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How to celebrate fathers day when you’ve been hurt by him

Father’s day just passed and everyone is posting about their dads on social media. They are talking about their favorite memories or what they love most about their dad. Unfortunately, this day is not all memories about cliche fishing trips and songs about being “daddy’s little girl” for a lot of people. It is a hard time filled with bitter reminders of a toxic relationship.

This happens on Mother’s day as well. I am so fortunate to have a mother I want to celebrate, and I never take her for granted. But this is not Mother’s day we are talking about here. We are talking about Father’s Day. Some fathers are great. Some not so great. Some are absent from our lives, and some are uncaring and cruel. Yes, I am talking about my own father with that last one.

I am not going to sit here and tell you my dad was a great guy with issues. I am also not going to give you some sob story about how he ruined my life. (I’m writing a book for that.) If you have been reading some of my other articles, you might already know why I do not have a relationship with my dad. If you are new here, this is the very short and simple rundown for you.

I have been told that my dad used to be a great guy, but most of my memories are of him screaming at my mom and saying he was going to kill himself. He was an alcoholic, and psychologically, verbally, and sometimes physically abusive. He now is 54 and has Alzheimer’s. I have PTSD from all of that and developed lasting disabilities from it.

That short summary is all the information I am going to state here. I do not really want to get into all of that right now, or I would have an 80,000 word novel by the end. (Yes, I actually do have an 80,000 word novel about everything). What I really want to talk about is us, the survivors of fathers who failed us and how we should look at Father’s day as a day for celebrating ourselves.

Whether he was abusive, intentionally or unintentionally absent, or just a bad father in some way that makes us not want to celebrate them on fathers day, a lot of us feel all kinds of emotions on this day, and not all of them are positive. That being said, Father’s day can still be a day that we can celebrate. We should celebrate ourselves!

Let me ask you something: Are you one of those people that struggle with your dad in some way? Are you reading this? Well, if you answered “Yes” to both of those questions, that means that you are 100% worth celebrating on Fathers day! Still confused?

Well, the very fact that you are reading this means you’re still alive, you survived. I just do not mean physically, either. I do not know exactly what your past is or what trauma or pain you have gone through because of your dad. I do not know your emotions when it comes to you and your dad. Everyone is different. Some of us have moved on, some of us are still healing, and some of us are unfortunately still in the middle of it. There are people who will forgive and forget, others who hurt so much every day because of it, and some who are lost as to who they even are.

Whether you have been able to move on, are resolute with it, or are like me, still struggling in everyday life to cope with all of your anger, pain, guilt, and loss, you are here now. You are a survivor, you are fighting every day, you are going to be okay. You got through it, and that right there is worth celebrating every day!

I’ve been told I’m brave since I was little. Growing up with a heart condition, going to doctors all the time, and having multiple surgeries, including open heart surgery three times, people just automatically say that. I always would get mad when people said that to me. Like I had a choice in whether I had these things done. If I wanted to stay alive, I had to do it. It was routine for me, and it wasn’t that big of a deal to me since it was such a normal and usually uneventful part of my life. I can’t even remember most of my surgeries because they happened when I was a baby. I just didn’t think about it. You do what you have to automatically. I was used to it. I didn’t like it, but it was like going to student-teacher conferences every year at school. It’s awkward, uncomfortable, nerve-wracking, and makes you anxious, but you do it. It’s like what we have to do every day to get through our trauma.

We have to be that way, we don’t really have a choice, so when people say that you are a survivor, a strong, brave person, I get that you might have a hard time accepting that. But the truth is, they aren’t just words, even if they certainly feel that way when you are sitting on your bed at night sobbing and asking why. I know I still struggle to accept that about myself, and I’ve been told I’m inspiring by random strangers or new people I meet and share my story with.

Yes, we are all a little or a lot broken. No, we didn’t have a choice of who our fathers were. But we do have a choice every day to get up and live another day. Get through another day with all of scars and bruises stinging inside our heads. Maybe we walk with our head down, hiding from the world, protecting ourselves, maybe we reach out to others to help, and maybe we do nothing. But you are here, right now, reading this on our computer or phone, which means you are open to opening yourself up more so you can heal, you aren’t in denial that you have been hurt. Even if you don’t think so, the very fact that you have read through this is something you should be proud of. A lot of people might just run away. You didn’t.

So go and get yourself a silly Father’s day candy bar, or do something nice for yourself. You deserve it. You have survived, you are getting through it, and just because your dad wasn’t the father he should have been, the father you deserved, doesn’t mean that this day should be a day of grieving that loss. Turn it around to yourself. I don’t know anyone worth celebrating more on this day than those of us who have gone through hell and back, been stabbed and scarred, been knocked down over and over again, or abandoned by someone that should protect and nurture us. You got back up, brushed yourself off and limped away. You are still standing, fighting, surviving. That is probably the most difficult thing that anyone can face in their lifetime, and you do it every day. So take this time to really reflect on that and try to accept those words of being resilient and strong as more than words, but as accomplishments, trophies, as strength.

Happy Survivor’s Day!

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