Father Figure

photo (2)
The one and only, my grandfather

I have grown accustomed to not having a father in my life. I no longer pine and wish for a dad to talk to, to teach me how to change my tire, to give me advice. Now that I am 29, an adult by most means, the sting of being fatherless has mostly faded. I rarely think about the fact that I don’t really have a father. I mean, there is a man out there who contributed to my DNA, but that’s about it. He was never there for me or my twin sister. The last time I saw him I was seven years old.

I used to desperately wish for a father like my friends had. I used to wonder who would walk me down the aisle if I ever got married. But over time I realized that I did not have a father and I would never have one. And that fact, that truth, was okay. Plenty of people have a “perfect” cookie-cutter family and still have issues. Though I didn’t have a father, I was lucky to have many wonderful father figures in my life, especially my grandfather. Growing up, my grandfather was my father, hands down. Our relationship changed when my sister and I moved away from my grandparents to Northern California, but our bond with him and love for him never wavered. He taught us so much. We planted vegetables with him in the garden, went body surfing in the ocean, sang songs. He was the best man I have ever known. I miss him every day.

Though I desperately wished for a father growing up, with age and time I have come to believe that just because you share DNA with someone does not mean that they are your family. And just because you don’t share DNA with someone else doesn’t mean that they are not your family. I have my blood family whom I hold close and dear, but there is also a whole side of my blood who I do not know. Who I will probably never know. But then I have a group of amazing friends who I consider family, who have been with me for years of ups and downs and in-betweens and have loved me through it all. What I know now is that I get to decide who to let into my life and who to let go. I don’t have to hold onto an idea of someone.

Having not seen my father for the past 22 years, I thought that I would probably never hear of him again. A family member of mine who is a private investigator offered to help me find him if I wanted to, but I never have. So I was shocked when my mother sent me an email this week with a link to a newspaper article. My mother has finally been receiving back child support, accrued over the years when my father would disappear or try to hide so he wouldn’t have to pay my mother money for our care. She had gotten a notice in the mail saying the checks would stop, that my father had quit his job, and if she wanted to keep receiving money she should let the courts know any details she knew about his whereabouts. So she went online and got to digging. And she found the aforementioned article. She also found a few other details.

Seeing my father’s name in the subject line of the email, a name I never think of, made my heart skip a beat. There was no preface to what the email contained, no warning of what I was going to discover. When I clicked on the link, it took me to a photo of a nearby girls’ basketball team and their coach. The coach was wearing a beanie and dark sunglasses; he looked like someone with something to hide. The caption of the photo told me that the man was my father. And that one of the little girls in the photograph was my half-sister.

A following email from my mother told me that she had found two young men on Facebook with the same last name. My half brothers. I immediately closed the email and put my phone down on the table and began to cry. What was I supposed to do with this information? Why was my father allowed to coach a girls’ basketball team after what he had done to me and my sister when we were little? If you missed my previous post about my father, “Giving Up the Ghost,” you can read it here.

I called my sister and we had a long discussion. We weren’t sure how we felt about learning this information; we’re still not sure. What I know for sure is that my father gave up the privilege of knowing me and knowing my sister when we were two years old. While my sister would like an apology, I don’t want anything from him. Not now. Not anymore. There is no space in my life or my well-being to find out more about this man who means nothing to me. What he did to me changed my life; it caused me to feel insecure, ashamed, different. It altered how I interacted with the world. But that was when I was young. I am an “adult” now, and over the past year I have reclaimed my life. For myself and by myself. I rid my life of what no longer served me. So why would I want to invite someone in who never served me, who harmed me? I believe in forgiveness, in moving forward, but that doesn’t mean that I need to see him or speak to him.

Knowing for certain that I have half siblings is an entirely different animal. I always assumed that I had at least one half sibling; I remember going to the courthouse with my mom when I was little and seeing my father holding the hand of a young boy. I remember wondering why he was there for this boy, his son, but wasn’t around for me. Now I see that I have three half siblings. Maybe more. But I can’t imagine getting to know them because I am sure their relationship with their father is much different from the harmful and then nonexistent relationship my sister and I had with him. I would never want to disrupt someone’s life like that, to tell unsuspecting children that their father hurt other children, children with the same DNA. And if I would never want to do that, what would be the point of trying to get in contact with them?

I already have a sibling. I have a twin sister who has given me the joy of being an auntie, not to mention that she is one of the best people I have ever known. I already have a father. My grandfather. He passed away in December of 2007, but he will always be alive in my heart. He never hurt me, he never hurt anyone. I have other sisters, my friends, who know me. I have my mother, who raised my sister and I on her own while she worked and went to school. I have a lot. So I am not going to look back. That is my choice. I am looking forward.

I wish you a wild, free life.

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