I have tried to write this article countless times, but could never quite find the right words to express how I feel. Until now. In my family, we have a saying: “Grandpa can fix anything, but a broken heart.” However, I believe that he can fix that too. Perhaps unknowingly, he fixed mine. Now this isn't some sappy story about how he pieced me back together after a particularly bad breakup with a boyfriend. For I had my heart broken by my father before any boy had the chance. Let me explain through a list of reasons.
You are the reason that I don’t drink. You are the reason I have difficulty forming successful relationships. You are the reason that even ten years later, I still remember the hateful words that you said. You are the reason why feeling trapped gives me anxiety. You are the reason that we stopped talking. Although you like to shift the blame onto everyone except yourself, you are the reason.
But you are also the reason why I am thankful.
I am thankful that I have such wonderful people in my life who were able to take your place. I am thankful that you have taught me what unhealthy relationships look like, so that I never end up in a situation like that again. I am thankful that you have made me stronger without you. I am thankful for the unbreakable bond that you created between my mother and I. I am thankful that you allowed my Grandpa to be the strong male role model in my life that you were incapable of being.
After raising four girls, I don’t think that my Grandpa was expecting to raise another, but along I came. I cannot thank him enough for the time and effort that he put into helping me grow up to be a strong and independant woman. To me, it’s the little things that made the world of difference: Four wheeler rides, berry picking, coloring together, watching little league every summer, playing catch on the couch, taking pictures of the wildlife that wandered through our forest, performing science experiments, having extensive conversations concerning life and the universe that continued well into the night, and just spending endless quality time together. It is also the constant reminder that I am beautiful despite my own self doubts that keeps me going. When I hate my curly hair, you love it. When I protest wearing a dress, you remind me how pretty I look and promise that I can go back to pajamas soon. I love our inside jokes that we share and how you love when Grandma and I bake for you. I love that you love so unconditionally and with such ease. I hope to love that freely someday. I think I am well on my way.
Whether you realize it or not, through doing all of these things, you have taught me to value my own self worth. Through you, I see what a father and husband should look like. I see that I should settle for nothing, follow my dreams, and always believe in myself. You have proven to me that you will always be there to catch me if I fall and place me back on my feet. Your wisdom always astounds me and you can always manage to fix anything that I set in front of you. Even myself. All of these little details are how I know you fixed my heart, even though I didn't always show you that it was broken.
I would not be where I am today without the help of my mother who was strong enough to leave, my grandparents who were kind enough to support us through that difficult time, and the many other friends and family in my life who showered me with endless love and reassurances. This article is not meant to tell my life story, or to reopen wounds from the past. What’s done is done. Rather than focusing on the negative, I want this article to serve as a message to anyone struggling with a similar situation. Look around you. Although the world seems like a scary place right now, you are likely to find people who would be more than willing to play a part in you life.And just for the record: my Grandpa