Why I Finally Stopped Looking For My Father

(Photo: Shutterstock)

There is a father-shaped hole in my life story. I don’t mean to make it sound like it’s some kind of tragedy; it’s just gotten to a point where acknowledging the existence of this gap, this missing piece in the puzzle, has become essential. At least, this is what my therapist said during our most recent session.

When I was a teenager, I had this recurring fantasy that went more or less like this: one random day, on my way back home from school, I’d come home to find my father sitting on the couch of our tiny living room. In the awkward atmosphere there would be a pinch of excitement and joy. I would envision myself looking at him with careful zeal, which would later turn into awe. In a rather grandiose way, he would say something along the lines of “It took me a while to find you guys, but I finally made it.” Then, my mother would take a seat next to me on the other couch, and the three of us would have a long, just-a-tiny-bit uncomfortable conversation, filling each other in on what we had been doing all those years we had spent apart. That’s where the fantasy ended.

I had no idea what would happen after that imagined conversation; and, to be quite honest, I’m not sure that I wanted to think about it. For all I knew, the man could be married and be the father of other kids too. Maybe he was a terrible father, or maybe he was the best there ever was. Would he want to see me every other month, or would he just be content with having met me? You get the point: there were just too many possible scenarios, some happier than others, and at 14 or 15, I just didn’t want to go through all the trouble of sorting that out.

The truth is that I never suffered for not having a father figure. It was never a big deal. My childhood was almost idyllic. I never wanted for anything. I had all the love I needed, and as many material things as I could have hoped for; not even at times when we went through financial difficulties did I feel that I was missing out on anything. My mother somehow made it all happen, by herself. She also gave me the rarest gift any parent is capable of giving a child: access to “The Whole Truth,” as I like to call it.

I was eight-years-old when my mother first told me “The Whole Truth” — the full, unabridged story of how I came to be and the soap-operatic circumstances of my conception and birth. I will keep the details private, but suffice it to say that knowing what had happened was, for me, like lifting a veil which had stood between me and the world. From that day on, I thought twice before believing everything I saw or heard. I realized, at such a young age, that no matter how much love there is between two people at any given time, there is always one person who loves more than the other. Life’s circumstances and evolutionary biology are the two factors that end up defining our choices and our destiny. At eight-years-old, I realized that things were much simpler and less romantic than what most kids imagined them to be.

When I fantasized about meeting my father, it was not because I expected him to stick around. I wasn’t going to parade him in front of my classmates; just the thought of that makes me uneasy. What I wanted was to look him in the eye, and to touch his hair. My mother had told me that he wore it long back in the day. I wondered if he still kept it that way. I wanted to see if we really looked so much alike as she told me we did. What would he smell like? So many questions, several of them shallow, but still valid.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000410329016 Heather Rachel-Marie Stockton

    Absolutely beautiful!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749363658 Bere Parra

      Thank you, Heather!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=571096257 Angel Fernandez

    The feels! I am still hopeful that I get to meet mine though. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749363658 Bere Parra

      Hi Angel, may what is best for you happen! x

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=563097558 Elisa Anguita Veas

    this was beautiful to read ♥ thank you for sharing, it takes guts.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749363658 Bere Parra

      Thanks for reading, Elisa! x B.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1247335878 Myriam Everdeen

    I got to meet my father three times. Since we were leaving 5 miles apart and that his mother lived across my aunt’s house, i’m surprised it didn’t happen more often to be honest. Maybe it did and I didn’t know. Who knows. Anyway i met him for the first time in a store, I was 12, I didn’t even notice him. My mum told be back in the car. The second time I was about 16 and it was once again in a store. He took her daughter buying socks. He said he would call or come visit. He never did. The last time I met him was at his mother’s funeral. He never let me meet her while she was alive but I figured he couldn’t do anything about me going to the funerals. I met a lot of people in my “other family” this day. Most didn’t even know who I was until they saw my mum and made the connection. I talked to him really for the first time, I was 19 and all I could think of was that I couldn’t even understand who the young, gorgeous and strong man on the pictures turned into such a weak and pathetic guy. He said he would call, I said he wouldn’t. 5 years later he still didn’t. And I am so glad that he didn’t. Meeting him “for real” my myself was such a disappointment. But now I know that i’m better with him out of my life. I will always be his daughter but he will never be my father.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749363658 Bere Parra

    Hi Myriam and thank you for taking the time to comment and share your experience. Your story could definitely be what would have happened had I ever met my father – and it shows how important it is not to idealize the father we may never meet, or the one we might never have a relationship with. It makes us stronger. B.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1362955362 Denys Thompson Hartsfield

    Just a week ago I met mine.
    And I said to my honey, “If only I would have met him when I was younger and less jaded.” I told him about the little fantasies when I was a rebelous teenager, that my father would appear to save me from my doldrum life because he struck it rich and wanted his beloved daughter back!
    Now I am 43, and I have a hard time reconciling this person as a parental image. And its not that I am bitter or angry. I actually had a man who adopted me and loves me as his daughter. I don’t have a father sized hole in my life because I have a Dad. The only word I can think of to describe meeting this man is… apathy.
    Part of me worried that this would hurt him. That my lack of enthusiasm would be painful. But then, I didn’t care if it was… I mean, his lack of enthusiasm hurt me quite a bit in my childhood, so why should I even care about his feelings? But like I said, I’m not bitter or angry… just apathetic. And yeah, I could tell that he had much higher hopes for a relationship with me than I was willing to give. He had to ask for a hug when we parted… which I begrudgingly gave.
    And even though I can see all kinds of good reasons to have another person be a part of my life, just another person to care about me and mine… I can’t just manufacture feelings for a person that at one point in his life chose not to be a part of my life. As a mom, I can’t even fathom giving up one of my children.
    And now he wants to meet my kids… ugh.

    Thank you for sharing your story… it helps to hear from others… to know I am not the only one feeling these things. After all, there isn’t a how-to book out there for this kinda stuff.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749363658 Bere Parra

      Thanks so much, Denys! It was very helpful for me to read about your experience – wow. It’s very similar to one of the possible outcomes I had imagined had I ever met my father. You’re so right – it’s important to talk about these things because there is no ‘guidebook’ and all we have is each other’s different experiences and stories, to make sense of our own. Sending love!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1639663259 Marina Belli

    I first met my father when I was a kiddie, at the time I thought he was just a new boyfriend of my mother’s. I have just a vague memory of this guy on our apartment’s door and my mom telling me his name.
    Later, I was 9 or 10, my mom came to me and said: “Do you remember that guy? Well, he’s your father, your real, biological father. He’s very ill, he will die soon. He wants to recognize you as his daughter. Is it ok for you?”
    I said it was ok.
    “Do you wanna meet him?”
    I said no. I don’t know why I said no, can’t remember what pushed me to say no after years feeling I was something my unknown father forgot along the way..
    Fast forward, I’m 18 years old. With my mom and other relatives from my father’s side, we go to some bank to settle some monetary matter. And there I discover I have 2 older siblings and meet my father’s widow.
    I still sometimes indulge in the fantasy of “what if I said yes”, but I guess it would have been even messier than it is.
    I envy the gift your mother gave you. I’d pay to know The Whole Truth, but I still don’t know it and can’t convince my mom to tell me. I guess I’ll never know.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749363658 Bere Parra

      Marina, thank you so much for sharing your story. It moved me a lot. I hope you get to know The Whole Truth – we all deserve to know our full stories. xx

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=510232466 Jenelle Bennett

    My dad disappeared when I was about 4, and a year ago I finally found him. I have to say, in my own experience, it was really life-changing. At first, it was tough because of course the past had to be addressed, and it was hard for me to tell if he even wanted contact with me. But now he calls all the time, and while we don’t really have that father-daughter relationship (wasn’t expecting that anyway), we are like good friends. The reason I want to say all this, is because it really helped me release the bitterness I had toward the whole situation, and I’m not constantly wondering “what if…” It’s almost like I can’t even remember what life was like before we started talking. If anyone else is in the same situation, and you’re trying to find someone, I used a website that you had to pay to find someone. I can’t remember the name, but there are many out there. It cost maybe $5 for a week’s trial (I canceled before it ran out so I wouldn’t get charged a full month) and it actually worked with no hassles. I had searched for his info online for years, and if I knew it was that easy I would’ve used that website a long time ago! I hope I can help someone out there with this!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749363658 Bere Parra

      Jenelle, thanks so much for sharing your riveting personal story. I’m glad that you at least now have some sort of friendship with your biological father. At one point I did consider ‘hiring’ someone to find my father but it just didn’t feel right to me. However, thanks for bringing that out – I’m sure many others would like to find their father that way. Big hug!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=74500136 Misty Dawn Elder

    I’ve felt thst way myself. I finally met him 2 years ago but at agr 32 it was far from the significant meeting I always imagined. I’ve only spoken with him a few times meeting my grandparents, sister, and niece had a bigger impact on me than the man that had been missing my entire life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1002201778 Dejan Magdenovski

    I feel as though the moment you realize you don’t want to meet him, that there is no void he can fill, is a real turning point in one’s life. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a father figure, but it is a pretty powerful one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019261158 Rebecca Walker

    I love your beautiful writing. Your perspective is also interesting to me personally because my childhood was the opposite of yours. My dad lived in a house with me, my mom, and my younger sister. It was a highly dramatic, exhausting, miserable life. I dreamt of leaving as a means of self-preservation since I was five years old. I never felt a part of a family or that I would be missed if I left.

    I did leave and cut ties with my whole family during high school. There was no possible way of keeping in touch with any of them without it sending me back to a downward spiral. Even after leaving and moving across the country, I always felt like my dad was going to find a way to hurt me. Recently, (I’m now 39) my dad died and I felt like I could breathe again.

    My 19-year old nephew contacted me after this and I have met him and introduced him to my husband and our daughters. My nephew seemed to feel a version of that void you describe regarding my absence from his life. It is a little difficult for me to understand why he had the desire to know me, but I am glad I know him now.

    P.S. Yay, your mom!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749363658 Bere Parra

      Rebecca, I am humbled and moved by your comment. Thanks for sharing your experience – you are right, it’s kind of the opposite version of mine. I’m sorry your relationship with your father brought you so much stress, but it is good that now you have more peace. Life has a way of smoothing or ‘evening’ things out. It’s great that your nephew reached out to you, as well. A positive family connection is always healthy, perhaps. My mother also read your comment and she says THANKS :)

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