This week, my dad quit his job. To understand the implications of this, you must know a bit about my backstory. My parents married and had me before they were 20. My father is Native American and my mother is white. My father’s family didn’t (and still don’t really like) my mother. So there was a pull right from the beginning of my dad leaving the matriarchal society of his tribe to be with my mother in the patriarchal white society.
This has negatively impacted my dad so much. He left everything he knew about how a family should be run to go into a society where he was expected to do so much more than he was used to doing. In Christianity my dad was supposed to be the head of the household and the main provider. That’s not how it worked in his tribe. The women were heads of households. They made the most important decisions.
My father has had a history of quitting his job and leaving my mother and us kids in snowy Illinois to return to his family in Oklahoma. He always leaves around the time of year of his younger brother’s passing – autumn. Then after the holidays (and around tax time), he would come back and we would try to mend our lives.
This was awful. There was no sense of stability and there was more than a bit of resentment towards him and my mother and my extended family. We aren’t really sure why my dad keeps doing this.
Most people have stopped caring or trying to help when he leaves and give us looks of disgust when he comes back. But those people aren’t in the predicaments my family is in. First, my family is poor. My mother has a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education but that doesn’t make much money. So having two incomes is definitely better than one.
My mother is a Christian and her church believes that people shouldn’t divorce and they should try and work on things. For the children. But when this happens more than once, then it is my mother’s fault for trying to make things work. There are so many societal and economical reasons why my mother does what she does.
Back to the heart of the matter. I stopped trying to figure out why my dad keeps leaving my sophomore year of college. What I’ve gone through in my life is just as traumatic as children from divorced parents, except it keeps happening. I’ve got all kinds of daddy issues.
But I’ve learned to let it go. It was killing me. I was drowning in the hurt and self doubt and questioning my worth if the one man who was not supposed to hurt me, left me. What did that make me? Unlovable? Unworthy?
If I had let this negative thinking and talk influence my whole life I would not be where I am today. I’ve realized that my father is going to do what he is going to do. I can’t influence him in any way. I can’t convince him to stay in my life and be a good parent. I can’t make him not quit his job. I can’t keep him away from his extended family.
I can’t begin to understand why he does this. I’ve learned to accept him as he is. He may not be a good father every day. But I can’t let his actions determine what I think about myself, my family, or anything else in my life.
Does it still hurt? Yes. Will it ever get easier? No. My dad may be a good person but a bad dad. He may be the best son but the worst person. It isn’t up to me to judge him. And I’m one of the ones who has the most cause to judge.
People are going to do what they want to do. Trying to understand why will only bring you more hurt and restlessness. I’ve spent years wrestling with this. I can only do so much. Then I have to give the rest to God and let God’s peace take over my heart and soul. I’ve forgiven my father for being who he is. I can’t expect him to act in the way I want. I’ve just learned to live with who he is and love him anyway. Even when it hurts.