Thursday, April 23, 2015

Why I'm Thankful for My Estranged Father


Let me start with a little back story. I've been estranged from my father since my parents divorced when I was twelve, eighteen years ago. My decision to sever my relationship with my father was 100% mine and mine alone. My mom didn't sway my decision, nor was I some angry teenager trying to prove a point on something. I knew what I knew, had hard facts to go on, and I made the decision on my own. And I've never looked back.

Sure, it was not an easy choice, especially at that age, but one I have always felt confident about. I'm a very moral, ethical, rule-following person and tend to have relationships with others who are like minded; my father is not one of those people and I knew this at the time of my parents' separation. Plus, I'm a loyal person and my mom was the person to which I chose my loyalty.

After my parents divorced and up until recently, they have lived about a mile from one another. You can only imagine what that was like for me; the constant wonder if I was going to run into my ex-father at the grocery store, the gym or at a city function {all of which happened at some point over the years}. Mutual family friends or neighbors talking about him to me like I cared what he and his new family were up to. I already knew these things because my three other siblings still had relationships with him {whether court ordered or not}.

I've seen him at family functions over the years, like my sister's wedding and my brother's funeral. I've not introduced him to my children, nor do I have plans to. And do you know why? Because we're estranged and I made a good choice.

People have often asked me over the years if I've ever considered trying to rebuild my relationship with my father. Neighbors and parents of my friends, my in-laws and even my husband at one point have all asked me this very personal and insulting question. Insulting because by them asking would seem as though they thought I made the wrong decision all those years ago. I know I didn't.

I never considered trying to form even the tiniest of connections with my father over the years. I've never felt like I missed out on anything, I never had 'daddy issues', and I had a really wonderful upbringing thanks entirely to my mom. I can even go as far as saying that he isn't someone I gave much thought about; until I became a parent.

Before I had my kids, I didn't really dwell on the things my father chose to do in his life because they didn't affect me. After all, we were estranged and lived on two separate planets. Let me tell you though, within weeks of becoming a mother, and over the years as I've grown into my role as 'mommy,' I've thought about and picked apart every horrible thing my father has done as a man, as a member of society, but most importantly as a parent, with renewed eyes. His negative actions have taught me so much about how not to be a parent that it fuels me to be as good a parent as I can be.

And for this, I'm thankful.

I'm thankful that I will never crush my children's hearts for the reasons in which he did mine. He was my father just as much as I'm a mother to my children and yet, the main difference between us is that I try unrelentingly every second of everyday to be the best mother I can be to my children. I am by no means perfect and I might not always get it right, but I get up each morning and I do my job the best I can and with a moral compass. I try and that's more than I can say for him.

I can happily say that I have some very fond memories of the relationship my father and I shared before things fell apart when I was 11 and I lost my father. I hold these memories close and I'm thankful for that person he was so many years ago. However, I've come to appreciate the parenting lessons I've learned through our time apart, our estrangement, and will continue to pride myself on the decision I made eighteen years ago.


29 comments:

  1. You have such a beautiful outlook on this and I'm so glad you feel so strong in your position. As you said, there's a reason you walked away. I can't imagine having to make that choice myself. go you for sticking with what you believe, and being thankful for the experience.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, these decisions are never easy. Have a wonderful night and thank you for reading! xx

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  2. Sometimes there are just people that should not be involved in our lives. I had to cut out an aunt that I was really close to (I know not exactly the same thing) and while it can be hard to do sometimes it is necessary for our lives.

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    1. I'm sorry you had to make that choice, but you are 100% right when you say that some people just are not meant to be in each other's lives. Thank you for sharing! Have a nice night. xx

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  3. It's 100% ok to kick a family member out of your life. Something my extended family cannot understand but I fully do. There are so many bs expectations put on you by people who should have your back sometimes!

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    1. Thank you for that, I totally agree. Thank you for stopping by...have a great weekend! xx

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  4. You have so much insight into your situation which is wonderful! I can't imagine it has been easy over the years, especially with him living so close, but the confidence you have placed in your decision is inspiring! Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt piece of your life :)

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    1. Thank you, I tend to be a bit stubborn and when I make a decision, I stick with it. I'm glad I made this one. Thanks for reading and for your thoughts. xx

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  5. Wow, your positivity and ability to make sense out of your situation is inspiring, Ashleigh! You are going to be an amazing parent. Thanks for sharing something that may have not been easy to open up about!

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    1. Thank you. Recent events are what gave me the courage to write about these feelings and I'm glad I did. Have a wonderful night xx

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  6. You seem to have made a decision that you feel good about and have no regrets. That's rare! I'm sorry for what you've suffered over the years. It's great that you are using this experience as a stepping stone to being a better parent than your father was.

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    1. Thank you...I guess it's pretty easy not do things that you know hurt when someone has already done them to you (if that makes sense, ha). But yes, I have no regrets and hopefully never will. Thank you for reading! xx

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  7. This is so hard for me to wrap my head around, mostly because I would do anything to have my dad in my life and to get to meet my babies. I lost my dad to Cancer while he was still so young. I'm sure you have good reason for your decisions and I applaud you for sticking with your decision and being able to talk openly about it.

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    1. I'm so sorry that you lost your father and I would never wish that on anyone. I'm sure he would have been a wonderful grandfather to your babies. Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful night! xx

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  8. I applaud you sticking by your decision for yourself but I would not be insulted by others asking about your decision. I don't think they mean to be disrespectful, people change and people change their minds. I have had a situation similar to yours…but after many years I forgave (I was holding bitterness). I realized that my decision was taking away from my children. You can take this for what it is worth because I don't know your situation, but maybe your children would like a grandfather. Maybe your dad will be a GREAT grandfather to your children…you'll never know until you give your children a choice to meet him…and your dad a chance to spoil them. Of course it is your choice and who am I to say…but I know one of the biggest regrets when people die is not spending enough time with family. My father is very sick right now…and I can't help but think about how life is so short and so precious. We ALL make mistakes and should be given the chance to redeem ourselves…Thank you for your perspective! It was very well written =)

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    1. I appreciate you sharing your story, I only wish my father had changed and become someone who I wanted to reconnect with. Unfortunately, he is not. Recent events involving him are what drove me to write this post because his recent actions only solidified my decision back then. I hasn't changed and he has hurt a lot of people in his wake. I would be doing a dishonor to my children by having him in their life. I'm so glad you got to have a relationship with your father and were able to forgive him...that takes strength. And I'm sorry he is ill now. Thank you for sharing your story! xx

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  9. thanks for sharing your story and props for sticking to your decisions

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  10. I think it's great you've found the positive side of a bad situation.

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  11. I'm a believer in doing what you feel is right. My husband and his father have been estranged for years. It makes me sad, but there are reasons. That is what we feel our family has to do right now.

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  12. As a person who also made a conscious choice to sever relations with my father early in my life, I do know where you're coming from. My father was not a good person, and I was always very comfortable not having a relationship with him. He has since passed away, and I did choose to see him before he died.. not to forgive him, not really for him at all.. I saw him for me. I think I just needed to see how powerless he was, and all the hurt he caused.. that had no power either. It was very.. freeing. When he died, I did not attend his funeral and I don't mourn him now.. but I made peace within myself, and thats what it was about for me. I guess if I had any advice to give, not that you need it as you clearly know how you feel and if that changes, you'll know that too.. but if I did, I think I'd say, be open to whatever you need. Not what he needs.. what you do, because it's not about him. And as the years go by, what you need might change. Just know that that will be okay.. no matter what it is. Hugs.

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  13. I so admire your ability to stand by your decision! For me, as a people pleaser, that is very hard to do. This is a beautifully written, engaging post. Thank you for sharing!

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  14. You are very brave. I'm especially impressed that you stuck to your decision, given that he lived so close and your siblings did not shun him. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  15. Kudos to you for living life on your own terms. I too have estranged myself from my stepdad (my father is deceased). You made a very tough and brave decision.

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  16. Good for you for sticking by your decision! We absolutely have the right to deny toxic people a place in our lives. You have to do what is best for you and your family, and it sounds like you have done just that!

    Thank you for sharing with us at #MommyMeetupMondays!

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  17. We all have to do what we think is best for us, you have a strong will power and have proven it by doing so. Life is to short and we have to make the best of it.

    Take Care!

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  18. It makes me sad that you don't have any kind of relationship - not just because I feel you're missing out on something wonderful( I have no way of knowing that), but instead, because it hurts my heart to think about what must have pushed you to make the decision you did.
    I hope you had some good father figures in your life otherwise and I also hope you father has changed for the better.
    All the best to you.

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  19. Honestly speaking sometimes it is better to live apart, simply to be free. I had some not good relationships with my auntie, trying to build some only because we are kind of a family. But finally I realized that we can perfectly live without each other, our communication brings nothing but disappointment.

    Fan R @TeddyOutReady

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