt with me on the phone today, but you can bet I'll be paying for whatever it was for a good long while.

He has never told me the rules of our relationship, and he never fails to catch me breaking them.

I don't know how I can win this- or really, just break even.

I love you, Dad. You are smart, talented, funny and handsome. You were a wonderful father when we were growing up. You are charming and have always had a way of drawing people in (I like to think that's where I get it from- wink). I couldn't imagine wanting anyone else to fill your shoes, as if anyone could.
When I look in the mirror, I see so much of you in me. I have your nose and unruly hair. I have your freckles and love of whiskey. We both love to make people laugh and go out of our way to show others a good time. We give even if giving means we have none. We both love grilled meat and hanging out with friends at home.
These things I love about us. I'm happy to have these gifts from you.

But this- the judgment, the games, the not knowing what will be all right and what won't-

it's not fair and I'm not playing anymore.

I can't.

It's exhausting. And I'm done.

I hope you have a good day today. I'm sorry we're there, at that place again, but this time you need to figure it out.

This time it's not my problem.

Happy Father's day, Dad. I do love you. That should be enough.


Failcooks said...

What an amazing photo, Marcy. And a beautiful post. I wish you the best with your dad. My sister and I both just realized that we too have daddy issues. We were sitting in Mexico, over drinks, and it just became glaringly obvious to both of us. She confided in me that she always ached for a real dad. (Hers was peripherally in the picture, but he was significantly older than my mom and already had several grown children-- he was more like a distant uncle than anything, and he's dead now). Me, I never really wanted for my dad (who my mom was desperately in love with, but left when I was a baby because of his abusiveness). But then I thought of my serial relationships, my tendency to collect men of all sorts, at all times, and my need to work in a male-dominated business. I guess its true, I'm afraid of being without daddy, and so I surround myself with surrogates. Sigh. Happy Father's Day to all of us.

Failcooks said...

Also, I see where you get your devastating good looks ;o)

Lollie said...

This was a beautifully written post. Thanks for that.

Butrfly Garden said...

We are all a result of how we were raised. We all have qualities both good and bad as a result of our upbringing.

It sounds like you know a thing or two about your dad. You may not know the *rules* but at least you know they are there, right? You know what you can expect. I think my mom is rather crazy, but since the kids have been in my life, some of her crazy things make a lot more sense. They are still crazy - don't get me wrong - I can just understand now why she does them. I look at it like this: I can either deal with the things I don't like or just not talk to her. The good usually outweighs the bad, but when her negativity (her worst trait) starts getting to me, I find little ways to take breaks from her w/o hurting her feelings.

Hope your day gets better.

lucy said...

wow. that was very well-said. i hope he reads this and takes the stpes he needs to take.

thethinker said...

Beautifully written post. Does he read your blog?

lucy said...


(sorry... unresolved typos keep me up at night.)

metalia said...

Wow. This was such a beautiful, bittersweet post.

Domestically Disabled Girl said...

i am so there with you. i have some pretty serious issues with my pops too. i didn't call him today. he'll probably hate me forever for that, but i just can't do it. i used to be his "favorite" but i too got sick of the games. i don't want to worry about the rules anymore. there are too many of them and i have enough other crap to worry about. i'm a parent now. my kids come first. i can't worry about him anymore. if he wants to drink and smoke himself to death, well...i can't stop him. i'm sick of trying.

beautiful post, btw, thank you!

Flenker said...

This is a great post, like others have mentioned. I'm sorry that things have worked out the way they have for you. At least you've come to terms with it, I salute you whiskey! :)

T said...

This post made me tear up.

We have more in common than may be immediately apparent.

Stacy said...

Thoughtfully done and well-written. I'm enveloping you in my arms for a big squishy hug.

Sugar Kane said...


Kara said...

I'm new here, but felt compelled to tell you this was a beautiful post. What a fantastic writer you are! I'll definitely be back.

Whiskeymarie said...

Kara- be warned.

It ain't always like this around here.
Usually I swear a lot more- I can't help it, it's in my contract.

And to answer the other question- No, my Dad does not read this blog.
Geez, I hope not anyways.

Stacy- squishy hugging you back.

M@ said...

That actually WAS touching....

Courtney said...

Very poignant, my dear. Sad, moving, touching. And very well written.

Hugs to you.

Stacey said...

I know you said your Dad doesn't read your blog but would you ever think of emailing or sending him this post ?
Sometimes its much easier to write a letter than to actually have those difficult conversations with those you care about.
Anyhoo, this is so well written and so frank - such an amazing post, WM