Dear My Twelve Year Old Self (as you stare out the window of your dad’s truck that fateful day in November),
Yes, your dad did just break up with your boyfriend for you! Yes, to your incredible horror, his truck was sitting in the parking lot where the school bus drops you, your friends and your boyfriend off after school so you can all walk home together. You knew this was coming, it has been coming for the last couple of weeks. Your parents made it very clear from the beginning that as far as dating goes there is a certain, very high, standard that will be upheld. It is a standard that every boy will meet in order to have the “privilege” of dating their daughter. These standards were set as non negotiable while you live under their roof. Yeah, you heard them and you accepted the terms (like you had any other choice) but you figured there would always be a little wiggle room. I mean, you are “daddy’s little girl” and it is well known that your dad adores you. So when you decided to enter into THIS relationship with THIS boy, you figured he met enough of the standards that it would fly. Only when your dad found out about THIS boy and THIS relationship, fly is not at all what this situation did. For two weeks now your dad has been telling you to break it off. You have been stalling. Yesterday he gave you the ultimatum, the relationship was over and it was going to end by today so either you could end it or he would.
Your dad is nothing if not a man of his word so it shouldn’t have surprised you to see his truck in that parking lot, but it did. You never thought your dad could actually hate you enough to embarrass you on this level and ruin your life in such a cruel way. Today you realized something about your dad. He can and will embarrass you and effectively kick your social life into an entirely different realm in one fell swoop.
Now, as you stand in that abandoned parking lot and the friends you should be walking with are specks in the distance and the boy whose hand should be wrapped around yours has made a hasty and permanent retreat. Your heart feels like a painful lump in your chest beating out a sickening reminder of the betrayal you just endured. A few moments ago, you stepped off that school bus and met the questioning eyes of your father. In a panic you thought maybe you could convince him to just get back in his truck and drive away before anything ridiculous happened, but in an act of unrealized betrayal, the boy next to you reached out and grabbed your hand, as he does every day. At the contact, a flash of disappointment and sadness seeped into your father’s eyes, turning into a steely determination as he began making his way towards you and the boyfriend you shouldn’t have. You stood there dumb-founded as your father did exactly what he said he would do. Your hand fell limp at your side at the loss of contact and the boy occupying the space beside you turned and walked away without a word.
Yes, that just happened.
With a deep sigh, your dad gathered you, sobbing, into his arms and his words echoed across the now empty parking lot, “I know you are upset and you hate me right now and I know that you don’t understand. That’s okay. You can be upset and you can hate me for a while and even though you don’t understand right now, you will some day. All you need to understand right now is that I am your dad and you are my daughter and it is my job to protect you and my honor to love you with everything in me even when it hurts. This is me loving and protecting you and the hurt will go away. Come get in the truck, and I will take you home.”
So, as you sit in your dad’s truck, staring out of the window, there are
1. The pain does go away, and much sooner than you are expecting. You will return to school tomorrow and find today’s boyfriend wasting no time as he hooks up with your best friend.
2. Yes, your social life will take a hit as you become the girl with the scary dad who all of the boys have suddenly become very wary of. It will kind of suck, a lot, and it will be hard for a long time, but it will teach you who your friends are and you will create strong and lasting relationships because of it. It will be hard as you watch the rest of the kids your age dating and kissing and experiencing the recklessness of young “love” while you feel like you are always a bit on the fringes, but hang in there.
3. You will now have a very healthy respect for the rules your dad has made for you concerning your dating life. There will be a few guys who brave the waters as you get older and a couple of them will turn into fleeting relationships. Most, though, you will realize are wrong for you and you will politely decline. At first you will decline simply because you have no desire to repeat today’s experience, but in time you begin to realize that you are declining because you have come to understand that your father is right. His love and protection of you has created a sense of understanding of your own worth and you begin defending your own honor, realizing that a few of the guys you might have said yes to if not for your dad, would have taken you down a road paved with heartbreak and regret and possibly a few bad decisions you may not have been able to come back from.
4. For a little while you will feel like you are missing out on all of the exciting romance of youth, but in reality you aren’t. You are actually just saving yourself and all of those experiences to share with the man you will one day marry. As archaic and old fashioned as that sounds and as everyone will try to convince you that it is, it’s not. Your life will be more full of love and romance and friendship and the kind of happily every after you thought only existed in fairytales. Every day for the rest of your life you will get to wake up knowing that there is no other person in the world who you have shared yourself with like you have with the love of your life. He is a man who will love, honor and respect you. He is a man who will see you for everything that you are and everything that you are not and find you beautiful and irreplaceable. He is a man who will hold your heart with a sense of awe and cherish the gift he has been given. He will make your life complete in a way that you don’t yet realize is possible. His arms will give you a sense of safety that gives you wings to chase the dreams you don’t even know you have and the courage to aim for the mountain tops with the knowledge that if you fall, it will be into a warm embrace. He is a man who will be well worth the wait and the “sacrifice” of those romantic experiences you won’t have and you don’t need.
5. Lastly, and most important, you need to know that your dad already knows that all of this lies ahead of you. He sees the future you have the potential of living in and he sees the value of everything inside of you. He loves you enough to do everything within his power to protect that future for you and ensure that you reach it as unscathed and whole as possible.
I know you are angry right now and that you feel betrayed, but don’t hold onto those feelings for too long. Someday, sooner than you think, you will look back on this moment and realize that it was quite possibly one of the greatest gifts your father ever gave you.
If you could tell your past self 5 things, what would you say?
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