I want to put this out there before I stuff these feelings away once again: Now that I am a father, I can no longer make excuses for my father.
His perpetual absence from my life was unconscionable, and though I will deny this in the light of day, I have probably been driven as much by his absence as anything else in my life.
I also suspect that my fierce streak of independence and the extreme value I place upon those who are capable of taking care of themselves and succeeding without the benefit of family has a lot to do with emotional self-preservation.
If I were ever to stop and acknowledge the utter lack of parental (and specifically fatherly) involvement in my life, I might get upset.
But by embracing the need to take care of myself at an early age and cherishing the strength and determination developed through through this forced independence, I am not required to wonder why the people who were supposed to care about me most in life seemed to care so little.
No. Not seemed to care so little. Cared so little.
When I find myself rushing home from work to see my daughter or wishing that she would call my name in the middle of the night so I could go to her crib and hold her for just a few more minutes, I think about how incomprehensibly complete my father’s absence from my life was, and it baffles me.
Sometimes, it crushes me.
Today it crushed me.
Bizarrely, this emotional outburst is credited to The Transformers II, the film that was playing as I began running on the elliptical this afternoon.
As the television switched on, protagonist and father were having a father-son moment beneath battling robots, exploding rockets and crumbling Egyptian ruins, and even though the movie was on for less than a minute before I managed to change the channel, it still killed me.
These moments always kill me.
In this terrible, stupid movie, a boy was saving the world from a race of poorly named alien robots, and his father was unquestionably proud.
I have never, ever felt a father’s pride.
Despite my accomplishments, I have never known a father's admiration or love.
I suspect that this has played an important role in who I am.
My inner drive and desire to succeed is born from many things.
Two near-death experiences and a subsequent awareness and fear that I could die at any moment.
An impoverished childhood and a desire to never be hungry again.
A need to prove my worth to myself after a lifetime of so many struggles.
A desire to provide for my wife and daughter so they never have to experience the financial destitution that I have suffered.
The inherent, insatiable, sometimes insufferable need to be the best.
But the desire to make a father who I have never known proud of me is certainly on the list as well.
There are many, many things that people must suffer without in life, but for me, the absence of my father has been the one that angers and confuses and hurts me the most. Especially now that I am a father and know how precious every moment that I spend with my daughter is.
How desperately I want to spend every moment with her.
In many ways, it is this knowledge, and the indescribable love I feel for my daughter, that makes my father’s absence more difficult to bear.
Some days impossible to bear.
I hated the movie the first time I saw it, and now it’s managed to ruin my day again.