What It's Like When Your Father Breaks Your Heart

by Kathy Soppet
Originally Published: 
Girl distantly looking out the window and thinking after her father broke her heart

“You were supposed to be an abortion,” was one of the last things my father ever said to me.

It was during Thanksgiving 2004 that he uttered these words to me in front of everyone sitting at the holiday table. I was shocked, embarrassed, and hurt — but not surprised.

I have felt unwanted and unloved my whole life. Like an uninvited guest burdening an ongoing dinner party. A dinner party with not enough food, joy, or warmth. I was just one more mouth to feed, one more diaper to change, one more screaming child in a house on the verge of destruction.

I know my mom did not want this, but it was an easy way out for my dad who was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. He was a cop who walked the beat in New York; he was a man who beat his children when he was off duty. He loved a can of Budweiser more than he loved his own kids.

He suffered from mental illness but refused to get help. When he spun out of control, we were all caught in his web. Sometimes he was an itsy bitsy amount of fun; most times he was as terrifying as Shelob the giant spider from “Lord of the Rings.” He was a spinner of lies and broken dreams; he was a predator to our happiness.

He called me “Foe” as a joke from “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Fee Fi Fo Fum. But he was actually my foe. He was never truly in my corner, he never protected me, he never told me he loved me.

I, like so many others, was born into a home without love. The love had died, just as surely as my dad wanted me to. I was just a reminder of this fact, an exclamation mark to an unhappy marriage and life. When I was able to understand this, I suffered my first broken heart.

I have been trying to mend my broken heart ever since. I have not fully succeeded and will spend the rest of my life trying. My past has led me to making many bad decisions and to at least one unhealthy relationship.

It wasn’t until I matured and took the time to understand myself and my needs that I began to make better decisions. I learned to love the person I thought was unlovable. I began to slowly heal. I learned to look at life through a new lens, I finally saw a path toward happiness.

There were many bumps in the road, of course, and many wrong turns, but I managed to learn from my mistakes and get right back on the road. I steered clear of abusive personalities and slowly found myself surrounded by kind, supportive people. People who understood pain, physical and/or mental, people who truly care about others.

This took a while and was not easy, but was worthwhile.

It is much better to be alone than to be with people who constantly hurt you.

It is much better to wait for good things, than to rush into bad situations. It is much better to take the time to truly love yourself.

You are amazing. You are a gift.

I had waited my whole life for someone to tell me they loved me. What I didn’t realize was that I needed to hear it from myself the most. When I was finally able to look in the mirror with pride and feel self-love, my life changed course.

I met a wonderful man and have two wonderful children. I try to tell them I love them often, for I know what it feels like to crave these words. I try to show them how much I love them often, for I know what it feels like to be neglected. I try to hug and kiss them often, in the hopes that it will protect them from an unkind world. I try to show them kindness, so they will show the same kindness to others.

I only saw my father once after that Thanksgiving. It was on his deathbed. There were no apologies offered, no warmth shown, no love for my unborn daughter who grew in my big belly, no “I love you”s, no big movie screen goodbyes.

I just leaned over him for the last time and kissed his forehead. I said a quick prayer for him to finally find peace and happiness.

I no longer needed him. I never really did. I walked out of that hospital room with all I ever really needed:

Myself, some self-love, and a whole lotta love to spare.

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