If you were to ask me about my relationship with my dad, I would roll my eyes and brush it off. I would avoid the topic altogether because it hurt to answer; we didn't get along. For a while, every interaction resulted in yelling or tears. I saw everything as his fault. I resented him more than anyone else. It made me angry because I never saw us fixing it, never saw him dancing with me at my wedding or even being able to eat a meal together. I was ready to leave for college just to get some space.
We didn't understand each other. He was headstrong, and I was sensitive. He was reasonable, and I was anxious. He was defensive, and I was on guard. He liked sports, being around the guys and going to games. I liked babysitting and keeping to myself. We collided like a motorcycle and a semi truck on a freeway. This is the relationship we had for so many years and it seemed like it was never-ending.
One of the biggest issues we had was surrounding my mental health. I was his babydoll when I was little but all that changed when I started having severe panic attacks. I had struggled with anxiety and depression since elementary school. It hurt every time he undermined my mental state and ignored the problems going on in my head. Things would start happening out of my control and he didn't understand. I didn't think he tried to, either. College was no better. If anything, it got worse. I didn't want to keep the cycle going with him, so I never talked to him. I can remember only calling him a handful of times in my first three semesters away, a lot of which ended in arguing.
When his best friend got sick, a lot changed for us. This friend was leaving behind a family, and I pictured myself in a situation like that. It broke my heart that my dad and I had been so distant for so long and all I wanted to do was fly home and be in his company. This scared us both because we needed to change our relationship right then and there.
Then our phone calls became more frequent. We talked and came up with the solution that we call each other at least once a week, even if it's just for a few minutes. I looked forward to our little chats, most of which took place when I was walking my dog or parking my car after work. I was able to start confiding in him through these short calls. When my mental state deteriorated again and phone calls with my mom did nothing but leave us in tears, it was my dad who calmed me down. I started to talk to my dad about anything and everything and he was able to regularly bring me back to reality. He's not emotional, he's rational and for the first time, it started working in our favor rather than cause tension.
I was always so angry with him for not understanding me, but then again, I never took the time to explain myself and he never got the opportunity to listen. We got so far apart from each other when it came to communication it became normal, it was both of our doings. College was the best thing that could have happened to our relationship. We both got the time we needed to separate ourselves so we could both grow as people and come to terms with each other. I was able to move back closer to home and all of our interactions, phone calls, and visits are much more positive. I didn't take time to appreciate the work he puts in for the family and the effort he really tried to put in towards me. We understand each other so much better now, can communicate better now, and get along better now.
Now, I can picture family holidays where I don't end up crying in my room. I can picture the father-daughter dance at my wedding, which I already have a song picked out for. I can picture us being able to go on lunch dates and games and drives down the road ending with both of us being happy. The exciting part is that I no longer have to picture many of these things, we get to do them now.
Dad, I appreciate the effort you continuously put in. I admire everything you have done to change and thank you for being my biggest supporter.