My sister sat proudly on my real dad’s shoulders. She had told him that her feet were hurting her and so he picked her up and carried her. After a while my feet hurt too and I complained non-stop. “My feet hurt so baaaad…” I whined and whined.

Our day finally ended and I remember my read dad pulling his belt off and whipping me for complaining so much. It was the first and only time that he ever spanked me. I couldn’t believe it. I was so upset, not because of the spanking, but because he never picked me up and carried me. My feet did hurt, but more than that I wanted his attention, the attention that he gave my middle sister doing very little to hide the fact that she was his favorite.

Over the years my real father continued to wound me with his lack of attention. He came in and out of our lives doing more harm than good, making promises that he rarely kept, inflicting wounds on me that he couldn’t possibly begin to fathom.

At 17 my real father wanted to take me to dinner for my birthday. He hadn’t called all year, hadn’t visited, but suddenly he must have wanted to play the father role and so he had given me a call. By this point I had built up some resentment towards him and I actually took a bit of pleasure in telling him that my step-dad was taking me to dinner that night and “could we do it another time?”  He responded somewhat tersely, “Well, call me when you have time.”

I didn’t call for 10 years.

When I turned 27 I thought that I had forgiven my real father for his transgressions. I told myself that people make mistakes, they often don’t understand what they are doing to someone. I made excuses for him. When my sister called me and said that he wanted to get together for dinner I said “Sure.” “Really?!” She was surprised and delighted. Unlike me she had kept up with him all these years. They had dinner monthly and she bought him birthday presents.

We went to dinner and made small talk. There were no big speeches, we just acted like everything was fine. We didn’t mentiont the fact that he had missed out on my entire life. We ate and at the end of the meal I hugged him and said, “I love you” – but I wasn’t really sure if I did.

I’ve always been an extremely forgiving person. I can normally let things go, especially if someone apologizes. However, the wounds my real father has inflicted on me are wounds that I deal with every single day of my life. It’s like waking up with a gaping hole in your side and trying to forget that it isn’t there or who caused it. My wounds are a constant reminder of how desperate I was to be loved by him, desperate to understand why he wasn’t around and why he didn’t want to be a part of my life.

Now I’m desperate to forgive him so I can be rid of the pain, but the fact that he doesn’t call me still burns a little. The idea that my own father isn’t desperate to be with me stings because if I had a son there isn’t anything in this world that could stop me from being with him.

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