I will start this by saying, while overall I have always been a perfectionist, I have usually failed miserably. I have gotten B’s on papers, disappointed people, made bad decisions, and otherwise “failed” at the whole perfection thing. My view about myself changed dramatically when I accepted Christ at the age of 16, but the psychological drive to be perfect is much harder to let go. But one area where I’ve always known I’ve done a pretty good job for most of my life is being a daughter.
I always followed the rules – I was a “good girl” who honored my parents. I was respectful. I was not promiscuous, I didn’t drink, and I certainly didn’t do drugs. I did what they said and I didn’t ask WHY (at least not vocally) and believed the fact that they were my bosses. I trusted their views in religion, politics, how family dynamics worked, and that their way of raising children was the norm. And, truth be known, much of my childhood I look back on with fondness. But it also is true that I was very much, by birth or otherwise, a child that wanted very much to please her parents. I did whatever I could to make them proud of me, of the fact that I was their child and that they could know that I would do whatever I could to make THEM look good, as my parents. And that worked for me well – I often heard they were proud of me, I was given what I perceived as more freedom and responsibility than my younger brother because of it. And it made me want to work harder at conforming to the “image” that fed that acceptance and pride.
To be completely candid, I lived much of my life feeling as if I was the “favored child” in my family.
I also believed that my parents, especially my Dad, were the only people in the entire world that would love me NO MATTER WHAT. I remember when I became a Christian and a few women shared that they had a hard time viewing Jesus as a loving God because they felt no love from their physical fathers, this thought was so foreign to me. I mean, MY Dad loved me so so so much and so so so well that reaching out and accepting the love of Christ was very easy for me. My Dad was the model for the love of Jesus in so many ways.
I don’t want to diminish that at all. It was true and real and I am very thankful for the life I’ve been given. And often these memories sustain me when all else looks bleak.
However, life is funny. I am a grown woman now, and there are aspects of my life that are very different from that of my parents. After years of being a diehard Republican, I am leaning (oh who am I kidding? I’ve plunged in many ways) to a more liberal political agenda. I am no longer living to please others with my life as much as I am being honest about my desires, views, feelings………not at the expense of others per se, but I am no longer a mirror to those around me as I agree with whatever so I can be “approved” or “accepted” by them. I am honest about my sexuality and proclaim (or at least not deny) that I am in love with Deana and we are making a life together with our kids and our God and we are good people. I am more honest now than I’ve ever been, even though that honesty has caused many around me to cut me out of their lives.
And yet, over the last two years especially, I’ve dealt with what I perceive to be the loss of a huge part of the love that has sustained me. It was painful at first. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s still painful in many ways. There are times when I say I understand and tell myself to just let it go, that it would be wrong for me to force key people in my life to love me – that my honesty about myself and my choices should not mean they have to accept them, although I had hoped they would continue to accept ME. Then there are other times when I am angry – when I want to point out that I am the same person I’ve been for 43 years, the same honorable daughter, but that I happen to be a lesbian, and an honest one at that. And then there are times when I want to say, like a little girl who used to be held in those arms that made me feel I was in the safest place in the world – I resent that you’ve taken this love from me and shattered my world. I resent that you’ve broken this fairy tale for me in this way, and you haven’t even given me the opportunity of knowing WHY but instead cut me out of your life to the point where I no longer want to call and where even sending emails and texts are painful as I know you won’t return them. But usually, I end up being angry at myself, because I let you control me even now, as a grown woman, and all really (as I perceive it) because I am the same person I have always been, but I no longer conform to what you expected of me. Maybe I am wrong, but I have nothing else to base it on.
So, after analyzing this concept on and off for 24 or so months, I have come to the following conclusion – being a “good daughter” is not doing everything to please your parents, although there are times when you DO have to conform to household rules. Being a good daughter is loving your parents, even when they do things you don’t agree with. Being a good daughter is sharing memories with your own kids, and raising them with the qualities you appreciate and which you learned from your parents. Being a good daughter is standing with pride knowing the heritage that is running through your veins, and which continues in your children as well. Being a good daughter is loving your parents even when they have rejected you for whatever reason, and you don’t hold it against them anymore. But it ALSO means letting go of the perceived guilt and no longer being held hostage to it. I am the same daughter I have always been, and I am proud of the person I am……..except I won’t let you treat me like I am 10 and no longer following your unspoken rules.
So, today I will feel the loss of you from my life – as I have pretty much everyday since this separation has happened – but I am no longer HELD by it. Because today I will smile at the good times, be a little sad that you’ve chosen not to be involved in my life going forward, and will rest in the fact that I am loved AND accepted even now – by my wife, by my FIVE children, by my friends, and by my Jesus – NO MATTER WHAT. And I am cool with that. But I will always miss you. And, if by chance someday you change your mind and want to interact with your daughter again, I will be here for you.