My bad relationship with men all started with my bad relationship with my father, or for lack of better words my biological father. Patrick may be my father, but Efrain is my dad.
I’ve refused talking about my relationships with my dads because I refused to admit I had daddy issues. I felt that if I admitted to having a complex with my dad, it would insult my mom and my stepfather.
My parents got a divorce before I can even remember. Unlike other kids, I have no memories of my parents being together, for which I’m very thankful. The divorce never affected my family dynamic or caused a lot of feelings of loss in my life.
I’ll admit that my relationship with my biological father has always been strained. I don’t remember living with him, and my memories of weekend visits throughout my early childhood are vague. He loved me, I’m sure, but he eventually slipped off the radar. He wasn’t abusive or a massive jerk or anything. He just wasn’t there.
Because Efrain had a daughter of his own that he couldn’t be around, he understood how important a relationship between a girl and her dad is. He didn’t want to take over the role of father in my life or take over my relationship with the term dad. Efrain didn’t want to betray my biological father, step on any toes, or cross any boundaries. Until he realized Patrick didn’t want to be there.
I didn’t realize how much it hurt Efrain to step aside and watched me call another man daddy. He listened to me talk about all the things Patrick promised me-promises he never delivered. Toys my mom and dad would go buy in the middle of the night when I was asleep. Trips to Disneyland my parents took me on, saying that Patrick was the one who paid for it. My dad held me as I cried when I was thirteen when I met Patrick’s other family for the first time.
Thirteen was the first time I felt loss and anger for something I never had. That was the year he switched from dad to Patrick in my head. It wasn’t until I was fifteen Patrick started to make an effort to be in my life. That was the first time Patrick came to my birthday party. I stopped having birthday parties after that.
I’ve never told Patrick that I’m angry with him. If I’m honest I was for a while resentful even about him, his wife, his kids. How he found a new family. I lived with them when I was nineteen, and I was a stranger living in their house—some outsider who clearly didn’t belong there. It was like he traded me in for something he thought was better. It was like he was embarrassed by me. For the first time, I wanted to know what I did wrong to not be loved by him. Living in the house, I saw how proud he was to be their dad and I felt jealous because he never had the time to be my dad.
Also, I get that Patrick was a teenager when I was born, but so was my mom. My mom was a kid raising a baby, and Patrick didn’t step up even when he got to his 30s. It just seems unfair. I think it can all be boiled down to Patrick not having the maturity, parenting skills, and emotional intelligence to try to stay present in my life. I’m sure he wanted to but didn’t know how, probably not knowing where he fit and didn’t care that much to learn. He probably didn’t even know where to begin being more active in my life than he was at that point.
Now I’m an adult, and our relationship is complicated. We don’t know how to communicate with each other.
The worst part about me never telling how I feel is he still thinks that his words and actions have no effect on me, but they do.