Father’s Day is a great day to celebrate a dad, grandfather, or other father figure, that man in your life who has always been your hero, teacher, inspiration, and protector. Sometimes, though, that is not reality, and Father’s Day can be a very unhappy day.
So this is for you.
This is for those whose father isn’t there anymore in this life, who have lost their fathers. For some, it is the first Father’s Day without being able to see their dad or talk to him on the phone, with the acute awareness that it will never happen again.
And this is for those who struggle every year, looking at the cards with all the nice sentiments that would simply be a lie if you sent it to your father, because he WASN’T there for you, ever, because he’s not the hero or inspiration or yada yada yada, who leave the greeting card aisle frustrated and hurt and reminded of what was SUPPOSED to be, but isn’t.
The tv is filled with sentimental commercials about the rock solid dad who teaches the kids important life lessons and is the larger-than-life hero deserving of a steak dinner followed by a relaxing afternoon on the hammock with a glass of lemonade. But those bear little resemblance to the father you grew up with (or without), who gave every excuse in the book for why things were so messed up.
Father’s Day can be a reminder of just how unfair life can be, and you try to keep it together as you scroll through all the happy, smiley Facebook posts of friends honoring their fathers. All the while, there is a great big lump in your throat and part of you wants to scream and break through the empty facade.
The death of a father, whether the relationship was great or rocky, makes Father’s Day difficult.
Maybe you are in the awkward place of trying to enjoy your children honoring you while the memories of your own dad issues cloud Father’s Day, possibly to the point of not being able to appreciate your own blessings.
Or perhaps you know that, in a few hours, you will be suffering through trying to act like everything is ok for the awkward Father’s Day dinner, biting your tongue all through the meal, imagining (and wishing) that you were anywhere else but here. Literally anywhere else on the planet would seem better.
Emotional wounds arising from a dysfunctional family can be truly debilitating. The helplessness of abuse and molestation can create great anger inside, as well as shame or depression.
When a father does not or cannot love his child like the child needs, or if he is absent for whatever reason, then Father’s Day can seem like a great big mockery.
It’s ok to cry or yell. It’s ok to call a friend. It’s ok to BE where you are, because it hurts, and the sappy commercials and Hallmark cards may be painful reminders of what isn’t, and what may never be.
Know that you are not alone this Father’s Day. There are people all around you who are going through stuff, or who have been there before. Some are coping better than others. Some are putting on nice, happy smiley faces and pretending everything is fine, while the truth is that they are crumbling inside.
Reach out to a friend and tell them what you are going through.
Post this on your wall, and say, “This is me. Today is NOT a fun day for me.”
Hopefully those around you will pause in their happy day, and put an arm around you and say, “I care.” Or maybe they will send you a few words to let you know they’ve been there too. Or come over and watch a game with you. They may even thank you for being honest enough with your pain that they are able to acknowledge their own torment.
Being able to tell your story is validating and healing. Maybe those around you can’t make it better. There are some wounds that nothing anyone can do can make better. But there is a whole lot that we can do to make the pain more bearable.
So, if this is a Happy Father’s Day for you, great! That is wonderful. But if Father’s Day is a difficult day for you to get through, know that there are other people who are struggling to get through this day as well. You are not alone.
[images via bing]