I have never met my real father.
Honestly, sometimes I’m not entirely sure my mom remembers that. In fact, my own mother— the person I consider to be my best friend and biggest role model on the planet— didn’t even tell me I had never met him. For half of my life, she led me to believe my dad was her first husband, a man who I called “Daddy” for years.
Just to make things even better, that same man who I thought was my dad was also abusive. As a five year old, I remember my mom coming home with bruises up and down her entire body. When my mom finally made the choice to leave him, anything and everything made of glass in our small little home was broken into a million little pieces. In a fit of rage, he had broken everything from mirrors to the glass on our coffee table. Later that night, his parents— my grandparents— had left a message on our answering machine telling me to never contact them again. I was six years old.
A couple years later, my mom found another man. He was wonderful and kind, and his family did nothing but shower me with love. He and my mom married shortly after, and then my mom gave birth to my beautiful baby sister. When I was 12, she found out she was pregnant with a baby boy, and that same year, her husband legally adopted me and became my dad. For awhile, I forgot that I ever had anything but a normal family, until I found my birth certificate.
At the young age of 12, my entire world came crashing down, again. I found out that the man who “raised” me was not my real father. In fact, my real father left my mom and me when she found out she was pregnant as a senior in high school. In my young mind, I felt like I had been abandoned by not one, but two different men.
For years, I truly didn’t believe this would affect me. No one ever talks about the fact that my “dad” is actually my step-dad. No one talks about my mom’s former husband, or the fact that I’ve never met my real dad. My siblings, to this day, don’t even know that they are only my half-siblings. Sometimes, I feel as if I’m completely normal.
Fast forward to my junior year of high school. I was 16 and madly in love with a boy from school. Unfortunately, the same year we met, his mother passed away. He became severely depressed right as I was falling in love. The relationship lasted years, and though they were my most formative years, they were also the most emotionally straining. Every week, he would threaten to kill himself, or break up with me, or cheat on me. But I was young, and I loved him, so I stayed and I let him emotionally abuse me. Even though I knew what abuse looked like firsthand, I sat through it because I truly believed that’s what love was. It wasn’t until we were in college that he finally sought the help he needed, and was diagnosed as bipolar.
I was always felt like they were forced to love me, and that they gave me a different love than they gave to my siblings. I felt like there was a reason I always attracted poison into my life, and I convinced myself I could never have genuine, organic love.
One year ago, during my junior year of college, my life got a little brighter. I met a man who was the light and warmth I had always craved, but I didn’t know what that felt like to have until he came around. We quickly became friends. I would tell him stories of the many boys in my life, and he would try and tell me that I didn’t deserve them. He told me and told me. Finally, I realized I didn’t want those boys. I wanted him. So, I told him. And I got him. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
As time went on, our relationship got more and more serious. He loved me in a way that I didn’t think was possible. He worried about me when I drank. He encouraged me to go for my dreams. He assured me. He supported me. And it was all so genuine. But still, somehow, my past stayed with me, and I told myself I didn’t deserve it. So I pushed him. And pushed and pushed.
He told me he couldn’t take it, but I refused to listen, because I didn’t know what else to do. I convinced myself that I never should’ve been able to feel his love in the first place; that someone like me doesn’t get a love like that. So I kept myself from having it. And that will forever be my biggest regret.