All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues

So, I’ve been gone for a while, due to “life events” which I’ve been pretty tight-lipped about.

One of those events is that I’ve barely spoken to my dad in almost three weeks.

My dance studio runs a two-day recital, and this year was my very first time being a part of it. On day one, the ballet didn’t go all that well, but the modern/lyrical routine was executed perfectly. I emerged from backstage sweaty and tired but so, so proud of myself. My teacher walked over to me and said that I danced beautifully, in a way she had never seen me dance before. That compliment made me happier than pretty much anything anyone has ever said to me. My dad hugged me and gave me this pretty little bouquet of pink and yellow carnations. I left the recital in this sort of bubble, and I wasn’t paying attention to much else.

We were twenty minutes into our forty minute drive home when my dad started screaming at me for what seemed like no reason. I’m sure he had his excuses, he always does, but from my point of view it was sudden and completely unwarranted. Most of the time, I can weather the storm, but that day something was different. I think part of it was that I was being forced down from the wave of euphoria I had been riding since the recital. I had been preparing for this day for months and months and he was ruining it.

Whatever it was, I snapped. I wanted to hurt myself–the urge was stronger than it’s ever been before. I wanted to tear into my skin and rip myself apart until there was nothing left. My mom would later describe it to me as misdirected anger: I couldn’t lash out at my dad so I wanted to lash inward at myself instead. At the time, it felt like this horrible, churning sea of gray fighting to break free from inside me.

I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. And the whole time I was trapped in the front seat next to him, going 90 on the highway. Nowhere to go, no way to get away from him. If it weren’t for Violet’s parents saying at the very last minute that I could stay over that night–I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done to myself. I don’t want to know.

I raced out of the car, still in full costume and hair and makeup, as soon as he pulled into Violet’s driveway. The carnations he had given me were crushed in my grip, the green juice from the stems running between my fingers. I hadn’t even realized I was still holding them.

Since then, I’ve spoken to him only a few times. I didn’t wish him a happy father’s day I haven’t gone to his house, and I see him only when he’s picking up or dropping off my brother. And every single time, my throat closes up and I have to fight for control of my breathing. I can’t deal with being around him. He’s tried to reach out, inviting me to things and apologizing and even practically begging me to come back. Legally, he could force the issue, but so far he hasn’t. And I don’t think he will. He’s still my dad. He still loves me and would never want to hurt me.

Everything I see reminds me of him. I was cleaning out my desk and backpack, going through all my loose papers, when a postcard from him fell out. He goes on trips to Portland all the time to visit his family, and he always sends back postcards with pictures of the landmarks he visits. This one was from some waterfall–“I wish you were here, Sophia Bodia. I sure do miss you. Lots of love and I will see you soon. ~Daddy”

I couldn’t stop shaking. My eyes filled with tears and I dropped the postcard, pushing it back far into my desk and far into the back corners of my mind.

I was looking through my purse for money the other day when a scrap of paper fell out. I couldn’t remember what it was, and then I opened it up and saw his familiar handwriting filling the page. It was the good luck note that he gave me just before I left for Nationals in Chicago. I carried that note around the tournament like a talisman. Now, though, it’s stowed somewhere safe, and in my overemotional haze I can’t quite remember where I put it. Maybe that’s for the best.

My shelves are filled with notebooks that he gave me, each filled cover to cover with my writing. The Smashing Pumpkins CD he gave me for Christmas still sits on the dresser unopened–I never got around to downloading it and now who knows when I will.

There are pictures of him, holding me when I was a baby, that have been up in my room for so long that they’re practically part of the walls. I shoved them into a box somewhere. And now it feels like there’s something missing. There was this photo of the two of us on my desk from the first time I ever rode a rollercoaster. When I took it down and put it in the box with all the rest, it felt like I was putting away pieces of my heart. There are birthday cards from him taped to my walls and I just can’t force myself to take them down.

I’ve been acting like he’s dead to me, but he’s still my dad. I’ve been acting like I hate him, but I still love him. I want to see him so badly, but I know that if I do I won’t be able to handle myself. I want to stop feeling like this. But beyond that, I don’t know what I want at all.

(((side note–the title of this post is a title from an episode of LOST, a.k.a. the second greatest TV show of all time after Orange is the New Black ;))))



  1. Thank you for sharing. You so beautifully articulated the complexity that can exist in father-daughter relationships. I admire how clear you are about your truth and your feelings and that you’ve given yourself space to work this out for yourself. You are a wise woman.

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