Healthy relationships & my relationship with my dad

I have always had really healthy relationships.

I had three boyfriends from the ages of 20-26.

All of these men really saw the innate essence of me and appreciated it to the extent that they could at the time.

Really to the extent that I could allow myself to open and be seen by them, if I’m being really honest.

They mirrored the amount that I was accepting myself.

I was reflecting on this today and was wondering about it. I’ve joked to my friends that I’ve actually had a pretty “vanilla” sex life.

Aside from like.. one guy I casually dated for a couple months – I’ve generally felt really loved in my relationships.

So many women have these crazy and wildly entertaining stories of their love life. I think part of me has always felt envious of that, in some ways.

When I first realized I had a crush on Jordan I really wanted to push it away. To pause it, at least for a little while. I felt like I was “finally” going to have the free sex life that I had always dreamt of, had always thought I wanted. I was going to get to be single in LA – I could only imagine all the fun times I would have, the parties I would go to, the people I would meet.

And it was a big moment for me to admit to myself that I had never had it because I actually didn’t really want it.

I preferred the “boring” option of going from relationship into relationship.

Today I was sitting with this and realized that I think a giant piece of this comes from my relationship with my father.

My friend Olivia wrote a really stunning post the other day about her relationship with her dad and the way she has integrated the ways she sees and relates to him.

My dad and I have moved through a lot together.

When my parents divorced 5 years or so ago I really demonized him.

I could not comprehend that he would leave us. I refused to see his side. And I went back through my childhood and formed narratives around things that weren’t really true.

I wanted to believe that he hadn’t shown up for us in so many ways, that he was always angry, that he had been a bad father.

I only looked at the places I felt hurt by him and I lashed out at him for that.

There were actually a few months where I would not speak to him at all, and removed him from my life completely.

It took me a while to realize that many of the places I demonized him were qualities that I had not yet accepted about myself.

Something that I have realized when reflecting on my childhood was that my dad always saw and appreciated the most innate parts of me.

The way I do a little skip when I feel so happy.

The way I leave unfinished mugs of tea all over the place.

The way I ask a million questions and am so curious about everything.

The awe and wonder with which I see the world.

My openness to life.

All of these things were deeply seen by him. Pointed out, and I knew that he loved them about me.

My dad used to play me the song Sun Green by Neil Young at 11 years old and tell me that it was about me.

It’s so funny, when I hear that now. I can remember sitting in his truck and hearing it over and over again. Wanting to like the music he thought was cool. And I did.

When I listen to it now my eyes always fill with tears, about how he really saw me, even at that age.

Of course there were moments from my childhood that I still felt hurt by, as an adult.

It was true that he was angry a lot. I was not taught to handle conflict well.

In the end of 2019 my dad told me he wanted to have a better relationship with me.

I wrote him a letter about all the ways I carried hurt from our relationship. I did not blame him – I just shared what was getting in the way of us having a closer connection.

He received this letter and sat with it. And he printed it out and spent an hour and a half on the phone with me, going through it piece by piece, owning each part of it.

Not making excuses, but letting me into his life a little bit.

Explaining why he did some of the things he did and apologizing for the places where he didn’t know better at the time.

Telling me where he felt hurt, as well. And explaining the places where he’d like to change.

My dad and I both did a lot of our own individual work to get to the point where we could have a conversation like this. (He actually paid for a lot of my therapy, many years ago).

That conversation truly still feels like one of the biggest gifts I have received in my life.

I have told him that it will stay with me for the rest of my life. To have my experience as a child be validated like that.

Today I value our relationship so much. I feel able to see him for who he is. To accept him for who he is. To notice and communicate about the places where we have different opinions or see things in different ways.

And we are constantly navigating the boundaries in our relationship – noticing where we slip into old patterns, coming back, removing some topics of conversation as possibilities.

In leading WOUND through the winter it was so beautiful in the ways that I was able to hold women through navigating their relationships with their fathers. In the setting boundaries, in not villainizing them, in taking responsibility for their parts in the relationship.

This really was only possible because of the way my dad has shown up for our relationship.

With my dad I have always felt like regardless of what emotions I was moving through or how angry I was at him that at the end of the day he wanted to find connection with me in a way that felt good to both of us.

It really has been this stable thing beneath it all.

And while of course I have had different childhood themes that have shown up to be worked through in my past relationships – overall I have chosen relationships where I felt really loved.

I have never had a relationship with big swings of drama.

And when I think about that I get this visual of being little and my dad reading to me in bed.

Being with my every question. Listening to my fears about someone climbing into my window, never making me feel silly, just telling me how he would protect me. Wondering about my questions about the universe with me, wondering about god with me, never giving me an answer, just giving me new things to think about.

Taking me to concerts – one time driving me five hours through a snowstorm (where it was also thundering and lightning) to see Robert Plant.

My dad has this openness to the world that I really see and value in myself.

In some ways – and he will tell you this himself – he still feels like a teenager, in the ways he will stay up til 4 am and drink and play his guitar.

Beneath it all is a love for the exploration of life.

We do it in different ways, but it is in me too.

My parents may have not had the best relationship but to us they exhibited a good one.

And I’ve really grown to appreciate this vanilla part of myself.

I have said a bunch recently that vanilla is actually a really complex flavor. (Jordan read that somewhere, and said it to me).

And I feel really grateful that I have always had this foundation to move from.

That I have not stayed long anywhere I was not truly valued.

With Jordan I feel this deep sense of safety.

And I’d like to attribute that to him but honestly I have always felt safe, in my romantic relationships.

Really loved and seen and safe.

And I think a large part of that has come from my relationship with my dad.

Thank you to my dad. All of this means more to me than you know.


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