Ending the Relationship

Myra Noralez, Staff Writer

A few months ago I made the conscious decision to end my relationship with my dad.

I had felt this way for almost a year before I actually acted on it. For most of my life, my dad and I never had the typical father-daughter relationship. Ever since I was very young, my parents always had an on and off relationship. Even when my parents were together, I don’t remember my dad being around too much. I remember thinking our relationship at the time as being more of a roommate situation. He would stay in a different room than I would. I sometimes saw him in the mornings, but we didn’t really talk during those times. There were probably days when I didn’t see him at all.

I specifically remember one time, when my parents had just gone through a break-up, my dad sat me down and told me he thought I didn’t love him. Looking back on that now, he was probably right. But because I don’t like people feeling sad because of something I did, I just tried to change myself– but to this day I’ve never forgotten him telling me that.

After he told me that I tried extra hard to try to get him to feel the opposite, but we just never had a true connection. It felt awkward and forced. Years later, I asked my dad to be my escort for Cotillion, because I sensed a feeling in the air similar to the one present when he told me he I thought I didn’t love him. I knew that I should have asked my stepfather to be my escort since, at the time, he was more of an actual father figure to me than my biological dad had ever been in my life. But I didn’t want there to be that feeling anymore. I just wanted things to be different.

One day, years later I woke up and really started thinking about the relationship between my dad and me. I started picking up on certain things he would do or say. I noticed how he only called my sister and I to come over only when there were other people at his house; I interpreted that as him wanting to look like he was a good father to his friends. I thought about how he was happy for me to get my driver’s license; this meant he wouldn’t have to take me to school anymore. Sometimes he wouldn’t call to wish us happy holidays. I noticed how he was with his girlfriend’s kids; I wondered to myself, “Why doesn’t he act like that with us?”

Eventually all these things started adding up and I decided I didn’t want to be a part of it. I felt as if the relationship I had with my dad wasn’t necessary. I didn’t even want to try to work on it with him, because I just felt it was unnecessary and our relationship was already too far gone for recovery. If he didn’t want to try, then neither would I.

Although my mind was already set on ending our relationship, it took me almost a year to say something to him. I kept contemplating if I should just stick it out, because I’d be going to college soon anyways. I didn’t want the act of me telling him my feelings to affect the relationship he had with my sister. I just felt it wasn’t necessary because it felt like the feelings were mutual.

One night, a few months ago, my dad came to talk to me. He told me he knew we had a bad relationship, and that it was pretty much my fault. That second part infuriated me. I knew that yes, I could try harder, but there are two people in a relationship and he didn’t try either.  I knew then that I could not take it any longer.

That next day I called him and said he didn’t have to take me to school the next day, to which he responded why, with the conversation from the night before fresh on his mind. I told him how I felt, including evidence to support my argument. And to my surprise, he just said, “Ok, I didn’t know you felt that way,” and we hung up.

 Initially, I wasn’t sad that our relationship was over. I was sad that he didn’t try to fight for it. I felt like everything I thought about him not caring about my sister and I was confirmed with the way that conversation ended so easily. I wished things could have been different.

What surprised me even more is when he called me back the next day and apologized. I guess it had never occurred to him that I felt that way. He likely thought I never thought about the relationship too much. Through this experience, I learned that not everything is black or white. I was only ever paying attention to how I felt. I was so caught up in making the argument that it wasn’t my fault, in justifying the unfairness of the situation to myself, that I had never considered how he had felt about it.

As I said before, there are two people in a relationship. You can’t just assume someone thinks or feels something when you actually don’t know. If I didn’t assume he didn’t care about our relationship then I could have just talked to him immediately about how I felt, or if I wouldn’t have been so stubborn to begin with I wouldn’t have felt so sad  that year. I look back on some of the things that he did to lead me to my accusations, like only calling my sister and I to come over when other people were there, and now think that he probably  did that because if other people weren’t there we’d be bored. I think back to Cotillion and how I asked him to be my escort when what we really needed was communication. I looked back on a lot of my assumptions and now try to see them from a different perspective, which is what I should have done from the beginning.

Now it feels like we have a whole new relationship. I don’t feel that stiff air when we are together anymore. I can know talk to him freely. It really feels like we’ve turned over a new leaf. It’s always going to take work but I know that I’ve made the right decision in not ending my relationship with my dad.

Myra Noralez, columnist