One thing I will never deny about myself are my “Daddy issues.”

When I was little, I grew up feeling like I didn’t have a father. Sure, I knew who he was. I even went to visit at least once a year, but we never had much of a relationship. He intimidated me and I always felt out of place and uncomfortable around him. I wanted so much to have what my idea of a father-daughter relationship was with him. I wanted him to love me in the way that I wanted, and keep his promises. He wasn’t who I wanted him to be.

When I was 5 my mother found a serious boyfriend who later became my step-father, but I never accepted him as my father. He treated my mother and me very well and never pushed any limits, but he wasn’t MY father and I didn’t want him to be. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I realized that he had always been my dad. He was always there when I needed him to be and he loved me. I understand now that it was difficult to be affectionate with me being a step child because he didn’t want to cross any lines, but he has always loved me just as much as the rest of his children. It took me a while to see that, but when I did. . .I cried. I felt stupid, naive, and immature. It was only a few months later that I asked him to adopt me and requested that my biological father sign off his rights to me.

After I had finally accepted my step-father as my “Dad,” I no longer wanted anything to do with my biological father. In my mind he had lost his chance. When he tried to get in contact with me and have a relationship with me later, I rejected him and told him I wanted nothing to do with him. It made me feel better. I felt content having a mother and father that didn’t involve him and I resented all of the heartache he had caused me.

In the 2 and a half years that I had spent not speaking to my biological father, I got married, had a baby, and bought a house. I was happy, and moving on with my life. I won’t lie, I wasn’t missing my father, nor did I feel like he was missing in my life. I didn’t hate him, I wasn’t angry with him. I just didn’t want anything to do with him.

A few months ago I got a call from my great aunt who told me that my father had breast cancer. Later I found out it was also in his lymph nodes and pancreas. My first reaction was frustration. I had wished that they didn’t call me. I didn’t want to know, I didn’t want to care, I didn’t want to be involved. It wasn’t that I wasn’t worried about my father, it’s the point that I was and I didn’t want to get involved and get my heart broken again. It took me a long time to process my emotions. I didn’t call him or his parents. I didn’t do much of anything. I just waited for it to sink in, but it didn’t. After about a month, I wrote a letter venting all of the thoughts and feelings I wasn’t able to do in the past.

It wasn’t an angry, hurtful letter. It was a letter explaining my actions and at the end I put that I didn’t know him and I would like to get a chance to. About fifteen minutes after I sealed the letter in an envelope, my mother called and told me that she had spoken to my grandmother and the doctors had told her that it didn’t look good. For the first time since I had gotten the news, I cried. I still didn’t know what I was feeling, all I knew was that I wasn’t ready to lose my father. I immediately started planning a trip to Georgia and a few weeks later I drove down there.

It wasn’t until the very last minutes of my trip that I got the talk that I wanted with my dad, but it was exactly what I wanted and needed. He told me all of the things that I already knew, but needed to hear. He told me that he lived his life the way he felt he needed to for HIM. He told me that he was glad that my step father helped to raise me right, and he apologized for not being there. Then he said the words that will ALWAYS ring in my hears. He told me that I was his inspiration, and that I was always in the back of his mind. He told me he loved me, always had, and always would. And he told me that he wanted to make things better.

As I grow older, I learn new lessons everyday. One thing that I am learning is that life is what you make it. I went from being a child feeling like I didn’t have a father, to an adult who is grateful to have two fathers in my life that were always there. I’m also learning that life is a real bitch and if you don’t come out fighting, you’re going to come out crying. . .I would much rather go out fighting.