My Father’s Daughter

I am my father’s daughter.

The proof is in my face, an undeniable carbon copy of his own but in a slightly softer female form. It is in my fierce opinions, my quick flashes of temper and impatience, and my tendency to find humor in strange places. It is in my predisposition to feel sentiment deeply and cry easily. My dad and I both tear up at the drop of a hat. I give him shit about it, but I have the same problem. I secretly think it’s one of his sweetest, most endearing qualities.

My dad has been my only active parent since I was barely twelve, and the road has not been an easy one. I know now that raising an angry, motherless, depressed teenage girl cannot have been fun for a single father. At the time I of course thought only of my own rage at him not understanding me. He was my sole source of support but I hated him at times for not knowing how to help me feel better.

As I became older, I settled down and so did our relationship. We had our struggles but he was always the person I talked to in my times of need. When I moved across the country to California, we made a trip out of it. We had an adventure of sorts, driving through states neither of us had ever seen before. When he flew home, leaving me out there on my own with no job to my name and barely any friends, I cried my eyes out. I’d never felt as alone as I did then. I missed him horribly.

This is the running theme of our visits. He may drive me a bit crazy when we’re together, as family often does, but there’s never an instance when we take leave of each other without some sadness on my end. I’ve grown up and learned that I can survive much more than I ever knew. I’ve learned that I will endure – and hopefully survive – many future obstacles. The one that I fear most is losing my father.

I know that my inner softness is my strength. I challenge myself to remain kind and loving in difficult times. Still, my emotions often prove to be my downfall. I’ve nearly let a few romantic relationships ruin me entirely, but instead pivoted the pain in order to strengthen and grow. It could’ve gone either way, but I reached deep down inside and found some primal, unconscious instinct to survive.

I’m scared that I won’t have that strength when it is my dad’s time to go. It’ll happen eventually no matter how desperately I will it away. I’m afraid that my inner vulnerability will eat me up and consume me whole. I can’t even entertain the thought without collapsing into helpless crying fits. I’m aware that this isn’t love on my part but instead selfishness. It’s a need for someone to lean on, the one person in my life who accepts me exactly as I am. The one person in my life who is always there for me no matter what I say or do.

Until he isn’t there anymore.

It’s a lot of pressure to put on any one relationship, and I believe that a parent-child relationship is perhaps the only kind that can withstand the burden. I know that some don’t. I know I’m lucky to have such a close relationship with a parent at all. My dad is my best friend. I know that some children never get that, and having it, I’m all the more terrified to lose it.

I hate seeing my dad’s mortality because it reminds me that one day the inevitable will happen. I hate watching him grow older, and I become impatient with his recent lapses in memory and attention because it scares me. I just took him to Costa Rica with me as a belated 60th birthday present. As I sit on my flight home writing this, I know that trip was as much a gift for myself as it was for him. I wanted to give him a unique adventure that I know he appreciated, but I just as keenly wanted to give myself an unforgettable memory of quality time with him. A memory to hold close to my heart with all the others someday when memories are all I have left of him.

I am my father’s daughter, and as my father’s daughter, I will not let grief slay me. In my darkest times, when he’s no longer there to talk me through my anguish, I’ll listen to his voice whispering wisdom in my head. I’ll remember that he was always proud of me and always loved me. I’ll remember what he gave me and sacrificed for me. I’ll refuse to crumble, because he would want me to stand strong. He would want me to breathe and laugh and snatch everything I want from life with fearless joy. He would want me to finally love myself the way he loves me.

You got it, Dad.

I Am Woman – Hear Me Roar

I’ve grown so strong. Do you see me? I’m a woman now. In spite of all the issues that still remain, I’ve persevered. I control them. They are a part of me, a part of my history – but they are not who I am. I learned to understand them because you can’t fight an enemy you don’t see. I put in the work and I battled and I came out ahead.

That’s not to say everything is perfect. I have my days, just like we all do. That doesn’t make me weak. It makes me human. Life isn’t always easy, but I don’t get low the way I once did. I don’t let my fear submerge me. I will no longer give it that satisfaction.

It’s not as if I just woke up one day and everything was magically different. I’ve been working so hard for such a long time. Once I accepted that nothing in life comes easy, it wasn’t so difficult to buckle down and adjust my attitude. Yes, it’s been quite uncomfortable. I now enjoy feeling a bit unsettled because I know that means I’m doing the right thing.

There is no change in comfort. There is no comfort without change.

I’m fierce. I’m ferocious. I am a woman newly awakened to her own power. It is a truly magical place to be. I’m not invincible, but I now joyfully embrace my SELF. I love who I am, my strengths and flaws alike. For the first time in my life, I believe in my own boundless abilities.

I was limited before only because I limited myself. Fear is the greatest enemy and I’ve let it dictate my journey for years. The time to reject my fear was long overdue and so reject it I did.

I am finally me. I am wholly, unapologetically, honestly, amazingly myself. After all those days of masks and uncertainty and doubt and insecurity, I burst through the walls and escaped my self-made prison. I can tell you from firsthand experience that the freedom is blindingly beautiful.

I am a woman. Know that I will stand up, I will speak out, I will defend, I will resist. I’ve come into my own and there’s no stopping me. I am a powerful voice that demands to be heard. I’m intelligent and loyal and compassionate and fiercely loving. I’m everything and more.

I am a diamond in the rough, but I don’t need polishing. This fire will never burn out. It’s smoldering quietly, biding its time, and it refuses to die. I’m strong and now that I know it, nothing can ever keep me from reaching my destiny.

I never understood all those years that the only thing holding me back was myself.

I’m unchained and I’ll never voluntarily cage myself again. I’m blissfully freed and I have my own tireless work and efforts and strength to thank. I made this happen.

Hear me roar.