I had just shut off my computer and packed it away to take to the studio when a song came on my Pandora that I had never heard before. It was by Kesha and it was called “Praying.” I’ve never been a Kesha fan, and I’m not a huge fan of pop music, but this one felt like it was speaking right to me. If you have ever struggled with deep, dark pain, and felt the riptide of unforgiveness dragging you under the current, I urge you to give it a listen. It may just help you learn to float above the waves.
I have buried these feelings deep down inside me for most of my life, but over the past month, they were abruptly dug up and exposed to the world against my will, so I’m doing what I do best in hopes that my raw pain and openness will help someone else: writing about it. If my story touches just one person and speaks to them, my 26 years of pain will have been worth it.
My biological father doesn’t want me.
That one sentence outlines everything I have done, will do, have felt, will feel, everything I am today. It is harsh and all things negative and while it comes to my mind, daily, hourly, by the minute, haunts my dreams and makes me think irrationally, leaves me in depths of depression and has brought on thoughts of suicide, it has also defined who I am today. I am who I am because of what I’ve been through, and I keep pushing upward.
He knows me and knows who I am. He knows what I’ve done and accomplished. He knows how hard I strive to be the best version of myself at all times, no matter how exhausting it is. He knows how I push to try and live out what I preach: kindness, genuineness, love to all. He still doesn’t want me.
When I was 20 years old, I decided I wanted to meet him. My mother warned me, but I fought against her wishes, and I’m actually glad I did, despite what I feel toward him now. She was right about everything, but I needed to know for myself. Years of not feeling worthy of love, not understanding why someone who is supposed to be my parent, doesn’t want to love me, has shaken me in a way that only this particular circumstance can. But as I grow from this experience, I realize, “It’s not me, it’s you.” My heart is rubbed raw, but it’s beginning to feel again. To heal again. I refuse to let someone who doesn’t want me, to dictate how I live my life. So as I listened to this song by Kesha, and realized I wasn’t even crying, I realized that I just wanted to write it all down. I’m ready to forgive…not for him, but for myself. I’m putting my self first and I’m set on healing my own wounds. Forgiving someone who would never ask for forgiveness is one of the toughest things I have ever done. It makes me sick to my stomach and makes my insides turn, but I will forgive. I am better than harboring heartbreak.
I wrote the following excerpt a few weeks after he cut me from his life for good, when he forced our wedding to be canceled.
To Finally See The Sea
They say the eyes are the window to the soul. While I believe that to be true to some extent, I think even the kindest, calmest eyes can harbor a hurricane of destruction caused by rejection, pain, grief, heartbreak. Sometimes the most genuine people in the world, are exactly who they are, because of the painful lives they’ve led. The best way to make sure no one else goes through what you have experienced, is to educate them and lead by example.
I am a product of the people around me. Each of those who love me have given me a part of themselves in one way or another. Puzzle pieces that make up the larger picture of my life, all given to me by my family and friends. I am who I am, because of who they are.
From a young age I learned what it meant to pursue my dreams, no matter the obstacles. My mother became pregnant with me at the young age of 19. She raised me while also working full time to support the both of us. She didn’t get to go to college right away but graduated with honors when I was 10 years old. She had 2 children by this point, and pushed forward to make the Dean’s List. At age 42, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer and won with flying colors while remaining a true rock for our whole family. She had strength I didn’t and courage I never thought I could muster, but she taught me how to stare fear in the eyes and challenge it to a dual with a smile on my face. I got all of that from her, but the only thing I got from you were my eyes.
When I was four years old my mom married a wonderful man. We didn’t see eye to eye most of the time, but as I grew up I learned to see that just because he was a tough man of few words, didn’t mean he didn’t love me as his own. He doesn’t say much but that’s okay; his actions have always spoken- yelled- louder. When I couldn’t afford new tires on my car and they were going flat every time I drove, he saved up and paid for it without my knowing. I tried to thank him and he wouldn’t take credit. That’s the kind of man he is. Sometimes when I’m explaining my family situation to someone new, I refer to him as my “step”father; not because he’s not my real father, but exactly because he is. We may not share blood but we share a bond that cannot be unhinged. He is the man who “step”ped up and he deserves every title of “Daddy.” For a few years, blinded by my desperation to have a connection with you, I thought that you had given me my entrepreneurial spirit. I later learned that wasn’t the case at all. THIS man, who pushed me to save my money and get a full time job at 15 years old, who helped me apply to jobs and who I have seen work 14 hour days at his own business for as many years as I can remember- THIS man gave all of that to me. All I got from you were my eyes.
Time and time again my fiancé has shown me what it means to truly love someone, with every ounce of his being. It was picking me up from our front lawn in a tear-stained heap and carrying me inside when I found out you had shut the door in my face, yet again. It was coming to find me at 2am on a week night because in a rampage of depression and self-loathing, I had snuck out and driven down the road contemplating suicide yet again because of the damage you had caused. It was asking me to marry him despite the baggage he knew I refused to let go of even though my body and mind were too weak to carry them, so he carried them for me, never making me let go, just encouraging me to for my own sanity. It is the way he stays positive and even-headed in every storm, when I allow my boat to be rocked ferociously. It is the way he makes sure I know he loves me, because I constantly doubt that someone can possibly love me, after knowing that you refuse to. Relentlessly reminding me that I am wanted and loved, though I am sure I exhaust him with my constant questioning. He has shown me in infinite ways how he loves me and how to love others unconditionally despite my pain, but all I got from you were my eyes.
My mother- and father-in-law are relentlessly selfless. Each of them have dropped everything they were doing to help me when I was in need. Whether it was driving 3 hour round trip up to Charleston to tow my car back in the rain, spending 4 hours shopping at a wholesale bead show or working countless hours to help finish the bus, they never expect anything in return. They give and give and give, and just like Matt, remain positive and happy through it all. I have learned so much respect, so many life skills, and how to lend a hand to anyone who needs it without expecting recognition, from them. The only thing I got from you were my eyes.
My best friend has shown me how to unapologetically be myself in a world that pushed me daily to conform. He has shown me how to love all people without limits or expectations. My other best friend has shown me how to be good: a good person, a good friend, a good everything. She has a 100lb. heart of gold and kindness and light that has made me a better person by the truckloads. I learned to stay true to myself and make my own path in this world from my younger sister. Watching her blossom into exactly who she was always meant to be, is a reward within itself. My little brother has shown me how to give until I feel like I can’t give anymore, and then give keep giving anyways. These people all taught me how to be the best version of myself, at every chance I get, but all I got from you were my eyes.
You won’t be taking who I am with you this time. I’m anchored in my own sea, surrounded by my family and friends in lifeboats, just in case I ever feel like I’m going under again. I grew up always wondering what I got from you and now I finally know the truth: The best parts of me were never found in you, and I’m thankful the only thing I got from you were my eyes.