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Building a Relationship with My Father at 26


I’ve recently attended enough therapy sessions to recognize that I can no longer carry around or be weighed down by my daddy issues. Surprise surprise! This trauma occurred over 25 years ago and I’m still walking around with the belief that everyone in my life will ultimately leave and abandon me. Uhm, wtf? You can only imagine how difficult this makes building strong and healthy relationships with others. But in order to heal from my demons, I must face them head on. Let me tell you, this has been the furthest thing from a walk in the park…

Backstory 

Let’s just jump right into it shall we. My biological dad left when I was a baby. I have zero memories of him to this day and could only go off of what my mother had told me for 13 years. After my third hospital admittance in the course of 1 year, I was able to hunt him down and coordinate a very sudden move to Vancouver island. I was young, fragile, and had no idea what I was signing myself up for. 

Upon meeting him, his girlfriend at the time, and their 12 persian cats (yes, you read that correctly…12 cats!) I found myself starting a whole new life with complete and utter strangers. Uncomfortable, anxious, and mentally unstable, I tried the best I could to get use to the changes that had suddenly hit me like a freight train. New family, new school, new surroundings, it all felt extremely overwhelming! 

My dads side of the family is the complete opposite of what I was used to my whole life. Think, tattooed biker gang meets trailer park boys. Young women, partying, drug use, drama, there was never a shortage of entertainment lets just say that. It took me a few months to realize that I couldn’t continue living with my dad and his girlfriend due to the toxicity of their relationship which is when I proposed moving in with my uncle.

Unfortunately this solution was short lived and my uncle was admitted to rehab just a few months later (and so the plot thickens). So where did that leave me exactly? On a 16 hour bus ride back home to Calgary, thats where. 

70’s time warp

Home Sweet Home

Growing up I was blessed with two extremely involved parents. If I wasn’t at dance class I was swimming, playing baseball, or learning to make crafts. My mom ran a dayhome for years which allowed me to socialize and make friends while also spending quality time with her outside of school. I always had everything I needed and then some. It never occurred to me that my dad wasn’t related to me by blood because he cared for and loved me the way any loving father naturally would. I didn’t feel like anything was missing, in fact I felt fortunate and supported by my family up until I was 9 years old. 

I don’t quite remember the situation all that clearly. From what I vaguely recall, my cousin told me that my dad wasn’t my “real dad” and that mine had left me when I was a baby. As any young child who had just discovered such devastating news, I was hysterical. I had another dad? He left me? Why would he leave me? Why had no one ever told me this?

As the years went on, I developed a strong resentment towards a man I had never even met. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around why any father would up and leave their child and not eventually try contacting them? I felt defective, unworthy, shattered, and abandoned. It should come as no surprise that I spent the majority of my teenage years and young adult life seeking a partner to fill this void. Ask and you shall receive…a plethora of equally damaged and codependent individuals. Love that for me. 

I spent 12 years swearing off a relationship with my biological dad for fear of being hurt and rejected (yet again) until one day, it just clicked. Would that really be so bad? Could anything possibly feel worse than the hatred I had been carrying around for so many years? What might happen if I chose to forgive him for his past mistakes and move forward for the sake of my own mental health? I mustered up every ounce of courage I had in me to make that phone call. Every single ounce. 

Brunch at the Treehouse Cafe

Reconnecting

Acknowledging that I was ready to take the next step and meet my dad face to face, I planned a weekend trip to Vancouver island. My partner at the time came with me for moral support and I honestly couldn’t have done it without her. After a 3 hour delay at the ferries, a handful of cigarettes, and one too many chai lattes, I was on the verge of a full blown panic attack prior to arrival. What the hell had I gotten myself into? Should I just say f**k it and turn around? No. I had made a commitment to face my past and recreate my story. I wasn’t about to back out now…

To my surprise, it wasn’t as uncomfortable as I had imagined it to be in my head. I’m convinced my body went straight into survival mode as I transitioned from feeling extremely overwhelmed to completely numb in about 4 seconds flat. The first night is still really hazy if I’m being honest, it didn’t quite feel real as I was seriously struggling to process my surroundings. Luckily for me, my grandfather broke the ice reciting one story after another in attempts to catch me up on the family dynamic I had missed out on for 25 years. My crippling anxiety began to fade. 

For the duration of our visit we kept things pretty low key. My dad and I swapped playlists and shared our love of music. He’s more of a death metal kind of guy but could appreciate my taste in classics from the 80’s and 90’s (if you can’t get behind Depeche Mode and Elton John we can’t be friends. Sorry not sorry). I found myself picking up on the little things such as our hatred of ketchup and love of cigarettes (don’t worry, he only smokes organic cigarettes) classic Keisha move right there. If it’s organic it must be good for you, bitch sticks included. 

On Sunday we set off towards Salt Spring Island to explore the land of the hippies I had heard so much about! For those of you that don’t know, SSI is a hidden gem just a ferry ride away from Victoria. From what I heard, it was where the free spirited artists congregated to escape the big city while still maintaining that west coast vibe. I envisioned barefoot, topless women roaming around wearing nothing but crystal jewelry and crowns made from dainty flowers. To my surprise, I wasn’t far off. 

Narwhal’s…on the walls

Exploring the island filled me with a sense of calm and relaxing energy. Our Air BnB was the most adorable cottage decked out in printed wallpaper, shag rugs, and a giant blue velvet couch straight from the 70’s (I secretly wish I lived there FT). The view was breathtaking, the shops were eclectic and full of personality, and the go-to cafe made a killer london fog latte. For a split second I had forgotten that this weekend was intended solely to reconnect with the man that had given me life, I was content, comfortable, tranquil even. 

I didn’t quite realize it at the time but there was a major shift taking place in the background. My feelings of anger and resentment were becoming a distant memory as I began to discover who this man really was and the obstacles he had overcome to get where he is now. He is human. He made mistakes, we all make mistakes. He was making an effort to get to know me and was nothing but kind and considerate to both myself and my ex girlfriend. That had to count for something right?

It’s taken me a couple of months to process that weekend. At this point, I am able to acknowledge my emotions and delve into a deeper understanding of myself along with my past traumas related to fear of abandonment. It’s a work in progress. Bare with me as I unfold the inner workings of my daddy issues. 

Forgiveness Will Set You Free 

It is never too late to let go of the past and choose to forgive someone that has hurt you. Forgiveness creates space, initiates healing, and allows inner peace to flourish and expand into all areas of our lives. Holding a grudge or walking around resentful is detrimental to our overall happiness and robs us of our precious energy! Energy that we can alternatively channel into our creative pursuits rather than our own demise. 

I am a fairly optimistic person (or idealistic, depends how you spin it). Remaining optimistic even in the darkest of times can  feel like a blessing and a curse, and yet this very mindset has carried me through a plethora of negative situations throughout the course of my life. I believe that people possess the ability to change, to evolve into a refined version of themselves by embracing hardship and tuning into the lessons sent to us from the universe #blessingsonblessingsonblessings.

I sat down and thought to myself, “If I have changed as much as I have over the last 12 years, chances are that my dad has too”. Lo and behold, I was right. 

It’s genetic

Letting Go  

At times, my anxiety likes to trick me into anticipating the worst case scenario. I don’t recall exactly what happened to trigger such a thought but I remember thinking to myself, “Would reaching out and trying to make amends feel any worse than the pain I’m currently experiencing? Am I really better off in the position I am now? How can I take control of my situation and allow myself to truly heal from my past trauma?”. 

I didn’t want to continue carrying around my daddy issues, I was over feeling as though every relationship in my life was temporary and everyone would eventually leave. I didn’t want to fear abandonment while subconsciously recreating it in my relationships with others. I was done pushing people away in an attempt to protect myself from being hurt and alone. I wanted to set myself free and the reality of that meant facing my darkest demons and most gut wrenching fears. I chose to let go. 

Letting go doesn’t erase the past. Instead, it allows us to continue living without the emotional burden caused by the aftermath of our traumas. It is a gentle reminder to accept our experiences for what they have taught us, and move forward despite our suffering. This theory applies to almost any situation and it’s important to note that everyone’s journey is parallel and unique.

It’s truly remarkable what can transpire by shifting our mindset and trusting in the wondrous powers of the universe. Learning to be gentle with myself and pushing the constraints of my own mind have taught me that there is always an alternative way to view certain situations and events. We can rewrite our stories at any point in time with a little faith, a little courage, and a whole lot of love. 

This is only the beginning. Building a relationship with my father at 26…wow. I never thought I would hear myself say that.

Island vibes

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4 Comments

  • Reply Chris

    Very well said, your father is a great man and I know he loves you. I have know him for several years and he has spoken of you many times. It’s great that you gave him a chance, he deserves it. I am happy for you both and wish you two all the very best.

    November 13, 2019 at 4:46 pm
    • Reply beautifultrainwreck

      Thank you! I really appreciate the kind words.

      November 16, 2019 at 3:23 pm
  • Reply SS

    Hi Keisha, This is beautifully written!! As are your other posts! I really enjoyed reading through your blog.

    I am a friend of your Father and your Uncle. I remember when you came to live in Victoria, it feels like forever ago. I heard all about your weekend here and am glad that it was a positive experience this time. Maybe we’ll get to see you next time you are in town.

    November 13, 2019 at 5:17 pm
    • Reply beautifultrainwreck

      Thank you so much!

      It was quite a long time ago. It was a great experience and I’m extremely relieved we are able to move forward despite the past. Maybe we will see each other again someday 🙂

      November 16, 2019 at 3:22 pm

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