I didn't know I wanted this until I reached adulthood. Up to then, I thought my life was normal. Like most people's.
But then I went to college and realized that normal was relative to . . . well, to whomever you were speaking.
Some dads were involved and some weren't. I'd never thought much about the fact that my dad worked long hours and didn't speak more than a few words when he was home. He didn't inquire about our lives or come to our childhood events, unless it was with a bored look and longsuffering sigh.
I knew I was loved. On the surface, anyway. Those three words seem to echo without a place to land when they are spoken without the investment of time or sacrifice.
But it left me with a longing for more. To find somewhere I could get those deep needs for love and connection met. Because of that desire, I went down painful roads and made choices that left scars rippling across my life.
My father made his own choices that broke up our family. It wasn't until much later that I heard a woman speaking and what she said moved into my heart in a way that brought immense revelation.
This woman said, "Parental love is like a hot fudge sundae. Everyone is designed to have it, but not everyone gets it. You'll never be free if you focus on what you should have had. The people who gain freedom are the ones who can accept that even though they're never going to get that sundae, they can have a bowl of ice cream and maybe some nuts on top or whipped cream."
I realized that for years I'd been looking for someone or something to fill that void. The void of my father's lost love. The love I should have had.
When she spoke those words, it felt like a missing puzzle piece settled into place. Freedom came with acceptance. I could let the dream go and begin looking forward to what I did have.
And I have a lot.