A week ago I came across a story that was circulating in Facebook about the gift a father gave to his daughter on her 15th birthday, and that was his heart, which saved her life while sacrificing his. While that story was mostly symbolic, categorized as one of those life changing and inspirational stories, it was quite beautiful and touching indeed and made me think about my own relationship with my father. After so many years of struggling whether I should accept that I love my dad, and that my dad is my hero, despite of what others may think of him, I finally concluded that in my case too, my dad gave me exactly that, the gift of life. He gave me his heart that holds so much love for life, so much passion to follow my dreams, and the stubbornness to be myself, and myself only. My dad is not just like any other dad, and for all that he did for me that allowed me to spread my wings, to be who I am today, to grow quite content and happy with myself and my decisions because of the way he treated me, well then, he cannot just be his daughter’s hero; to me he was Zeus and I was his Athena. I want to wish him Happy Father’s day, because despite what he always said, that I was the best daughter anyone would have wished for, it was his encouragement that made me me. Now that he is old, he is my precious dad and I am giving back all my love to him, just like he taught me to love unconditionally because it feels good, so good, not because you will get something back from it.
I would like to say thank you to my dad for all the many priceless gifts he gave me in the course of life; gifts like the time he spent with me translating math and science textbooks from other languages to Albanian so that I would win the Olympiads of mathematics and science. I would like thank him for always supporting me, even when all others turned their backs on me at the most difficult times of my life, because they did not believe in me, but my dad, contrary to others, he never lost trust in me and never doubted my abilities and my reasoning. I want to say thank you to my dad for not holding back in letting me know that he was proud of me every single time he felt it, when he did not mind publicly showing his pride with tears in his eyes when everyone was clapping for me when I wan the prize for singing in children’s festival. My dad and I did not have those lovey dovey relationships most fathers have with their sons and daughters nowadays. He never hugged me, kissed, or held me in his lap. He never gave me piggy rides or high fives, but he gave me the greatest support ever, better than any other dad in the world, because he showed his admiration and pride for me with a smile, with his sincere look, with his words which were short and strait to the point. He always said that he knew I can be anything I want to be because I was just like him, but better. That’s all he said and he then helped me do what I wanted to do, not by solving my problems or making my path easier, but by training me for the hard road ahead, for training me to be a survivor just like him in the world that proved to be too cruel to people like us, who do not strive for perfection in the way we look but in the way we feel.
My dad supported me in every decision I made in life, since at young age, not because he wanted to spoil me, but because he truly believed that I was born that way, special, and so I could do what I wanted to do. In certain way, he believed in destiny just like I do, that quietly guides you to choose the right path in life by giving you certain talents, dreams and passions to follow. Therefore, I would not have been who I am if I would not have inherited my dad’s genes. Nevertheless, many children inherit good genes and special talents from their parents, yet not everyone turns to be a winner in life. In the course of years and especially after finishing my studies in the field of Psychology, I realized that the way dad treats their daughters is just as important as the genes they inherit from their parents in order to be and feel successful in life. Hence, if it wasn’t for his humbleness, the way my dad treated me, I would not be who I turned to be and feel content with my life today. Because I know my dad’s humbleness, the very thing that made me feel so comfortable around him and never hesitated to seek his help, because of this however, I cannot say thank you to him directly by making a long speech like this. Our connection father-daughter is silent, and always been like that. Our connection was heart to heart rather than eye to eye. Therefore, he never liked long speeches, and complements. He was short and straight forward with his words, but his words always carried his heart in them, a loving and forgiving heart, unconditionally. Therefore. even though I want to say all these things to my dad, I know for sure that if I start saying these to him it will make him feel uncomfortable rather than proud to be my daddy. I know this because I’ve seen him react like that all my life and because I am like him. I know that he will say what he always says to me that he did nothing because I am so good that I actually deserve more than he could give me. So, in order to avoid such guilt feelings that have no reason to exist but were enforced on both of us by life circumstances, I often avoid making direct speeches of appreciations to my dad and allow myself to express my admiration for him other ways.
With such humbleness on his character, my dad taught me that the job of a parent is to make his children comfortable enough to speak up their minds but without losing the respect for the parent. He taught me that the parent does not need to feel like god for what he does for his/her children; therefore, his/her children must not feel obligated to praise that parent. Although respect is a must and it should be applied and considered in all forms of communications not only with the parents but also with other people, adoration and admiration is not a must, and it should not be demanded. I teach my children to be real and forward in communication with me, just like my dad taught me to.
My dad also taught me that success is not measured by the amount of fame, money, followers, or what people may think of you. He taught me that success is in fact measured by the way one feels about his actions and how content one is with his/her life. He did not call me his little princess, he did not call me daddy’s angel, or daddy’s little girl. For him I was smart like Athena, and needed not any spoiling, but instead needed to be heard and treated with lots of respect. My dad did not promise me the world, or the paradise, but he did what he could all the time, without hesitating a bit. He never felt embarrassed accepting that we were not rich, and famous, or tried to hide the fact that he was not perfect. He taught me that it was more important to accept your flaws and work on improving yourself by learning to love yourself first and feel comfortable on your own skin. He often said that and made jokes about how he didn’t need any DNA test to prove that I was his daughter by the way I pursed my lips just like him, when I was trying to solve those hard math problems. He also added that I was better than him though, because I was like my mother too. He was glad I did not inherit some special trait from him, and that special trait was the fact that he was always referred by others as a womanizer. The truth is that while he could not indeed resist the temptations when other women flirted with him, he never in fact chased those women; they chased him instead. He never flirted or tried to make other women uncomfortable in his presence. He was in every meaning of the word, a gentleman. When he fell to that low point of a womanizer, where everyone in the room could clearly see his intentions toward a certain woman, that only happened when such woman provoked him first. However, at other times, when my mom’s friends came to visit us and who did not show any sexual interest toward my dad, my dad never fell to that low level. Instead he always offered to make some coffee for the ladies and after serving them the coffee he excused himself saying that ladies needed their privacy for their chit-chat. My dad was a gentleman and he still is, but it was the jealousy that ruined his reputation, and because of that I hated him most of my childhood, not knowing whose fault really was that my mom was always upset and angry with him. What made it worse was the fact that he confessed it himself by saying that he was glad that I did not take after him on this. Because of this I hated it when my mother rendered him other values when she said that my dad was smart and strong, honest and reliable. It was as if she adored him so much that she could not be happy without him, but on the other hand he had to, He HAD to change his nature, so that she would be happy. As I grew up I showed her ways to deal with this by confronting these types of women who provoked my dad rather than always blaming him and causing so many fights and arguments. I showed these strategies to her and they always worked but she just did not grasp them, because I believe she doubted her values, and when one doubt her values one tries to gain them by demanding love and respect from others. However, at the time I was first exposed to such conflicts between my mother and my father I was just a little kid, too young to know better and did not know what to do with all this information because as a child I had no idea what love meant or what happiness truly was.
The more my mom emphasized to me that man is what a woman needs to feel happy the more I disregarded her views and decided that I did not need a man to love me, or otherwise I will end up like my mother. The more she said that dad was smart and honest, yet she was unhappy and crying and shouting at him all the time, the more I disregarded my dad’s help when he wanted to help me with my homework, after seeing how I was struggling for hours and hours with some math problems. Yet I never gave up, or asked him for help. I felt insulted when he said he would help me, so my dad was very careful when he tried to offer me his help. He saw from early in my life that I was too proud to accept a fake victory, or any help at all even when it was clear that I could not do it on my own. I developed that kind of hostile attitude toward my dad because I believed I did not need his help or the help of any other man for that matter, because men made my mother unhappy. Slowly, slowly my dad taught me that it was OK to ask for help, and it was OK to no be perfect all the time. But I refused his help for years, and when he tiptoed behind my shoulders, trying to have a pick at the math problem I was struggling with, I got upset and told my dad that I preferred to be left alone because I wanted to solve these problems myself. He was never mad at me; he laughed at my determination and very patiently told me that if he would show me the solution of one of the problems at least, then I could use it as a template to solve similar problems in the future and save some time this way. It was only then, when what he said made perfect sense to me, and especially the way he said it, that I started to slowly accept my dad’s help.
According to Freud I would have developed a personality disorder, where my superego should have resembled the opposite gender’s parent, that of my father. Hence, according to Freud I should have adored my father and should have become a whore, a man eater, smart but loose type of woman. But I did not. I did not adore my dad or wished to take my mom’s place to win his adoration. Instead, I started hating him while I had no reasons to do so, for he was very decent and a good father to me. Yet, I hated my father because I saw how unhappy my mother was because of him. He put her up in a pedestal, she was treated like a queen; she was the center of my father’s attention (not me, his only child). My mother was like the goddess Hera in our house, and I saw this with my own eyes, therefore I cannot deny it, but then, as soon as one of those slutty ladies came along that was not ashamed of openly flirt with my dad, and publicly accept that my dad was the dream man of every woman, and he therefore was her weakness too, oh well, at that point my dad just lost his logic. He acted as if he was hypnotized. At that point was easy to label him as an womanizer, and because of that my mom always yelled at him when these other ladies left. When he realized how badly he had behaved, he wanted to leave us because he could not handle the shame and guilt my mom was leashing on him. But as he was about to leave, my mother always made him change his mind by begging him to stay because of me. Yes, my mother used me as a bait. At those moments my dad looked at me, felt sorry for what he did, for the troubles he caused, and he stayed in his hell, promising that he would behave better the next time. So, what kind of superego should have I developed according to Freud? What kind of personality disorder should have I developed due to such parents and trauma? Shouldn’t I have been affected as a child by such dramas and either become sexually promiscuous luring every man into my trap, or become lesbian maybe and start hating men for casing unhappiness to women, or should I have become impotent instead, feeling no sexual desire for either male or female? Well, I did not. I did not turn like any of these categories, but why? That’s because I was just like Athena, and I was treated with so much respect by my dad. It was the fact that I used logic in all my arguments, from the time I was too little to judge who was right or wrong as my dad was hoping I would pick his side. To his question, “Isn’t daddy right? Mommy should ask daddy before spending lots of money on buying stuff, right?” I answered with another question, which naturally came to me, “But isn’t she your friend? Don’t you love mommy?” This made my dad think, and he got the point that I was not concerned about justice of who was right or wrong. I was concerned more with feelings and how their arguments made me feel. He hugged my mom and me at that point and said, “Of course she is my best friend and I love her very much.” Important Note, My dad never said I love you, to me, or I love you both, to my mom and me. Even to this day he never says it. He only says that I deserves more than he can give me.
It was because of this, the fact that I used my own reasoning to analyze matters, rather than being influenced by my parents’ point of views to whether hate one and love the other, that made my dad proud of me and he did not hesitate to show his pride. While my mother always criticized me that I was not diplomatic enough like she was, or that I rushed saying things without filtering them just like my dad always rushed, that I did not use enough curtsy when communicating with her, or did not show enough respect for her, my dad on the other hand always appreciated my values, and always told me that I was like him but even better. He showed me this way that he was proud of me. Despite of the conflicts in their opinions and treatments, I never fully hated or loved my mom, or fully hated my dad, but always deep down truly loved him for allowing me to be myself. For as long as I remember, dad always treated me with respect, as if I was not just a child to him but instead, someone that deserved knowing the truth on every matter that I expressed my interest or concern; and this is how he guided me. He guided me by treating me with respect, therefore, I expected the same treatment by others too. He guided me by being humble, therefore, I did not demand respect from others, or ever felt entitled to any special treatment. I worked to earn this respect, yet not tolerate disrespect, and my father taught me that, not by preaching but by leading with his example. He guided me by stimulating my critical thinking, by encouraging me when I felt like giving up, and mostly by telling the truth. He did that so softly and naturally and without expecting anything in return, that I often forgot to say thank you to him.
I loved my dad because instead of doing what every other dad often does, which is spoiling their little girls, making their lives so perfect so they would adore their dads, he did the opposite. He accepted that he had flaws and I should not be like him, I should be better than him, and that I should not adore him, but instead adore my mother because she was the symbol of virtues, apparently, because she never cheated on him. What others dads do wrong with their children and to which Freud’s theory most possibly will apply is that they do too much for their daughters and then they expect to be praised and appreciated by their wife and daughters. They want to feel and be treated like heroes, as protectors of their little daughters, without realizing that in fact they are in fact damaging and destroying their daughter’s character and personality. In such cases the Electra syndrome and Oedipus syndrome may indeed apply, no doubt, because these fathers, unknowingly, are teaching their daughters to depend on a man to feel happy, while teaching their sons that man’s success is measured by the admiration they gain when they provide for their family. When daughters of such fathers quickly realize the supremacy of their fathers, they would want to gain their dads’ admiration rather than anger, of course. These daughters would, therefore, ally with their dads instead of their moms. And even in those cases when this does not happen, daughters of such dads will still be affected by the behavior of their fathers, fathers that show their supremacy in the family. As a result, these girls will grow up thinking that they must either submit to the men power like they did when they were little girls, and therefore, they became gold diggers or they will rebel against the opposite gender by turning into some sort of extreme feminists in order to validate themselves and their values (I call it the Amazon syndrome). But, thanks to you my dear father who openly accepted who he was, therefore literally sacrificing his name and his reputation to save me from such horrible outcomes, I did not become like any of these two extremes as expected. I did not become a gold digger and never actually appreciated money, just like my dad never did, because he taught me that success is measured not by the amount of money one accumulates in life, but by the amount of pleasurable moments and the good memories one accumulates during his/her life time.
For all the good times I had with my dad I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart in this Fathers Day. I am rich, rich with pleasant memories and full of precious valid lessons that I learned from my dad. My mind is now floating over such beautiful memories with my dad, From the first tooth dangling at the handle on the door when my dad kind of lied to me, telling me that once he would tie that thread around my tooth, the tooth will then fall on its own. Two minutes later, he distracted me and then told me that my friend was calling me to play outside, at which point I rushed out forgetting all about my tooth; to the late sleepless nights of helping me get ready for math and science Olympiads where I was going to win the third prize at National wide Olympiad of science for high school students by proving to my mom that boys cannot be any smarter than me; to the memory of teaching me how to sweep the floors in grade two, telling me that sweeping floors was easy, that I just had to count five sweeps over each tile. He asked me to do that because he wanted to play soccer with his friends outside, therefore teaching me that having fun, enjoying every moment when you can, appreciating little things in life and delegating your chores to others sometimes is not such a crime after all; to all the days we did not speak to one another because I decided to teach him a lesson for disrespecting my mother while complementing another woman clearly showing other intentions, and to such silent treatment he willingly submitted without raising his voice after I showed him of what I thought of his behavior, and to my mother’s provocative question whether he was mad at me or not for not speaking to him for about a month, which my dad answered that he was not mad at all. In fact he was proud of me for being a strong woman and firm on my judgment, therefore he would not demand to be respected, guilt trip me, or force me in anyway to talk to him just because he was my father. For all these good memories, for all the good feelings of knowing that even if the whole world could turn against me one day, I at least have my dad to talk to, and I know he will understand me, for all these, I want to thank my dad.
I appreciated and continue to appreciate his existence in my life, I feel blessed for being his daughter, but not because I was expecting my dad to fix things for me, although many times he did (I just did not realize that because he never rubbed it in my face), but because I knew that if I would talk to my dad about my problems he would understand me better than anyone else, and he would make me feel good about my decisions, and not second guess myself. For all these moments, I appreciate this father more than anything else in my life. I appreciate his existence, and I care less what others may have labeled and called him. He was the best dad for me because he put me first, before his own reputation, his ego, or his happiness.
Above all, my dad never for a moment showed me that I needed him to rescue me from the troubles of life, because I was weak and vulnerable. He never promised to protect me from every young boy or man who would mistreat me. Nevertheless, he did his job as a father when he had to, by making sure first that I was OK with that, and did not have certain feelings for these boys, and then showed these boys and men where they belonged. He stood by my side and my decisions even when others provoked him by questioning whether he had any authority over his daughter. My dad did not teach me that love truly exist, because we never spoke about this topic. He always said that this was my mother’s sphere of influence. However, without even saying a word, my dad taught me that when love does not exist a marriage feels like hell. My dad did not teach me that men are stronger than women. Instead, he taught me that I can become whoever I wanted to be, like him, but even better. From all that my dad quietly taught me, I naturally concluded that I do not need a man in my life to validate my worth, but I need a man that can show me his love unconditionally, like my dad did. He taught me to appreciate the man man, not the shell of a man. I learned from my dad to appreciate men that do not brag about their values, their jobs or bank accounts, clearly indicating that by bragging they are in fact asking for approval to their values and worth. A real man does not need approval, or demand appraising by either bragging or by showing their supremacy. A real man like my dad, does his job quietly and earnestly, and feels no need to be appreciated for what he effortlessly does, as it is in his nature to do so. My dad, with his behavior and his presence in my life, taught me that I need no superhero to save me, because I am smart enough and good enough to survive on my own. Therefore, if I need a man in my life, I need him because I love him, and not because I am obligated to do so. On the other hand, this man must also be willing, must freely want to be with me, but not as my hero or as a protector (things that will naturally occur when you love someone), but because he truly loves me unconditionally. Only then I can trust a man, like I trusted my dad.