Age: Day 8,050 of my life [22 Years Old]
Date: 2 April 2011
Location: Greeley, CO
Category: Among the happiest
People Involved: Father
In my experience, it’s part of human nature for a son to have daddy problems. Even when there is no real rift, there are still problems. Through your teenage years, you look at your father and see the type of man you think you are supposed to become. Then you start seeing things that you don’t want to emulate. It’s a strange internal struggle with another person. That is the experience I had with my father up until my 22nd birthday. I loved him. I just didn’t want to become him.
My entire life, I’ve watched my father work himself thin. He is the man who is doing what I like to call the 40/40. It’s the lifestyle where you work 40 hours a week for 40 years and then retire. He’s done it quite well. That’s why it has been so hard. It’s difficult to watch the man you respect more than anybody work himself to the bone only to be laid off and screwed over. Sure, he can engrain a good work ethic in me (and he did). It is the world that he works for that engrains my hatred for that life.
I’ve never wanted that life. I like the life that my parents gave me. I was able to grow up middle class. I got a great education. My family was strong and intact. When I look at the life that my family gave me, I want a lot of the same things. I want a close family. I want to be financially stable. In the end, it was the differences that I focused on.
In my late teens and early twenties, my father had a tendency to indicate what I should be doing with my life. They were intended to be pointers, but I never took them that way. “You should be working a full time job” came in direct conflict with my own beliefs about how to run my life. I wanted less. I wanted to want less. I didn’t want the 40/40 lifestyle. I didn’t like that he couldn’t understand that.
In the months leading up to my 22nd birthday, the rift between my father and I grew. I couldn’t stand his remarks. He obviously had a reason to continue giving them to me. I started feeling like I was the disappointment of his life. I held most those feeling in…unsure about how to express them. Then I told my sister one day. My sister told my mother. My mother told my father. Suddenly, on a few weeks after my 22nd birthday, my father and I went grocery shopping at Safeway.
We had the conversation in the parking lot of that Safeway. It wasn’t like the rift between us was massive. We just needed to talk—a side that I never saw in my father. A deep conversation about how our relationship is doing is something I used to reserve for the women in my life…because I had no idea how to talk to my father in that way. As our conversation wore on, I felt the incredible stress of the situation disappear from my shoulders.
That was one of the most important conversations of my life. I only spent a few more months living with my parents after that. I moved a good distance away. It was extremely important to me that I left the house on good terms with my family. The relationship you leave your house in is the basis for your relationship with your parents for the rest of your life. That one conversation changed everything for the better…by a lot.