Sunday, March 20, 2011

First and Lasting Fools

Went to bed last night thinking of my father.

This happens occasionally...
and I get wrapped up in memories I don't actually have.

I do not know my father.
I have never seen his face.
I have never heard his voice.
He exists in the world, but not to me.

My mother married my first stepfather when I was a year old or so...
Before I was four, he was gone.

I remember flashes of him.
I have seen his face
I remember feeling loved.
But I cannot hear his voice anymore.

I thought he was my biological father until I was 18....

My mother met my second stepfather almost immediately after.
They got pregnant with my sister when I was five.
He was to be my new Daddy.

He didn't want to be my Daddy, I could tell.
But as a kid hungry for love, for normalcy?
I dove in.

Hi Daddy!

 A tenuous bond....
A daughter who was not really a daughter and a father who was not really a father...

When my sister was born (and shortly following, my brother), it was clear that I wasn't needed anymore.
 Not a judgment or a whine, simply a fact...

I found myself fatherless again.
It felt familiar, but watching it play out so differently for other children, ones of my flesh and blood, was hard.

I did not feel jealous or angry...
just less.

I would often wish that my father would come rescue me...

He was MY father, after all.

Except he wasn't.

When I was 18, I needed my Birth Certificate.
My mother claimed that she didn't have mine-- "lost..."
So I went to County Records-- got my own damn copy.

As I looked it over, I noticed that my father's name was not on it.
Someone else's name was listed there...
Ummm, what the fuck?

My mother's version of the story is as follows:

She let me believe that her first husband was my father because it was "easier."
I would never have to know the truth....
Ummm, really? Poor planning on her part, then.
He was much older
They fell in love...or she did at least...
She got pregnant

When confronted with the news, he denied her, and told her he was engaged.
She was nothing to him and he wanted nothing to do with her or her baby...

She called him when I was born...
I was not supposed to live.
She wanted to give him the chance to see me...

He never came.

When I was about 9 months old, my mother ran into his fiancee....
This woman knew who my mother was, and strangely, she knew me...
Apparently, I looked JUST like my father.

The only detail that my mother would ever give me was his name.
First and Last.
I never even carried his name.
I carried hers.

I wanted to find him.
See him.
Hear him.
I did not want to love him, or for him to love me.
There would be no diving in.

No "Hi Daddys"

I just wanted the other half of the picture that was me.

But I couldn't find him.
First and Last was not enough.

Five years ago?
My mother was at a bar with friends.
He was there.
He did not recognize her.
She said nothing.

I know he lives in my state, probably even my county.
I know his name.
First and Last.

I gave up searching for him a long time ago.
He is a man on his path, and I am a woman on mine.

There is guilt because my son does not have the whole picture.

I am used to messy.
I am used to not being whole.

But that is not what I want for my son.

So I find myself thinking of my father.
Of the face that is mine, but I wouldn't recognize on the street.

I think of the siblings I will never know or love.

I think of the histories and dynamics that I will never be a part of.

Longing for that half that I will never be able to share with the child that is half of me...

I find myself angry for even thinking of it at all.

It seems foolish.

He is not my father, he is just a man.
Who happens to look like me.

I am not his daughter, I am just me.
Who happens to look like him.

It's foolish, right?

Until I think of my son.
Of the two halves that came together to make him.
To create his name.
First and Last.
I see a face that has pieces of mine, therefore pieces of his.
How beautiful that face is.

And I forgive my foolishness.
But not His.

[This post was written for the Red Dress Club, as part of their RemembeRED prompt...Unfortunately, I won't be linking it because I couldn't come in under the word limit. Always running my mouth for too long! HA!]


Lupie Mama said...

So, so powerful. I'm so glad you shared this. Your feelings make total sense and are not foolish. I wish I could grab that little girl and hold her through all of those years and let her know that she is loved, and chosen, and that she has a heavenly Father who will not fail her like these men have. They've missed out on a truly extraordinary and beautiful human being they could have had the privilege to call their daughter.

Love you dear friend. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Oh wow... This was so well written. Haunting and moving. I wish there was some way for you to find peace with this unanswered question. I suspect, though, that it's one of those pandora boxes that only leads to many more questions. It seems so unfair to have hidden the truth from you. You would have found out eventually, so why lie? Ai dios...

he calls me wifey said...

Though our father stories are very different, I can tell you that I can understand at least a little bit of what you are feeling since I've had father figure issues myself. Of course, it's not the same and we have different mixed emotions, but growing up without a father is tough. So tough.

This made my eyes well for you. I'm sure the cluster of emotions that this has created in you are extremely hard to deal with. I love that you write about it and talk about it. I love reading about your heart and your hurt and your love and your life and your joy. You are amazing and don't ever forget it.


Britt said...

First of all, this was so beautifully written. It was like a beautifully sad song to read. Your words are so lyrical. <3

Yanno, I never gave too much thought to the family issues with which we all struggle until recently. Growing up, whatever dynamic you went through, or your friends went through was "normal". Your parents stayed together? Normal. They split up? Normal. You're being raised by your grandparents? Yeah, pretty normal. It never fazed me or even occurred to me that any of it would effect us in our later lives: this was just a temporary hardship, "the way things are".

But now much like you, in the face of the "mother" phase of my life, I see it all. I see the endless ripple effect of my own upbringing, of my husband's, of my friends'. I see how it has fucked up and shaped us all. And while there really never will be consolation for any of this, I can say I am grateful only in that who and what you are is strong, and amazing, and kind, and resilient, and wholly awesome, and whatever it took to create that was "worth it" from my eyes. (though I do wish like Hell I could hug you right now!) *squeeeeze!!*

Kacie said...

sweet courtney.. i understand.

though not in the deep way you do, but in my own.. slightly jaded, lonely little girl way.

being the only child of 5 that didn't live with my dad certainly left me out of everything they did. the phrase "absence makes the heart grow fonder" didn't apply to my father. i was forgotten and often dismissed.
enough about me. this is a comment for YOU! :)
i love your honesty.
its gut wrenching and totally captivating. thankyouthankyouthankyou.

Margaret said...

I'm terrible, because the second you started talking about vital records: Genealogist Me went "I bet I could find him!" before My Dad Sucked, But This is Worse Me said "STFU, Genealogist Me." Not everything is worth finding.


CaraBee said...

Wow. A powerful and emotional post. I think anyone with father-daughter relationship (or lack thereof) can see themselves a little bit in this, although our situations may be different. Thank you for sharing your story.

Shanon said...

This story you tell. I can not even find the words to describe how I felt. The pain. The sadness. My heart aches for this child. You.

But your writing. The way your stories unfold. So beautiful. So powerful. Like poetry. (And again, I struggle to find words to describe. I am not a writer!) I do know that I love your writing!
Perfection. Wow.

Cave Momma said...

So beautifully written. I'm sorry you or anyone else has to deal with this.

Feelings are never foolish. They are honest and real. Much like your words.

livingsj77 said...

This is a great piece. I love how you come to the realization that "he is just a man. Who happens to look like me." It's so rational, right? But then again, it's not how you really feel. It's hard to just let something like that go, no matter how much sense it makes or doesn't make. Thanks for sharing.

Jayne said...

Rach-I appreciate you so much! Thank you for always encouraging me!

HC-It really is a Pandora's Box. I'm not sure if it will ever get opened. Why lie, indeed? I could give you my theories on that, but it's a bit long for the comment box....

ABH-I know you have a lot of pain in the father arena as well. I hope someday we can both make peace with our separate but familiar issues. You are pretty frikken amazing yourself. I am lucky to have you.

Britt- It's amazing to me how many issues that I thought had been dealt with and put away have been ripped wide fucking open in new and ugly ways since O was born....motherhood really makes you look at your shit magnified times ten and forces you to deal with it. This is awesome but sometimes, really painful. Thank you for getting me!

Kacie-Thank you for sharing that with me, and for coming along with me on this blogjourney.

MarMar-You made me laugh! I'm sure if anyone could find him, it would be you! And I may let you, someday.

Carabee-Thank you for reading! It's sad, but yes, most can relate in some way.

Shanon-Thank you for your kindness!

Jeneva-Thanks, friend! It's hard not to feel foolish sometimes. It's easier than being vulnerable...

Jaime-Sigh. Yes. It is hard to let go.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of you wonderful women! I am very thankful for the love, feedback and support!

Jenna said...

im so glad to have read this about you. so powerful, and heartbreaking, and longing, and confused, and so many emotions. well done.

Jayne said...

Jenna-I'm so glad you read it. Thank you for connecting, for hearing me.

Kris said...

CJ -

This touched me. So beautifully written, and so much emotion packed into these words. I always knew my father, but I wished at times that he wasn't mine. Once I managed to get him out of my life? He continued to exist, but as a first and last name that I was not inclined to seek out.

I have a 1/2 sister I have never met. She knows where I live. She follows my blog. She and I exchanged several letters many years ago. She lives not too far from some of my siblings.

But as far as I know, she has never reached out to meet any of us.

I used to have a hard time understanding that.

But I think I get it now.

Life is difficult sometimes.

Love to you, babe.

Jayne said...

Kris-Thank you. Love to you as well. Much.

beautiful because said...

im glad you shared this with us, thank you. I wish you had linked up anyway!

Frume Sarah said...

This was so beautifully written. In that achingly stunning way that comes from such emotional tension. I love how you used the different font size to emphasize certain words, feelings, etc. Working perfectly.

Thank you for sharing.

Jayne said...

BB- I wish I had as well, but i wanted to be respectful of the parameters. :)

Sarah-Thank you so much! Such great feedback! I appreciate you stopping by!