There is this belief that a father figure, or lack thereof, plays a huge role in who we become. Who we grow up to be.
Our beliefs, our strengths and weaknesses – all affected by this “figure.”
Yesterday would have been my grandfathers 80th birthday.
My father was gone before I was old enough to even remember him – though I do carry around what is believed to be the last picture we took together.
I never knew him growing up. Never met him, never interacted with him.
The only things I know of him are from the stories my family, and friends of my family have told me…which, to be honest – aren’t the best.
But my grandfather – he was there. He was a constant in my life. He was my role model.
Sure, he had his faults – but don’t we all?
I always felt as though my grandfather and I shared a special connection.
Though complete opposites in certain ways; he more quiet and subdued, me – outgoing and rambunctious- we connected.
I was drawn to him and the relationship we had. It was magnetic.
A few years ago, when I got word of his hospitalization – I rushed to be by his side.
I knew that we would not have a lot of time left, and I wanted to be sure he knew the appreciation I had for him and everything he had done for me.
I sat by his bedside, he unable to talk, me unable to stop talking.
Even in that state – nothing had changed. He sat there, looking at me, listening as I went on and on about how much I loved him, and respected him, and how much I despised hospitals and their terrible food.
He attempted to force a smile, I could see it in his eyes. He was trying. He could hear me, and understand everything I was saying – but he couldn’t say anything himself.
So he listened, and as I rubbed the soft stuffed animal along his cheek – asking if he could feel the softness, for the first time in my life – I saw the strongest man I knew cry.
I saw tears roll down his cheeks.
The strongest man I had ever known was scared; and this broke me.
After he passed I spent a lot of time lost.
I didn’t know what I was doing, where I was going.
I faked it, faked my happiness as to not let anyone else worry about me.
That was one trait I picked up from him – hiding my emotions, fighting my battles all on my own.
It took years for me to hit my breaking point, but I did. I hit my bottom and realized that something, if not many things, had to change.
So I took a step back and started doing some major thinking.
How much does a father-figure, figure?
I looked back on my relationships up until that point and realized I was constantly searching for approval. I was looking for acceptance – any way I could find it.
I was chasing and staying with, men who were just no good. And when a good guy did come around – I self-sabotaged because deep down I believed I didn’t deserve it.
I didn’t deserve that happiness.
Was this because my father had left when I was so young?
Was this my way of replacing that love and attention I had missed out on?
Was it me thinking that if he left, everyone else is just going to leave too?
If he didn’t love me enough to stay, why would any other man?
It was then that I realized that no matter how much love and attention I received from others – the most important thing was that I finally love and accept myself.
I needed to realize that his leaving was not my fault.
Cliché – I know.
It took awhile, but I worked through a lot of issues – most of which will forever be ongoing, but at least there has been a start. I started to acknowledge my lack of self esteem, and realize – wait a second, I’m pretty damn awesome.
I deserve to be loved, I deserve to be happy.
And just like that, once you truly start to believe that – good things do come your way.
You accept the love you think you deserve.
And if you think you deserve the best – then, honey – that’s what you’ll get.