I'm working on my grad school applications today. I've got them pretty much complete, just tweaking my essays according to professors' reccomendations. The first essay I wrote is my favorite. It seemed appropriate to post it here, in my mini-forum of me.
Describe someone you know, about whom you have strong ambivalent, conflicting, or negative feelings.
Growing up, I was Daddy’s little girl. My parents got divorced when I was two and my dad received full custody of my brother and me. I strived to do everything I could to make my daddy proud of me. I was a perfect angel at school and tried hard to behave at home. Somehow, I always fell a little short. I would do every problem on my homework and try to get along with my step-mother and step-sister. At the end of the day I was just a disappointment to my father. I always was striving for something more, some unrealistic goal to make him proud of me. My brother failed him when he was 16 and moved out of the house. It was all left to me to be Daddy’s prized child. I loved my daddy so much; I just had to be perfect for him.
I tried to be perfect for my father until I was 15. I had come to realize he was using me. I was only as good to him as my grades were, only as valuable as his bragging rights. I still loved him, but was starting to have trouble liking him. As the days passed, life became more confusing and difficult. I couldn’t stand living under his control and emotional abuse.
Finally, the day came when I had to decide whether I was going to break or overcome. I can’t even tell you what it was about now, but I upset my father. He raised his hand as if he was going to back hand me. I starred back at him, calmly denying his anger. He lowered his hand and I walked away.
That night he worked on household chores he’d been promising to do for me, for example setting up a window ledge for my kittens. He did several things that night. Each time he rhetorically asked, “What a good Daddy am I? What other Daddy would do such nice things for you? Aren’t you so lucky?” I remember recognizing those lines from so many times before, so many “make-ups” for an evening gone horribly wrong.
I visited my mother a month or so later for summer vacation. She knew I was struggling with the decision to move in with her or return to live with my father. When my brother moved out at 16 years old, my father disowned him and never spoke to him again. I could only expect the same response if I chose to leave. I was stuck. I could either have him in my life but have no life worth living, or have a fuller life but without him in it. I knew the decision I had to make, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. My mother took the decision out of my hands and applied for emergency custody of me. While she had made the legal moves to keep me with her, we all knew the decision was ultimately mine.
Six years have passed since that summer. Six years since he has spoken to me. I love him. I always will; he’s my father. But I hate the man he’s become; I hate the pain he continues to put me through. Over the years I’ve sent presents, cards, graduation announcements, letters about my life, and even made phone calls. Sometimes I simply get no response; sometimes I hear his voice telling me I have the wrong number; and sometimes he simply puts the packages, unwrapped, in a new container and mails them back to me. Each little insult hurts, stabs at me. Yet, I can’t help but love the man he could be.
His father didn’t give him a very good example to learn from. From as far back as the stories will take me, the fathering males in my family have always set a hard course for their children to follow. Love has always had a price; shunning has always been a real consequence. My grandfather is a tough man who worked hard to provide for his family. He showed his love by putting food on the table and a roof over their heads. He held his standards high for his children. It comes as no surprise that his youngest son would adopt these behaviors as well. My grandfather abandoned his eldest daughter after she defied him. My father sees my actions as defying him, as he told me himself the last time we spoke. It’s understandable that he would impose the same “punishment” on his me for my transgression as his father imposed on his daughter. He has learned from the example his father provided.
He did love me; maybe he still does. I understand he just doesn’t know how to love me and how to deal with the pain I have unwillingly imposed upon him. He gave me life and he loved me the best he could for the first 15 years of my life. For that I owe him my love and respect, even if I don’t like the person he is today.