I was a daddy’s girl. No doubt about it. I loved my dad more than life itself.
We did so many cool things together. Play softball, tennis, go to the gym, fish, camp, and ski. He would go to all my games, make sure we had nightly family dinners, ask about my classes, and loved to talk. It drove me a little crazy, but looking back on it I realize just how lucky I was to have such a dad.
Yet from an early age, I knew something was really wrong with him. He was sick. Really sick.
He had these bouts of anger, of rage, that bubbled up inside him and exploded on to our family. It was never predictable, I didn’t know what might set him off. So I lived in a state of constant anxiety, always trying to make things right and trying to ensure everyone was OK.
It was so surreal. Like I would witness this transformation in his face, and I would wish more than anything that I could do something to stop it. To take the pain away. To save his life.
But I couldn’t. When I was 19, he died by suicide. They attempted to treat him way too late, when he had damaged so much of what he cared for, and as he told me he felt hopeless and just saw no way out.
It eats a hole in my inside to this very day. I literally feel at times like my throat may close up, my whole body contract and that the the pain won’t end. The depths of my soul aches for his pain, and the pain for all fathers that suffer, to go away.
What I realized, with time, is that I could not fix my dad. Nor can I fix others that come into my life and remind me of my dad. As much as I want to, as much as I love them.
What I can do, however, is use what I have learned from my personal and professional experiences and teach people how to heal. How to live happy, engaged, productive lives. As I have been able to most of the time, even though at one point I almost ended up using the same solution as my dad, gratefully I didn’t and am here today to talk about it.
As there are powerful habits we have that either add to, or detract from, our happiness. Which is why I am really grateful for our new 21 Days to Happiness course. We partnered with Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo on the course, and it is 21 Days of habits to practice each and every day. Things that have been shown to impact moods and create a more positive, happier state.
I’ve been thinking so much about the course, and how my dad would have just LOVED to have done this with me. How he would have gotten the email, practiced his step each day at the bank where he worked, talked with me about it, probably posted something embarrassing on social media (though social was far before his time, I think he would have LOVED it), and learned about his brain health and how what he does impacts how he feels. And then he could have engaged with me at home about it and had something specific to talk with me about that day.
And I just wish he was here to do it with me. Yet I’m glad I thought about it, as it gave me the idea to encourage other daughters and sons to do it with their dads. As finding ways to enhance that bond is so powerful and positive.
So maybe you will consider doing it with your dad for Father’s Day, or encourage someone you know to do so. While I have always thought of the course as more of something I would do with my mom (which I have, and do!), it probably is partially because my dad isn’t here. And looking back, I can’t think of anything he would have rather gotten for Father’s Day than daily connection, for 21 Days, with his daughter.
I know he is smiling down on me now. I miss you, dad. Wishing all you dad’s a super happy Father’s Day.