The Moment I Learned What Having a Loving Father Feels Like
Love is commitment, respecting even when you disagree, growing together, honesty, and equality. It feels as if you are up in the clouds, with no worries or stress. It is affection and companionship. As a baby being born into the world, it is expected that your parents give you unconditional love. Without love and care, it is impossible to survive in the world as a child. Your parents’ love helps you grow up and jump through obstacles in the real world. But they are not required to love you, and some choose not to.
When I was in 3rd grade, my mom and dad divorced. It was something that didn’t really hit me too hard considering my dad did not act as any father should to their children. I was constantly being put down and yelled at by him. He never gave me the love a father should always give their child. Later, I found out he was not only abusing me but my mom as well.
I grew up thinking that his abuse was okay because it was all I ever knew. I remember when I was 5 years old and any time I would knock on my dad’s bedroom door, I would be screamed at until I physically could not cry anymore. It was almost like a war at our house every day with my “father”.
He was not my father.
I could never give him that privilege. His name was all he deserved to be addressed as. All my good memories with him have been overtaken by all the bad energy he has created.
I was 6 years old. A snow globe has shattered in my room, and I got a glass shard stuck in my foot. At any moment, you would think your own father would come to save you, especially at a moment when you are terrified. But my dad did the complete opposite. I cried to him and his response: yelling at me about getting blood on the floor. “Look at the mess you made on our brand new carpet! When will you learn to be smart for once in your life?!” He screamed at me and my heart pounded and terror stabbed at my heart. My vision was blurry from the tears and all I saw was this tall figure towering over me screaming his lungs out, my mouth felt dry. A man I used to call my dad had slipped away to be a stranger that I had never known. He did not care about my safety anymore. He never did and that was the day I realized.
Every day, I felt like a failure. I felt like every time I tried to talk, my fear of him pinned me down. There was a fight in our home every day, whether it was between my mom and dad or my dad and me. I never had the confidence to fight back, although I knew I was strong enough. He was the monster under my bed that told me I wasn’t good enough. He was my nightmare, and I had to live through it every single day. My heart was torn apart so many times, and there were so many pieces that needed to be put back together.
Shortly after my parents’ divorce, my mom found a boyfriend. I was in 5th grade and I was very opposed to the idea considering how her last relationship ended. All I wanted was for my mom to be happy and for once, she finally seemed to be enjoying herself. With my dad, my mom always had her head down and lacked color, but at this moment, she had the brightest smile on her face and it seemed like her world regained color again. Although he almost seemed too good to be true, I didn’t want to get my hopes up too quickly.
A while after I met him, he pranked me with a bowl of flour on the top of my door. We were already able to have fun and laugh together. He continued to do his pranks and to this day, he still sometimes thinks he can get away with them. Although they frustrated me at the moment, I am so thankful to have those connections with him that I never had with my biological father.
Any time he felt like I was in danger, he would run, jump, speed, anything just to get me out of the situation. Every time I went to visit my biological dad and things would go down, he would instantly run through lava to get me safely back home. He was my counselor and tutor when I had several anxiety attacks over my simple math homework. He listened in annoyance to my angry rants, but always found a way to talk me into comfort. He hardly ever yelled, it was always peaceful and calm. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had an actual father figure. He never failed to make me laugh and there was not one time when I was too scared to share my feelings with him.
When my mom was still with my biological dad, I always looked at myself in the mirror and told myself, “You are weak. You can’t stand up to him and you never will. You will remain unheard.” But with my mom’s boyfriend, I stood in the mirror and felt invincible. I started to build good relationships one by one like I never had before.
Even my peers around me would tell me how much happier and better I was. Even on my worst days, he would simply just say, “I know you want to smile,” and as much as I tried to hold back, I never could. He was now my father.
Whenever people asked who I looked up to in my life, he was my number 1 answer. Sure, I have friends and family who make me happy, but no one has stepped in to be my father when my real dad couldn’t like he did.
On March 21, 2014, he asked my mom to marry him. It came as a surprise to me when my mom came home telling us that she was engaged. Tears shed from my eyes as I was so close to being able to officially call him my dad. Their wedding day was on April 29, 2016. I have never experienced my mom getting married and this was a moment that I could never forget. He loves my mom and I could see it in his eyes. Listening to their vows made me laugh, smile, and sob all at the same time.
It seemed so insane to me how much of an impact he has made on our family in such a short amount of time. Although I already considered him my father, their wedding made it feel much more real.
He put my needs before his own. He would take a bullet for me in an instant, as I would for him as well. He helps me live my life to the fullest. My dad is charismatic and lionhearted, creative and honest. My dad pushes me to challenge myself. I don’t know what I would do without my stepdad, the constant laughing and smiling, hugging and crying, rough patches and pep talks, confidence and relief.
His steadfast love has changed me in a way that no one else could.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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