What If? (could have just as easily been titled ‘Daddy Issues’)

It’s not enough. It will never be enough. But it is at the very least a reconciliation of what is left of the broken and lost child within… and more than I could have hoped or asked for.

The voice in my head says: “Give them what they want to see. Show them you are harmless, and they will let you in. Let them feel like they are in control of the situation. Go ahead and beg for what you were owed, what was taken from you”. Then when the door cracks open, and a sliver of you shines through, I can feel your warmth immediately. You stand up to greet me and the first thing you do is hug me. It was like you knew all along it was what I needed. It was like it was also what you needed.

I didn’t cry like I thought I would. I was too swept up in the feeling of pure joy. I finally get to look into your eyes. I finally get to hear your voice. I am seen by you. Our connection is palpable and effortless, despite how nervous I am. When I get back to the hotel, I need to cry but can’t. I remember a dreadful pop song that I heard on the radio on the way here. My throat is tight. Suddenly the lyrics fit, and the floodgates open. I needed you. I needed you more than you’ll ever know. I didn’t even know how much I needed you until now. This can’t be it, not knowing another year will go by before I have this chance again. So, the next day I surprised you at lunch and your smile lit up the room. I just needed to steal a little more time. I tell you that I needed to find you, and you say “of course!”  so easily. I can’t help but love you. And I hate how much this is everything to me.

I wish it were different, that I didn’t have any choice but to blindly love a stranger with half of my DNA. Maybe if I had parents that weren’t delusional and self-centered, or were at least people I could have had an intelligent conversation with. Maybe if they weren’t the children in my life, and if instead, I had that opportunity. Maybe if my conception wasn’t a mechanism for control over other people, purchased from a facility with standards lower than a puppy mill. When I needed parents, I instead had to be strong and put my feelings last. I had to navigate my teenage years, directionless and empty, a void to be filled by predators well into my adulthood. I thought ‘If someone could just love me for me, everything will be okay’. But I learned that love always comes with some kind of self-sacrifice. I found out people don’t love you, they love an idea. Some version of you that props themselves up. Worse, you are either the weaker person, nursing their ego, or the stronger person playing the fool.

What if things were different, and you were there to encourage me as a child, allowing me to dream? What if as a teenager I had self-confidence and didn’t seek affection wherever I could find it? What if the predators didn’t steal away my trust in others? Who would I be? Who am I now? My biological father was a man who valued family. It is obvious to anyone that meets him that he is a kind and sweet man. But this man was not meant to be my actual father. He lived a life that wasn’t meant to have me in it. Because of a choice he made. He was the one who opted to have me, and not know it. I wish I could be angry with you, my sweet, lovely,  yet elderly dad. And I am left with all of these unnameable feelings and no place to put them. I long for a past, home, and family that didn’t exist, but I feel somehow should have. What was the point of having me? It is as though I was placed here in this life to fill the voids in other people’s lives. And now, I don’t get to be my own person in this world. At least not without a considerable and ongoing conscious effort on my part. Not without years of therapy in hopes of healing into some emotionally healthy version of myself. They say you can’t live in the past, and that you shouldn’t ask things like ‘what if?’ But for me, asking ‘what if?’ is the only way I can finally face the monster that created all of this. I needed you, dad. I needed you so, so badly, and right now, I don’t know how to move on from this realization.

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