The Difference Between A Father And A Dad

I’ve been reading a lot of Sylvia Plath lately. Aside from loving the adagio of maniac depression with a prose, I can’t help but yearn for her distance from her father. I feel the same. You know, abandoned, chastised, and thrown into a burning pit. Always competing with a phantom man who owns my blood. I’ll have to murder my hypothetical husband too, because he will be a spitting image of a man I once called “daddy.” Obviously, I’m speaking of a metaphorical murder, not an actual murder. But they’re pretty damn close. A murder within your soul. A murder of acceptance for a person who you essentially came from. Whose face resembles yours, but no part of your heart flickers with his light.

I have a great father, a loving father. He sacrificed for me, he saved for me, he made changes for me, but I always was his burden. I was seen as this perfect little statue only he could carve. Only he could chisel until I was the statue he wanted to present in a museum of “his achievements.” But Daddy, that is not me. I am not a prize to be hung on a shelf with your otherworldly possessions. Summers in France, weeks in Israel, a trip to the Congo. Scary-faced statues that the French woman told you, “Don’t bring that back to America, it’s bad juju.” But of course you did because you love a good challenge and your pen’s ink is bad karma.

I get jealous of women who are close to their fathers. What it must be like to not be scared to say “daddy.” Daddy makes me weak and vulnerable. Daddy makes me a child who still needs her daddy. Who needs a firm example of this is what love is. I am two people in one. I am a girl who got everything she wanted but was always made to feel like it wasn’t enough. “You can never be happy,” he used to tell me, and oh — how that still hurts to hear. I can be happy, Daddy; you just never cared to see.

You see, I cannot be bought with gifts and trinkets, a pretty new car to stay at the university where my best friend was raped. I cannot bend and change as you wish I so could. I am not you. I am not you at all.

What do our fathers owe? What do we owe them? I tried my best to be a spitting image. Yes, went to Ole Miss and majored in Political Science. Remember, you taught that class in ’86? I tried so hard but nothing would fit. I would do a gram of blow, drink five beers and get in the shiny-white car you bought me for graduation. Drive on abandoned highways at 2AM. Cry on the steering wheel ‘cause God, I was so miserable then. I could not call you, could not tell you these miseries because you simply told me, “I will not hear it.” I left that place, and essentially, I left you. I jumped down from your trinket shelf and sprung my feet from the cold clay. I cracked into a million pieces and in that moment refused to be chiseled. You let me lie there like a broken dish. You did not try to glue me back together; you did not even call for one year. I graduated Summa Cum Laude, got a job after college. But you could not show that you were also vulnerable, that you still cared. You did not bother to tell me “good job.” You look at my work now and tell my mother, “It’s really good, she’s got talent.” But you never tell me?

What do our fathers owe? Maybe an “it’s okay to be yourself.” I never regret my decision to leave, to essentially betray what you had worked for. I owe you everything. I owe you Xanax prescriptions and mental abuse from strangers. Toxic relationships for years and years where arguments were love. It would have just taken a call. A ring of the phone or hell, even an email, to remind me that it was okay to be myself. To jump off the shelf and walk with my cracked-clay legs to a broader bay where I could actually see my reflection in the emerald water. Everything was so murky before.

What do our fathers owe? They do not owe us these moments of so alone, of hazy connections in the back of a cab at 2AM because damn, I need a man. I miss you, Daddy, I really do. I yearn to be that little girl who never made a mistake. Never made my mother cry, never insulted you. I feel bad too, you know its my fault too, Daddy. I am sorry, I am sorry for not being you. TC mark

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