Tuesday, March 08, 2005


R+D says:
I got distracted and thought "Hm.. I'm going to check [your dad's] blog before I go, just to see if he posted anything"

Still Water says:
what'd he post? ;x
Still Water says:
*goes to read*

R+D says:
R+D says:
Your thoughts?
Still Water says:
Still Water says:
it just loaded..
R+D says:
R+D says:
I forgot your connection speed, sorry
R+D says:
Still Water says:
I don't know what I'm thinking, really. I'm crying. God damnit.. all I ever wanted out of Dad was his approval, and he's never given it unless I followed his rules exactly

Still Water says:
I'm trying to get things right but he's afraid to let me make mistakes
Still Water says:
It's frustrating

About a week ago Badaunt made a "Dear Dad" post. I read it, and thought that I was glad my father wasn't like that.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I saw my dad for the first time in weeks. I had no party, just invited my boyfriend and family to share dinner and cake. It was a wonderful evening, for the most part. However, my father has been growing more and more distant lately. Whenever I see him it seems he has some new comment on my behavior, or another question that I can't find the right way to answer. While I spent most of the evening enjoying the company of my boyfriend and my sisters, my father removed himself to an armchair and sat reading, occasionally trying to read something out loud to us, and giving us Looks. Anyone who's seen one knows what I mean. The eyebrow raised, "And Just What Do You Think You're Doing?" look. Then he posted something in his weblog that reminded me how much I wanted to say to him and haven't found the words for. And so this is to you, dad. Even if you never read it. Even if you don't like what I say. Even if in later years I look back and think that these were the words of a silly little girl still looking for her place in the world.

Dear Dad,
First of all let me say that I still love you. In the past few years I might have grown up a little and away a lot, but you are still my daddy. I still like to come to you with something I have made or found or done, and with that little girl innocence I like to say "Look, Daddy. Look at this" and I still love to see a smile come across your face and see that you approve. That's why it hurts when you don't.

I know I have a lot more growing up to do. There are days I still feel like I'm a five year old, unsure of the world and everything in it. There are times I realize just how little life experience I have only because I've forgotten something or done it the wrong way, and have to go back and fix it. There are still nights I cry when I don't have anyone to tell me things will be all right. But I'm nineteen now, dad. I know that I can't be childish any more. Life doesn't offer a second chance at growing up and I'm long past the stage when I can come to you and sit on your knee when I need comforting. I have to learn how to pick myself up instead of reaching for your hand, and you have to learn how to let me fall down without reaching out to catch me.

When I was very young you used to nudge me out into the world and encourage me to grow. I was intelligent and you encouraged me to be curious, I loved to read and you pushed me into bigger and harder books. Always, when I succeeded there was the smile and when I failed there were gentle words. Now that I'm older you're harder on me. I don't get that smile so much any more and when I do it seems tainted by something sad. What have I done that makes you so unhappy, dad? Have I done the wrong thing in using what you taught me?

I've grown up, I'm not a little girl any more and I am trying to learn new lessons. I need to try and fail because I realize that there are some lessons in which failure can teach more than success. You told me stories as all parents do: of past mistakes which I was not supposed to make, because you had made them already. It's my turn dad, to create stories for my children by making my own mistakes.

I know now that you don't disapprove of my boyfriend as a person. I'm sure you don't disapprove of me entirely, though sometimes I wonder whether that would change if you could see me as I really am. I know that I am strong willed and sometimes very immature, and he can be too. I realize that what you have seen from us is mostly a lot of physical contact without much other involvement. There is a lot you miss. I don't know if you see how happy I am to talk to him, even if it's just small talk about his day. I do not think you see how I worry when he does not get to my dorm on time and the weather is bad, or how gentle he is with me when he touches me or holds my hand. I know you do not hear our conversations, or my thoughts about this relationship, which rarely uncurl themselves and find their way into writing. Maybe you do not even see how much I long for the acceptance that everyone needs and how glad I am to have found it with him.

This is all very silly of me, saying that because he accepts me, this is love. I have no definition of love yet. I say I love him because that word seems to sum up the way I care for him. I do not want to see him hurt, I do not want to see him fail. I want to be there for him as support and as a friend, and maybe as a lover. I want to be proud of what he can do and make him proud by doing what I can to the best of my ability. I want to be able to come home and find him there when I have a bad day and I want to be there for him when he has one. I want to have long conversations with him about the future and the past and world politics and games and books and anything else that catches our fancy. I wanted someone to give my heart to and I believe that he can take care of it. In many ways I am a silly little girl dreaming of fairy-tale romance and I know it.

Does growing up change things so much? Do you now look to love someone so differently from that? Do you not still care for them, support them and wish to see them succeed? Do you not enjoy their presence even if words are not spoken, and delight in conversation because you might just discover something new? Do you not wish to be near the ones you love, so that you can offer a hug or a smile or a hand to hold? If you can define love and put it in a little box for me I would like you to send it to my dorm - you have the address - and please leave instructions regarding who it is to be given to and how it is allowed to be demonstrated.

We are a physical couple. I see it so much now among those I know that I have taken it as a natural thing that I should display the emotion I feel. I see nothing wrong with holding hands, or "fondling" each other's hand, as you so described it. Even I will admit that sometimes our displays of affection are inappropriate. We are children yet and we will become more respectful of others with time. You say that public physical contact shouts of relational insecurity. I can stretch my imagination and see your reason, I think. Somehow we have developed insecurities - look at me, daddy. Remember that a healthy and secure relationship first starts with the parents. Before I "loved" him, I loved you and mom. If I am insecure in a relationship, am I then to blame you? Look at my past two tries. Those failures hurt, as any failure does. Insecurities are present in any relationship. They don't always tear people apart.

You are right that I may deny any wrong in my relationship and will do so blindly, I have done it before. I expect that he would do the same thing. If I am insecure it is because I still want the promise of commitment, to be reassured. Losing someone I love frightens me like nothing else. I don't pretend to know why and I don't know if that will ever change. I think maybe one day I'll learn to let go.

“Do I want to be right? Or do I want to be happy?” I want to be happy, daddy. I want to make you happy, too... but I need to learn how to make the right choices even if it means making wrong ones first. I know that you would rather keep me safe from the pain that this world can cause, but I've endured so far and I'm all right. If sixth grade* did not cripple me noticeably, neither will this. Let me mature at my own pace now and be glad you had all this time to prepare me to leave the nest. I remember a lot of your lessons after all.

You tell me now that I need to bail out of this relationship because it will hurt me later. You say it as though you are sure that a commitment is something neither of us can make, as though we can not survive some rough conditions along the road of life. I see you now, and see that you are separated from my mother after years of marriage and wonder: if you can point out the mistakes that I make, is it because you finally noticed your own? Am I walking in your footsteps, or is my chosen path one you have not followed to see where it might lead, and one you can not guide me down?

I'm not sure if I'm saying all I wanted to say in the way I wanted to say it, dad. See, I'm trying to show you why it hurts so much when you disapprove now. I'm still that little girl on the inside. I'm also trying to describe what I think and feel and hoping that you might understand and respect that I have a mind of my own. You are the one who told me it was all right to think on my own, and now I ask that I be allowed to. I did not learn to walk without falling and I can not learn to be a mature adult without a few more spills. Just walk a little behind me daddy, and be there when I can't get up.

*Sixth grade was hell. Adolescent girls can rip each other apart and for reasons I won't bore you with, they turned on me.

For those who don't know, I really do plan to marry him, but I'm not ready for it yet and I know it. Give me four or five years to get through IUP, into grad school and find a steady job or internship. Give him that time to finish PTI, maybe go on to a higher degree and find a good job for himself. We want to spend our lives together, and we know that if we plan to have decades together after we're married, a few years of waiting should not matter.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I kno your dad quite well and he loves u dearly. I am the girl that he said calls him daddy. I have heard many things about u and i read the blog he posted about u and the one u posted also. I may be a few years younger than u but i kno what i am talking about when it comes to things like this. My parents started disapproving of everything i did when i was only 6. Now i have no relationship at all with them and i basically hate them. Daddy cares about u a lot and he just wants to keep u safe. I have been trying to explain to him what will happen if he keeps acting this way and i think he is starting to understand. I kno that u do not want to have a relationship with ur dad like i do with mine bc it is horrible. I hope u dont feel like i am invading in something between u and daddy but i kno what will most likely happen when things like this occur. I hope that u and him can start to get along more. He loves u very much and he talks about u a lot too. He just doesnt want to see you hurt. He will always be there for u no matter the mistakes u make. I kno what it is like to feel how u do and i kno it is horrible and i hope u guys can work this out.