When Father’s Day hurts

The first Father’s Day after I went no contact with my dad (the first time), someone at work asked me what my plans were. When I told him my husband and I would be celebrating our second anniversary, he was shocked.

“What? So, you’re just going to leave your dad alone of Father’s Day?” he asked, slightly joking, but mostly serious. “You’re not going to do anything for him at all?”

The last time I’d talked to my dad he’d told me, among many, many other things, that I was self-righteous and a bully. He’d told me God wouldn’t forgive me unless I started acting more “forgiving” toward him. The conversation had left me shaking, nauseated, lightheaded, and crying in the bathroom. Meanwhile, my dad had ended the conversation by saying he it was too painful for him to talk to me any longer right then.

But I couldn’t tell my coworker all that. Instead, I tried to laugh it off and provide some kind of explanation for why I wasn’t celebrating my dad without lying. I felt like I might puke right there into the tiny waste basket under my desk.

That weekend, Josh brought me to a tearoom. We got scones with jam, lemon curd, and Devonshire cream, and several pots of tea, as well as three types of loose-leaf tea from the gift shop to bring home. That man definitely knows the way to my heart.

While we were sitting there, I noticed a father having high tea with his daughter a couple tables over. They had those little tea sandwiches, and she had on a pretty dress. I squealed under my breath to Josh about how cute they were, because if I didn’t, I’d start crying right there in public.

If you’re like me, and Father’s Day can be triggering, remember you’re not alone. And please, do something meaningful for yourself today.

  1. Talk to someone you trust about the feelings today brings up for you.
  2. Stay off social media. I know for me it can be really hard to see people celebrating their dads, even though I am happy for them.
  3. Write a letter to your dad, telling him what you wish you could say to him. Then put the letter away somewhere (or burn it if you’re feeling super symbolic).
  4. Get out in nature. Take a walk and focus on what you can hear, see, smell, and feel. Be mindful of the heat though! Bring a water bottle and lather on that sunblock!
  5. Journal. Writing about your thoughts, feelings, and memories helps integrate the different parts of your brain.
  6. Do something that has good memories associated with it. Rewatch your favorite movie, go to your favorite place, or do your favorite hobby.
  7. Most of all, be compassionate with yourself and make room for your grief/anger/regrets. Don’t just ignore them. It won’t make them go away.

Or you could write a blog post about how Father’s Day is hard and things people can do to help themselves cope!

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