Here’s the thing.
I don’t want to be my father.
I feel like a traitor writing that. Like I’m betraying his memory or that it means I didn’t love him. What child says such a thing unless they were abused or neglected or badly hurt in some way? And he never did those things. He was a really, really good dad and loved me more than I can imagine and I love him dearly and respect and admire him.
But I don’t want to be him.
And yet…many of the choices I have made as an adult have been things to get his approval. So that he would be proud of me.
Which, over the years, has subtly, slowly, without my even realizing it, morphed me into a version of him. It doesn’t help that we were so alike to begin with.
I don’t mean that I look like him, though the resemblance is strong, or any other outward similarity. And we have very different likes and goals. Neither am I following the same career path that he did or would have.
Yet in making life choices, career decisions, even the activities I chose to spend my time and money on as an adult, there is an obvious-to-me-now-but-why-the-hell-didn’t-I-see-this-before trend of making the kind of choices, pursuing the kind of goals, even sometimes the kind of hobbies that he would have, completely ignoring how he always supported me in finding my own path. But I would do anything to get his approval again.
Getting approval from the great beyond is impossible.
So I kept pushing myself to do more, harder, faster, better, more, more, more, because this thing didn’t get me that feeling of approval but maybe the next thing will.
It is possible to feel like he would be proud of me, but I can never again feel him being proud of me.
And I have literally made myself sick, repeatedly, trying to get this utterly unattainable thing. I have turned the choices that I imagine he would have made for himself into the things that I have chosen for myself, and without even realizing it, made them the things that I thought I wanted. But they aren’t what I really want.
Because I want to love my dad, not be my dad. And honoring him is different from imitating him.
And I can honor him, respect him, love him, and take his often very good advice, in becoming the person that I truly am meant to be.
Which is what he wanted for me, anyway: to see me grow into the best version of myself.
The trouble is, that after so much training in being someone else, I don’t know who I am.
I set out on this adventure with something of an inkling of this, buried and indistinct, just the strong feeling that something wasn’t right, that something needed to change. Over the last year, in traveling down this path, I have gradually gotten glimpses of this idea, hence the name for the blog.
90,000 Miles to Me. Not meant in narcissism, but in genuine seeking. I really don’t know what I want, or what I am capable of if given the freedom to choose something else. Now I have the freedom to explore that a little and it is exciting.
And yet…I have been feeling resistance lately to trying some of the things that interest me. I want to do them, but can’t seem to bring myself to take action.
So instead of pushing through the resistance, which is my default approach, I have been experimenting with an unfamiliar and scary alternative: actually feeling my feelings. Waiting and meditating and talking it through with trusted people, to try to feel out where this resistance is coming from. But I couldn’t for the longest time figure out what was holding me back.
It is simply this. I was afraid of betraying my father. Afraid that seeking my own path would somehow mean that I didn’t love him. But that is my fear and hurt talking, and I will be okay. Because he also taught me to face my fears.
And because I love my dad. I love you, Dad. I love you so much and miss you so achingly much, and will see you again someday. And when I do, you will see your little girl as a beautiful woman. As beautiful as I can ever be, because I will be truly me.
Can’t type anymore; crying too much.