"Nothing hurts me... I don't cry. I don't know what feelings are... I don't get sick... I'm a jock... I was working today, you know 'work,' something you wouldn't understand... Who's that good looking guy in the mirror? Oh wait..." - stuff my dad says
In honor of Father’s day this year, I’m dedicating this post to my dad, the man who is constant, stable, and strong in so many ways. And as a disclaimer, I’d like to start with what I know will be my dad’s initial reaction upon reading this: “Why are you writing about me? I could sue you for that.” I’m pretty sure it’s his way of saying: “Thank you for sharing about me in your blog. I know it’s something your very passionate about, and it means a lot that you would write about me, even though it also worries me a little, because you know I have anxiety and don’t like to be put in the spotlight, but don’t let anyone know I have anxiety, because I’m tough and strong and nothing is wrong with me.” (Well, sorry Papi, you’re going to have sue me for a lot with this one.)
Me and my dad have a special kind of communication. I’m a words person, and he isn’t. It’s actually difficult for him to express his love and appreciate through words, but he does try for me. And honestly, I don’t verbally express a lot of things to him either, because that’s just not what we do. So, I guess I just want to let him know what he has taught me, given me, and why I’m so thankful for him. So, here is everything I hope my dad knows that I don’t think I’ve ever said, or maybe haven’t said enough.
Responsibility and Dependability
My mom sometimes tells me the story of when she first found out she was pregnant. My parents were both twenty, only been dating for a few months, and I was a complete unexpected accident. My mom, being the very independent woman she’s always been, told my dad that he didn’t have to help her. She gave him permission to leave her life, and said she wouldn’t ask for any help financially or in any other way. But my dad didn’t take her offer. He said he would be there in my life 100% and wasn’t going anywhere. And throughout my life, my dad has always been there, being involved in my life and supporting me in all I do.
Self-Respect and Dignity
My dad has always treated me the way he wants any important man in my life to treat me, with love and respect. The best way he has saw to make sure I receive respect is to first respect myself. He’s given me many rules concerning boys, the first rule being: “Stay away from boys!” But others include: “Don’t ever drive to a boy’s house. Let him come to you. Let him take you out. Don’t stay in his house or yours. Let him pay. Support his passions and choices if they’re good. Don’t ever put him down, and walk away as soon as he puts you down or disrespects you. Don’t date someone without a job, a car, or who isn’t going to school.” Some of these may seem sexist and outdated, but my dad has always meant them as a way I deserve to be treated, which is like a princess.
My dad is the kind of man who backs his words with actions. I’ve discovered these past few years that my dad has taken me and my sister on the best dates I’ve ever been on. He likes to find events that are going on, such as a chalk festival or a book fair, and then he takes us. He’s also never talked down at me, belittled me, made me feel stupid, or cussed at me. My dad is very careful with the way he speaks to me and around me, and I expect the same kind of language from anyone in my life, but I also make sure to give the same respect to others. My dad has also taught me how to walk away. There are people we don’t need to engage, whether it’s an argument or people doing something we don’t agree with. He doesn’t give his opinion, he doesn’t say a word most of the time, he just walks away.
Motivation and Resilience
Something I’ve really appreciated from my dad this past year especially is how motivated he is and how much he tries to help motivate me. This past year and a half has been incredibly hard for me for quite a few reasons. First, I learned that post-grad depression is a real thing. Leaving school when it’s all I’ve done my entire life is a rough transition, especially when I had no idea about what to do with my life. Second, I became even more depressed for other reasons and factors in my life, mostly dealing with uncertainty and transition. Third, I’ve just felt stuck for the past year and I hate this feeling.
My dad was the first person to know that I was depressed, long before I realized it or could admit it. So, he took steps to help me and try to motivate me. He emails me articles he finds about happiness and motivation. If I have an idea like going to a museum or library, he finds a list of them and sends them to me. He’s encouraged me a lot to find a new job. Though I sometimes feel like he pressures me a lot, I’m also so thankful that he is the only person in my life who has been helping me this past year to not feel stuck anymore. I don’t think he knows how much it means to me that he has been trying to push me out of my feeling of immobility. It also means so much that he’s been so constant about it. He won’t give up until I’m happy and motivated on my own again.
What gives me the most hope is to see him get through it first. A few years ago, he had lost a lot when the recession hit and he became depressed and stopped caring about anything. But he got out of it, and though I’ve seen him feel stuck, I’ve also watched him start his own business, and take steps to be happy, energetic, positive, and encouraging to himself and others. My parents are the strongest people I know, but my dad has own special kind of strength. He doesn’t let anything keep him down. He gets out of it, and he keeps going, and watching him do that is the most inspiring thing, because I refuse to stay down too and I know I’ll get through this.
Strength and Understanding
As I mentioned earlier, our communication is kind of weird. I feel like almost every time I first tell him something (or the first few times), he doesn’t actually listen, and I don’t quite listen to him either because we’re both stubborn. So, we get into the same “debates” repeatedly until one or both of us cave and we come to an understanding. But I know that we always end up listening to each other, because that’s the kind of people we are. My dad takes into consideration what someone else is struggling with or going through and I think that makes him strong, because he is willing to change or compromise his thoughts, opinions, and actions for someone else. He doesn’t always do this right away, but he’s strong because he works on it, and not a lot of people have the strength to work on themselves so much.
For my life in particular, I know there’s a lot he wish he could do more about. He steps back a lot to let me grow and learn on my own, and he places trust in me and believes I will figure it out and get through it. I know it’s frustrating to feel like he can’t help me with things I need help with, but that feeling of helplessness doesn’t stop him. He finds other ways to help me, such as encouraging me, or hugging me tightly when I see him, or teaching me how to be positive. And to be positive when things in your life are going bad or not as expected is a strength that I’m still learning from him, and it just seems like he’s mastered it.
A Good Person
My dad is the type that first teaches by example, and then by words. He is the best role model that me and my sister have for how to be a good person, and how to live a life with strength, compassion, and respect. There are so many things I admire about my dad. He is firm in who he is. He is tough, generous, stubborn, loyal, competitive, and kind. But I think one of the best things he has shown me is how to compromise and give a little to help others who need it. If he’s busy, he’ll make time to give me or my sister a ride, or just to spend time with his family. Though he’s opinionated, he’ll keep it to himself if it’s not helpful. And even though he’s stubborn and “tough” and not comfortable expressing himself with words, he’ll still try whenever I need it.
I saved this text he sent me once when I was really upset about a boy. It happened only a few years ago. I found out that a boy I really liked didn’t like me back, so I called my dad crying (because I’m just emotional and sensitive sometimes). My dad didn’t know what to say to make me feel better. And by the end of the phone call, I was still crying. So, even though he thinks I should never cry over a boy, and even though he thought I shouldn’t waste my time with boys while in school, and even though he doesn’t have the right words to say when I’m sad, he still sent me this text after the phone call, and it made me really happy:
“Sorry baby I’m not the most comforting person. I was raised to kill so it’s hard for me to make people feel better in bad times. Just always remember you are extremely special and when the right guy comes around he’s gonna be the lucky one. Luv you and always smile.” (*my corrections added)
And that’s my dad. Someone who will go out of his comfort zone to help someone else. Someone who is selfless, and considers others and puts their needs first. That’s who I strive to be.