I never quite fit in. I think most of us felt that way at some point in our life. Because I had been raised Christian, I was convinced it was because I was “not of this world”. For one thing, that sounded very romantic. My discontent had a source and it was Heaven… where, obviously, I belonged.
I thought this must be doubly true because I didn’t fit in with my family. They were everything I wasn’t. I had always been just a little bit more serious-minded while they were outgoing and full of fun antics. From an early age, I sat around just thinking and observing what was going on around me and, a lot the of time, being disturbed by some of it. My biggest hang-up was being shy. I didn’t “get” the other kids, and they didn’t get me. If this was evidence of my celestial roots, I didn’t know what was.
Well, the part of the story that I constantly overlooked was the fact that my biological earthly father had been missing my entire life. I wasn’t like anyone on my mom’s side of the family and, even though she told me I was a lot like my dad’s family, her suggestions were hollow and meant nothing to me at the time. You can’t possibly know what it would be like to have there what had never been.
On top of all of this, I felt guilty that I didn’t feel connected to my adoptive father. Even though he had been there since I was four, he never felt like “daddy”. I tried and tried to induce that “daddy-daughter” relationship people always talked about, but it was impossible. I secretly resented this man, too, which didn’t help matters. Even though he had been there for so long, he was more like an intruder than a dad. Those feelings only made my guilt deepen… even though I had absolutely nothing to feel guilty about and he gave our family, a lot of the time, plenty of reasons to resent him. I will say that he tried his damnedest to be a good father; as I’ve reached my mid-twenties, I realize a 24 year-old man is very poorly equipped to marry a 30 year-old woman with two kids.
I was sixteen when I met my real dad for the first time. The circumstances of our meeting were less than ideal, given the fact that his father (my grandfather) did not have much time left and was essentially saying his goodbyes. After an awkward encounter at the hospital between my mom and step-dad and my real-dad and his wife, we all headed back to my grandparent’s house where my real-dad took turns going on walks with me, my brother and my mother. In that short period of time, I realized he and I had a lot in common. It was shocking because we had never spent time together, but our similarities were striking. Suddenly, I had an interest in this man who hadn’t been there.
After meeting, we e-mailed back and forth for years. He had always wanted to meet up with me and my brother (as he lived in Vegas at the time and we were in Texas), but I wasn’t ready. I was 22 (a month away from 23) when I finally decided I needed to really know him. I called him out of the blue the week before Christmas and we ended up talking every night for at least five hours, which was just awesome… for both of us.
He decided to fly me to Oklahoma for Christmas (where he was staying at the time… this man gets around!) and I actually flew in the day-of. It had been my first flight since I was about five which made it all the more memorable. Once we met up and started visiting, it was like something just clicked. I often told people “it was as if my soul knew he was daddy”. I think the reason it wasn’t quite like that when I was sixteen was because I hadn’t gone to meet him with the expectation of finding “daddy”. I had a dad and this guy was more like a ghost my mother had always told me about. At sixteen, I was too introverted and apprehensive to be very open. By the time we met up the second time, I had been on my own and done quite a lot of self-discovery already. He just turned out to be the missing link.
Meeting him has completely validated who I am. Suddenly, I know exactly where I fit in; I know exactly why my brain operates the way it does. Sure, my dad and I are still different, but what’s the same really outweighs the differences. Also, after spending a considerable amount of time with the rest of his/my family, I see other missing links. It’s been absolutely incredible… and for more reasons than just explaining most of my weird quarks.
When I met up with my dad at twenty-two, I was deeply submerged in my Christianity; he was deeply submerged in grief. He was searching for answers while I was confident I had them. This started a dialogue that has continued to this very day, dealing with religion and the meaning of life and whatever else that entails. I would have, literally, given my life in defense of my faith at the time, and I nearly had him convinced it was the real-deal. Well, thank the Cosmos; he could never swallow any of the garbage completely. He challenged me and I challenged him. Sometimes, it got heated… but he was way too important to me for this subject to ever really come between us.
I’m a month away from twenty-six as I post this blog, so it’s been three years since we really began our relationship. I cannot express how grateful I am to know him. I could let resentment for his absence cloud my love, but I refuse to. If I hadn’t known what life was like without him, maybe I would’ve never known what it was like to truly have him in my life. I may have remained a Christian simply because I would’ve taken his presence for granted. Even while completely immersed in Christianity from a young age, I still felt empty. If he had been there the entire time, I would’ve felt whole… and might’ve thought it was Jesus and not my daddy.
Right now, as hard as things can be in my life, I feel completely validated. When the Christians told me not to think, I counted my thoughts as a partition between myself and God. When they demonized what made me who I am, I loathed who I was. Now that I’m able to embrace myself for what I am, and know that I really am not alone, I don’t need Jesus. I’m a good person because I hold myself accountable to myself. I’m not moral because some celestial being tells me to be, but because I want to be… which says more about my character than anything else could.
Thank you, David Archer, for being my daddy. You’ve made my journey more than bearable… you’ve made it absolutely priceless and exciting. I couldn’t ask for a better father. You are the root of me and I’m so proud to tell everyone in the world!