From the time I was a little girl, you were my saviour. You loved me fiercely. This is how I have remembered you. As my daddy. As the man I could always count on. Someone who would never let me down, always be there, and protect me so fiercely from the world, that my world included the safety of our home and your arms.
You taught me to ride my bike, and you were so worried I would fall and scrape my knee, that you literally ran alongside the bike, your arms shielding me. Every experience in my life was accompanied by a long and intensive discussion of the pros and cons. If the cons were in the lead by even one point, said experience was cancelled. Never did I leave the house without hearing the words, "Be careful."
When I grew into a rambunctious teenager, your love for me only grew. Unpaid bills were never a concern of mine for you would swoop in, take care of them, and tell me, "Sandra, don't worry about that. Just don't do it again."
Bad relationships. Bad decisions. Didn't matter what went wrong in my life, you stayed awake at night more than I did searching for the solutions to them.
And then you died.
And for 18 years I have been forced to fix my own mistakes; right my wrongs; live through the bad relationships because you are no longer there to fly me off while your red cape flutters in the wind behind us.
Through events you probably would find very difficult to accept, I've been dealing with major depression for many years. I'm kind of glad you aren't here to see this portion of my life. Because, although in the beginning, when I was curled up in my bed for weeks with the covers forming a cocoon around my still body, I wished you were here to sit with me, and say to me the words that would inevitably light up my life again. I know now this isn't true. Only I can fix this.
As I shared all of this with my psychologist, and told her, "My dad was my saviour. He was my hero," her hesitation in speaking the following caused momentary alarm. As she explained that your actions, although meant to protect me and to alleviate your anxiety, had played a big part in shaping my sense of worthlessness; worthlessness so heavy and burdensome that I can't physically stand upright on some days. I lay in my bed, staring up at the ceiling wondering how I've become so useless. How come my life is too much for me to handle? How come I think I'm garbage?
Of course there are many life experiences that have melded together in my psyche to have formed this image I have of myself. But when my psychologist said, "Sandra, how did you feel when your dad took away your opportunity to stand up for yourself?" Although my first reaction was to say, "I felt terrific!" after a lifetime of being incapable of solving the smallest of issues; of crying myself to sleep because I don't know how to speak up and speak out, I had to admit, that your protection was not in fact a service, but a barrier to my ability to learn how to grow up.
I love you Dad. But I think you should have let me fall off the bike.