Guilt is a driving force. I feel it almost every day. Guilt for not liking it. Guilt for feeling all of this in the first place and talking about it.
What I wish someone had told me seems so simple: I am not my brother, I am not my mom, and I am not my daughter. But what I model will shape my daughter. I want to model self-sufficiency and totally falling in love with your own inner being so that one day she can light that fire for herself.
What they don’t tell you is that even though he hurt you, you still love him and would do anything to be with him.
Something that I think it’s important for people to know, including myself, is that my grief is just as valid as your grief. It might hurt less than if my father had been a part of my life, but it still impacted me deeply.
If I were to go back and sit down with the girl with the girl who practiced her first name with last names that were never hers, “you have no idea how great being single can be!” would take up the tiniest fraction of the conversation.
You can do hard things. You can be in charge of the steps you take forward. You can make a new normal for you, and for your children if you have them. Your story is a tale of beauty from ashes. Your pain and suffering are not meaningless. They teach you to be grateful. They teach you to be strong. They teach you to be gracious and loving to others. They teach you to stand up for yourself and take no crap.
My dad was a very kind, very gentle man who had a green thumb and a golden heart. He loved to make people laugh and made people feel at ease. He was very artistic, painting and making music often. He also wrote poetry that described the scenes that played in his head on repeat. I inherited his artistic abilities, his love of music, and the love of creating tapestries with words. I still am told by others that I remind them of him, and I think of it as an honor. He was, and is, my hero.
The exact degree of pain this kind of loss can bring isn’t something that anyone can truly prepare you for, no matter how much they tell you or try to prepare you. However, one thing I saw over and over in conversations I had with people who had encountered similarly difficult things was a desire for more conversation about difficult, taboo, or simply not-talked-about topics. We feel alone and unprepared because no one is sharing their experience with hard things. We are just expected to figure it out on our own.