As fathers day has just past, I figured I could do a post about my father. The man who makes up half of my DNA. But as I wrote it, I realised I couldn’t do it. Instead this post is for family.
I haven’t seen my father since I was 12 years old. Not that long, 9 years. But before then he may as well have not been there. In and out of my life for 12 years, he promised we would move away, all of us. He said he wanted to be in my life – then next moment was out of it. He denied he was even my father when I was born, saying my mother had been with other men at the same time. Even when the paternity test proved otherwise, he still tried to deny it. For years, I was that other child, the one he didn’t want to know about unless it was convenient for him. It was horrible, I didn’t understand it.
When he started to see me more frequently – after my half-sister expressed she wanted to meet her younger ‘sister’ – he would pick me up every Wednesday. Each week we would go out, usually to a restaurant or somewhere similar. Each week we would dine out, then usually go back to his to watch some TV, before heading back home to my mum.
It was nice to have some kind of contact with him. He had been out of it for years, I tried to connect with him. But I never felt close. He had a new wife. She had two grown up children of her own, in their late teens early twenties (I forget their exact ages). They were nice enough, but I wouldn’t say I exactly felt ‘connected’. I tried to pretend otherwise, but it never quite sat right.
Then one night, when I was 12 years old, I was made to feel awful . It was just after my fathers birthday (I was unable to see him on the day as he was too busy for me), and I had forgotten his card and present (it was hanging up on the kitchen door, I can still see it sitting there). He was frustrated with me and I was frustrated with myself, I wanted to give him it. It was a me to you bear, the same brand as the only bear I remember him ever giving me.
Now I don’t remember why he got out of the car (perhaps to refuel) but it left my sister and I in the car and the song Jolene playing. It was one of her favourites at the time. She turned to me from the front seat and told me how bad I was for not getting him a card at least. I was told I was a bad daughter, that I should have remembered, after all, he had not forgotten my birthday once in my life.
I was hurt and annoyed at this point. I told her what I thought, I said, he did forget me, for most of my life he has refused me to be his own child. She denied it, told me he always gave me a card and I knew that was false. She was daddy’s little girl and I knew it. All she had to do was say Daaaaaaad, and he’d reach for his wallet and ask how much. I was begrudged £5 a week in pocket money that I didn’t even ask for. He complained to my mum that I was expecting too much, I was expecting to go out every week. It was lies. I just wanted to spend time with him, I wanted to go to his and play monopoly, nothing major. Just watch a film. Chill out. But he begrudged every moment.
That night, when I was 12, was the last night I saw him. My sister also tried to tell me that by ‘biological law’ I should have his last name. That the child should always have the fathers last name, regardless of the situation. Then, when he got back in the car, he also ribbed me for not having got him stuff. It was awful.
When I left that night, the last thing I remember is pulling up in the car on the street next to my house and finishing receiving an audio file from my sister on my phone, a chipmunk version of Unfaithful by Rhianna. When I went into the house, I remember feeling so hurt. I kept replaying the night in my head, and quickly I was reduced to tears. I remember running upstairs to cry, sitting on my stool and my brother coming upstairs to see what was wrong, hugging me and then getting angry with my dad. He drove off, thankfully not knowing where my father lived, I then went downstairs and recounted the night to my mum.
We wrote him a letter. Told him how hurt I was. I didn’t want to see him again. I told him I felt like an unwanted Christmas present, picked up to play with every now and then, but then thrown on the ground again when I was unwanted. It was true. He was no dad to me, he treated me terribly. And to this day, I am now 21, I have not seen him. We sent the me to you bear with his card and the letter. I half expected a reply, but quickly realised that wouldn’t happen. He didn’t even fight to get me back, just left me alone.
He still lives around my mums area. Every time I go back there I look out for his van (it isn’t hard to miss, it has his name on the side of it as he is a self employed plasterer). I keep an eye out for him, but I still don’t know what I would say if I did. I don’t even know if he would recognise me.
Fathers are a strange thing. I haven’t ever experienced having a dad to show me what I am doing. My brother was my male role model, and after I came out our relationship changed completely. Not for bad, he is treating me like a young man. I am thankful of that. He treats me like he would treat a younger brother. We may not always get along, we may not always agree on things, but we have lead different lives. We have different qualities, different skills and attributes. I am always seeking education from books, from academia, he is always seeking it from work, from practical means in work. But he is still my brother.
He is the man who I have had to look up to for years. I have had him and my mum behind me. Again, I may not always get along with my mum, hell even she admits that we get along much better when we are not living together. My mum has been there for me since the start of my life, and never flaked in and out like my father and his family did. My mum has always been my rock. When I was sad, when I was happy. She made me who I am today and supported me, even when it has been difficult to. When I came out, my mum struggled – she still does – but she is there for me still. I have not been kicked out like thousands of trans* and LGBT+ people around the world. She has stayed there, and she is still my mum.
What I want to say from this post is how much I love my family. My actual family. The ones who have stood by me. My father was never a dad to me, no matter what I may have called him growing up. He was just my sperm donor.
Now I am not here to belittle those fathers out there who stand by their children. I am also not going to give you a shiny medal for doing so. For doing what was right. Single fathers in particular, well done. But I am not going to give you more than what single mothers get, you are all strong. Single parents full stop. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are doing wrong, even if you couldn’t give them everything you wanted to, you gave them something their other parent didn’t. You gave them yourselves, your time, you.
For that I say well done, to every parent who has supported their child when they had the means to, alone or otherwise. To every sibling who has stood by the side of their family. Well done.