Father’s Day often brings up many emotions for many people. For the one’s who have lost their fathers and for the one’s who have shunned or been shunned, or disowned them, my heart goes out to them. They, like myself, didn’t choose to live their lives without a father. Nor did they elect to not celebrate a holiday in which is meant to celebrate one of the most important people in their lives.

However for many, the word father is nothing more but a hollow word. As Prince William once said speaking of his mother, the late Princess Diana, “However, for many, including me, it’s now really just a word – hollow and evoking only memories.” While for many their fathers may have not left this world, there are many who have had to make the inexplicably hard decision to have to say goodbye to their own. For many, including myself, they are blessed with a stepfather who loves them in every way that a biological father would. One who would protect them as if they were blood. I am blessed that in leaving my toxic father behind my mother found someone who provided everything my real father could not… love and guidance. While I realize how lucky I am for that, there are also those who are not so lucky. Those who have had to say goodbye to their fathers because they were so toxic to their lives, that is all they brought to their lives. While that was true for me, I had someone step in.

I am very aware that losing a parent and having to walk away from one are not the same in anyway, and I do not claim them to be. However, from first hand experience it does not make this day any less hard or painful. The person that gave you life and perhaps at once gave you joy, is gone. I am sure many will not understand why people such as myself have left the men behind that brought us into this world to protect and love us, but for those that do, know that I understand it.

I know what it feels like to not have a male role model to look up to, idolize, and want to be like; and be hurt and ashamed they don’t care. Whether they weren’t around, were verbally or physically abusive, broke your family apart, or even broke you; I know. Wishing you had someone to go to and have conversations about life, love, money, or anything you unbearably get to watch your friends do with their father. I know. A dad who takes care of their mother, instead of leaving her, cheating on her, and leaving her to raise his own children while he gallivants around the world with the mistress he married. Thankfully and hopefully a lot of you had mothers like mine, ones that are strong, resilient, and would not let a man break her at any cost. A woman who not only can hold her own, but who could not only bear the burden of being and father and mother at the same time, but do it better.

I know what it is like to wish you had a dad around, but that he was never nice to you. One in which worshiped your siblings, but made you feel despised and not a part of. One who you tried so hard to make you love you, or at the very least like you, yet you never could succeed. He always left you feeling defeated and unwelcome.

While some may call it cold, crass, and disrespectful to cut a parent out of their lives, for those that have had to do such a thing, the reasons are clear as day. Just as anyone else, when someone mistreats you, mentally and verbally accosts your family and the ones you love, and manipulates you in every direction… you make the decision and realize that this person has no right to be in your life. It is one, if not, the most difficult decision that I have ever had to make. Yet it is something I think about every single day. Was I not good enough? What did I do wrong? It makes it worse knowing they care to be a vital part of your siblings lives and yet simply ignore you for many months or years on end. Have I found peace in this decision? Absolutely not. I do know however that is has begun, and in time, hopefully will bring my life much more peace and a brighter existence into my life. Did I make the right decision? Honestly, I do not know if I can ever know that. But what I do know is that my self worth and happiness, and what I will and will not tolerate, are more important than succuming to emotional terrorism.

When even you try and relate on the few things that you have in common, and they resist, it is a devastation all on it’s own. You can’t force someone to be a parent, especially one who has admitted that they never wanted to, and felt pressured to be one. Even though I have walked away, I wish my father no ill will. I hope that one day he does find a sense of peace, as he has everything else in life that one could dream of. A doting wife, extreme success, wealth, the estate; everything you think would make someone happy. But deep down, I know he suffers. He however, does not have it in him to ask for help and change, try to be the father I know that he could be. The father I wish he was. I whole heartedly pray that he finds the joy that he deserves, that everyone deservers, but has struggled to find his entire life.

Father’s Day is clearly meant to celebrate dads, but there are others to celebrate at the same time. The mothers who took on double duty, the stepdads who love you like their own, your mother’s best friend who stepped in to protect you, and even yourself. I have made a decision to be happy, to live a better life, one free from seeking the approval of someone whom I thought would always be there for me instead of hurting me. I was lucky enough to have a mother that not only stepped up as the strong independent woman she always was, but also found a man who loved her children too. They are my role models and the ones I look up to, they are the ones that I chose to celebrate today. They together did the work of four parents combined. With five children between the two of them, they did an amazing job. For that I am eternally grateful. Even more so for the family I gained from my mother finding the right man; who have always loved, supported, and championed me. I feel lucky and saved. For step siblings that I love, and the rest of his family who could never give me what my father’s family couldn’t. For those who aren’t so lucky, celebrate the ones in your lives who have been your life champions. Whether it is friends, mentors, or other families that actually deserve to be in your life, choose to celebrate them.

While it is just one day a year, by god’s grace, it is still a day that makes many including myself feel down. It is a terrible feeling being betrayed by someone you love, but if I am I honest I believe that one day they will experience it themselves. Even if we have had to walk away to save ourselves, you can chose to be the victim or we can learn from the mistakes of our fathers.

In owning our choices and walking away from grief’s shadow, it is still a grief that is never entirely lost. When one recalls how wretched these decisions and heartbreak can make you feel, be it worthless, betrayed, or wanting to dissolve like a soluble aspirin. Please remember this, while Father’s Day may evoke only memories and bring up tangible reminders of the loved ones we have lost or left, celebrate you. Celebrate knowing what you are worth. Celebrate yourself.

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