Today is Father’s Day, so let’s talk about it: what’s the deal with dads? To start, I know that for some, this day of celebration is triggering and painful. Some may have lost their dads, while others never had a father figure in their life to begin with. That being said, here is my story with my dad and how far we’ve come.
Growing up, my dad wasn’t exactly around. Being a second generation Greek, he was taught to be the man of the family. He hustled, overworked, and came home to his family exhausted for dinner each night. Working at several different law firms while I was little, he left a lot of the parenting to my mom – which she gladly took on. Don’t get me wrong, I had a very happy childhood, but I didn’t always get to see my father as much as I would like.
It wasn’t until I was 19 years old that my entire worldview came crashing down. It isn’t until something traumatic happens with your family that you start to see your parents in a new light. The summer going into my sophomore year of college, my parents sat my sister – who was 23 at the time – and I down to tell us that my dad would be moving out. My parents were getting divorced.
I had listened to my parents fight for the last year before I got this news, but I was still shocked. I had been naive for so long and it took an event like this for me to realize my parents aren’t perfect – they’re flawed.
Young, immature, and unable to handle my anxiety properly, I hit a wall. For over a year, I couldn’t even be in the same room as my father. Assuming that all the fault was on him, my intense feelings could not be contained. Whenever he entered the room, I could feel my anger boiling over. He ripped apart my family.
It took some time, but my father and I found each other again. I don’t remember a specific day, or month that we started our relationship again but this time it was different. We both grew up. We had gone through so much as people and it has brought us together. Whether it was a road trip picking me up from my college in San Francisco and driving back home to San Diego together, or our now ritual breakfast and a movie, he’s my best friend.
It took struggling through some of the worst, life-altering events to bring us closer than we really ever have been. Since my parents split, my dad realized his own anger issues, and it made him not only a more understanding person, but an emotional one. I had never seen that side of him before. My father and I have the same brain, as he says, and I think that might be why it’s so easy to talk to him and tell him any negative thought or high anxiety issue I may be struggling with: he’s gone through it too.
More recently, I’ve gone through a breakup and one of the only things getting me through it – other than therapy – is the support of loved ones. When I’m not spending time with myself, or friends, I do the usual breakfast with dad. The first corned beef hash and eggs of that weekend ended in me sobbing in the middle of the deli. When I looked up and apologized, feeling the slight shame of crying in public so intensely, my dad just took my hand and said, “It’s okay. You’re okay – let it out.” I don’t think I’ve ever loved him more than in that moment. While all I had was fear about my ex-boyfriend leaving me because of my anxiety or mental health, I feel incredibly grateful that those thoughts have never once entered my mind with my dad. He will never leave, he will never give up or think I’m a burden.
We don’t always get it right, fights happen but in the end we never say goodnight without an I love you. While I hope for the right match in a man in the future, I don’t know that I’ll ever find someone like my father. Like a bull in a China shop, he storms through life but it’s in the quiet moments I’ve realized that loud exterior is masked by a human with depths of patience, understanding, humor, and unconditional love for someone who doesn’t always feel good enough. Thank you for making me feel enough, Dad. You don’t know how much you do.
Do you have an inspiring story with your father? Share it in the comments!