by Franci Dimitrovska, Multimedia Storyteller for OTeam and RU Student Life
My dad often told me that I was the smartest girl he knew. We went out to the pool every weekend and he bought me pancakes from McDonalds every Saturday morning. He played M rated games with me and showed me how to use a joystick as a young kid. We watched funny videos until we cried and we went on trips around Ontario to whatever amusement park tickled my fancy that year. He supported me following my dreams and becoming whatever it was I wanted to be that year in particular.
Today, I’m 20 years old and he and I no longer speak. Our relationship very slowly faded away over the years and once I was in university, he stopped contacting me at all.
For a long time, I thought it was my fault. I was no longer cute and fun to be around. I started fading into the background when I was visiting him, trying to be easy as possible to take care of. I stopped letting him pick me up by car and started commuting the hour long TTC trip to his, even late at night after work. He didn’t approve of my job, my friends, or my grades. I was constantly striving to study harder, be smarter, be better.
I struggled for a long time with this. He was so fond of me as a kid, when I was funny and into the same TV shows as he was. It was easy for him when it was exciting and independent for me to be be left alone several nights in a row as he went out with friends each weekend — less so when I realized he wouldn’t spend a single night at home with me. Handing me a twenty dollar bill to go buy sushi around the corner instead of ever cooking was a lot more novel about six years ago. Today it feels lazy.
It wasn’t until he skipped out on my high school graduation dinner that I realized maybe it wasn’t me. I had absolutely peaked at high school under my parents’ intense pressure — bilingual, high average, several scholarships, extracurriculars enough to blow out an admission officer’s checklist — and it hadn’t been enough to keep him around for dinner.
I still visited for a few months until one morning I woke up just too late for his liking. I left that day without him having said a word to me and he still hasn’t.
Why didn’t he want to stick around? I don’t know. I may never know.
Here’s what I do know — my value isn’t determined by the fact that I wasn’t enough for him. His pressure got me into my dream school (Ryerson!) and an amazing job. His inability to be happy with my achievements drove me into a fierce work ethic. The parts of me that suffer because he left make me a more interesting filmmaker. I still hurt, but one thing is clear: my worth is not the sum of the people that have chosen to stay in my life.
Summer is a hard time for folks with smaller families or abusive families — long weekends, vacations, Mother’s and Father’s days pass with so much familial fanfare it feels almost impossible to escape. To my friends who don’t embody the picture of a nuclear family, you are just as worthy and valid for having a chosen family or creating a path you follow alone.