Tomorrow I'll be seeing my father for the first time since November.
Those who are regular readers of my blog will be aware that after never having a relationship with him throughout my life, I traced his whereabouts last year and met him in person in June.
Since then, things got complicated, and I mean extremely complicated, and I wasn't treated as kindly as I could have hoped. Things were rosy, and then they weren't, and without going into specifics the summer of last year were some of the best and some of the worst months of my life.
My father, at around the same age as myself now (22), attempted suicide to a severe degree. He was a self-harmer, a big drinker, an even bigger smoker, and a man who was bent on a life of hard work as a pub manager, alongside a life of self-destruction.
I remember self-harming for the first time at the age of twelve, and as my Mum discovered my cuts and scars, she told me that that was what my biological father used to do. Strange, how I'd never known that before and already I had this connection between myself and my father that I assumed later on in life would strengthen us.
I'm not entirely sure why I decided to trace him last year. It was partly due to a stroke of luck and some excellent hearing skills as to his location, but the drive to actually trace him all on my own was fuelled by something which I can't quite work out. The understanding that I had hoped for between us regarding my long-term struggles with mental illnesses was never truly there. As the months wore on and what seemed to be a good relationship begun to decease, I begun to attribute my life to him. I begun to see myself as not an individual, but a person in relation to her father. I begun to assume that I'd end up like him, and drove myself into the same self-destructive mentality I'd lived with my whole life.
Over time, I have learnt to separate us both as individuals and I can't describe how freeing it has been. I've learnt to accept that I am not the one in the wrong, and I've learned to appreciate and accept my achievements over the last few months. I've actually let this experience strengthen me rather than belittle me which is something I can most definitely be proud of, even if it took a little while.
All I can say is that, don't attribute your life or progresses to anyone other than yourself. See yourself as an individual as opposed to the product of another person's mistakes. I think that's where I was going wrong and this outlook led to emotions and behaviours which I believe that to an extent, I will struggle with forever. I'm seeing him tomorrow and I'm absolutely terrified but I'm far more self-aware than I was a year ago and although I'll never cut him out of my life like he did to me, I'll never attach myself so closely with him again and I'm strong enough now to say that I won't let him ruin me like he did last year.
Am I glad that I tracked him down? Sure. Knowing is better than not knowing and although the past year has been emotionally challenging, it's strengthened me more than I had previously realised.
I have secured myself a two week work experience placement working for a top charity organisation (with hopefully more to come), my blog gained an extra 3000 views just this weekend through it being promoted by the incredible Denise Welch, I reached the end of the second year of my degree and I'm properly beginning to travel for the first time in my life (I'll be in Italy in two weeks and there's a high chance I'm going to Budapest in October). For the first time in my life, I feel as if I know what I want to do once I graduate, that I have options, which I've never felt before. I'm going out more than ever before, and going out on nights out without Nathan and managing to travel to therapy and back on my own. Maybe silly things to be proud of, but if I consider my periods of agoraphobia which have dominated my life for a long time, hell yes I should be proud. Last year I allowed my father to determine the way I felt about myself and this year, although I do still love him dearly, I've learned to take a huge step back and focus on those around me who care far more than he does.
I never realise how much I'm constantly growing until I take a step back on days like today and look at my progress and it's a lovely feeling.
Even if one never feels as if they're progressing, they always are, each and every single day.
I feel like I'm living properly for the first time in years and it's lovely.