Depression, Mental Health

Memories of My Dad

I’ve been working on a post about God and depression and am having a real problem getting my thoughts together on how I want to say things in it.  So, until I get it perfected, I’m going to post a few things that I had posted on Facebook. These posts are what brought me to my blog.  I just wish I could also post the comments that were made — they were so supportive and uplifting.
Betty M O’Steen

June 19 · Eatonton ·

 Here it is, another Father’s Day on Facebook.  As I sit here and see all the tributes to fathers, I am overcome with emotions. So many people talking about the wonderful fathers they had, the love they felt, the good times they had, and I can’t do that. I wish I could. I wish I had those types of memories of my father. I have searched and searched my brain and my heart and I just can’t find them. I find criticism, abuse, demands, and put downs. Why couldn’t I have gotten what others had? (And I don’t mean this post to be just a “bash my dad” post because that’s not really what I’m doing.). To the public, dad was a successful businessman, a jokester, a father of four precious (yes, we were precious) little girls. But, that was to the public and also to some members of my family. But, that’s not the man I called father. I’m now trying (as I have done all my life) to understand what happened to make our relationship one with no love in it. I always believed (and maybe it’s because that is what you told me) that it was my fault — that I was unworthy, unloveable, not deserving. I think that most of the time I no longer believe that, Dad. I think that I was worthy. I was loveable. I was smart. I was deserving. At least that’s what I try to convince myself of now. I just don’t know where it went wrong. Yes, as a teen, I was defiant. The more you said that I could not do something, the more I was determined to do it. I wanted so badly for you to see that you were wrong. The more you said no, the more I said “Watch me”. So, yes, maybe I brought it on myself. But aren’t parents supposed to love children unconditionally? Shouldn’t you have loved me “in spite of”? I craved your approval all my life but no matter what I did, it was never, ever good enough. Once I realized how truly mean, hateful, and cruel you could be, I set out to hurt you just as much as you had hurt me. Little did I realize that the things I did to hurt you would end up hurting me even more.


But in the end, I did do good things in my life. I finished my education which you said I would never do after having run off to get married. I raised three wonderful, loving, accomplished children — pretty much by myself, I might add. I taught school for thirty years. I deserved your praise, your approval, and most of all, your love. I’ve struggled all my life with the fact that for some reason you, my father, just did not love me. Of course you provided for me — that was drummed into my head during each and every one of our fights. Yes, you bought me clothes, shoes, food, paid for insurance, provided a home to live in — all the necessities, but Daddy, that didn’t ever make me think you loved me. In my mind, those were chores for you, things you did because you had to do and you were always quick to tell me that. But, I wanted you to love me and you just couldn’t find that in yourself to do.

I’ve tried throughout the years to forgive you, to understand why you did what you did. And sometimes I’ve gotten really close to being able to do so. But, I’ve finally realized that in order to forgive you, I must first forgive myself, and that, I haven’t done. I blame myself for our relationship — maybe if I hadn’t been such a little hellion, maybe if I’d made all A’s, maybe if I’d chosen boyfriends better, maybe if I’d made your sandwiches better, maybe if I’d been nicer to Sandra, Sonja, and KaKa, maybe, maybe, maybe……. I could go on forever with the maybe’s and that’s part of the problem. I can’t accept things for the way they were. I can’t accept the fact that you just didn’t love me. I can’t stop blaming myself. And until I do, I will never be able to stop blaming you. I long for the day that I can do so. I long for the day that I can join others in celebrating their fathers. I long for the days when I can search my memory for the good times, for the snippets of caring. Surely there are some tucked away in my memories. I pray constantly that I can remember the good. I pray that I can forgive you. I pray that I can forgive me. All I want is to love you and believe that somewhere in your mind, you loved me. I pray that you found the peace that you evidently searched for in this life. I’m sorry I was not all you hoped I would be.

2 thoughts on “Memories of My Dad”

  1. Betty, I wish I had the right words to say. I pray that one day you can find peace in this seemingly unresolvable dilemma. Keep pressing toward that goal of forgiveness–towards your dad AND with your own self. I have always harbored hurt and resentment from my own childhood because of my daddy’s drinking problem. I’ll never forget it and I’ll forever be haunted by the memories, but years now after he’s been gone I have finally forgiven him. His problem was bigger than him, and it eventually claimed his life.
    Regardless of how hurtful your dad was, and I know it was bad, you must know that he obviously had some serious issues of his own, and as a result it affected his family interactions. It’s sad that he allowed his personal demons to control him when it came to your relationship, but he did. I’m no psychiatrist, but I don’t see where you should claim any responsibility or guilt for how you felt unloved. I pray that you can one day forgive your dad for all the hurt and problems you’ve had to deal with all these years, by acknowledging that HE had deep rooted problems and obviously took his frustrations out on you. And, just like my daddy’s drinking problem, it became bigger than him. I know that without a doubt you WERE LOVABLE as a child, and, as a child you were not responsible for or deserving of feeling unloved! Please keep working through your feelings and know that your multitude of friends are PROUD of you and how you’ve risen above the situation and learned from it and raised a great family in spite of it all. I admire your strength and I have much hope that you will eventually reach your goal of complete forgiveness. You are SO loved, Betty. God will help you, and aren’t you glad that you have a personal relationship with Him, because in this life that is really all that matters. Again, I love you.

    Liked by 1 person

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