Growing up, I was always daddy’s little girl.
Then, as I got a bit older and started high school, things changed. My father and I no longer saw eye-to-eye on anything anymore. We couldn’t be in the same room for more than a few minutes without arguing. Our relationship had severely deteriorated, and our exchanges had become consistently negative.
I made up my mind that I wanted to be nothing like him when I grew up.
I left home to find myself and began to do the inner work to heal my past traumas. Through vehicles such as yoga, meditation and breath-work, I was able to discover the areas where my body was storing past emotional scars.
As I worked on myself, I began to find a self-love and an appreciation for myself I never had before. I became my own best supporter and stopped doing things with the expectation of getting approval from others (especially from my dad).
Then, something interesting happened that I’d never expected—my relationship with my dad did a complete turn-around. My dad started opening up to me, and I began learning things about him that helped me understand him better. I learned about his regrets in life, fears he’s had, lessons he’s learned along the way and how he had overcome many obstacles in his life.
All the things I used to hate about him, I saw in a new light—how those things I hated in him, were parts of myself I had not yet accepted.
This poem is about that journey and how sometimes the people who challenge you the most can offer the greatest opportunities, for a deeper self-understanding. It is about how self-love ultimately translates into more love and acceptance for others.
Why I’m Proud to be my Father’s Daughter:
I don’t really know when it happened, what started it, or why
But one day I went from being daddy’s princess
To not being able to look you in the eye
Maybe it happened overnight
Or maybe it was a slow gradual process
But all I know is one day
I wanted to be nothing like you when I grew up
All I saw were your faults,
And all you saw were mine
And rarely did we exchange words
That didn’t end in a bitter fight
So I distanced myself from you
To find myself
An interesting thing happened over the years
What started out as bitterness, resentment, even anger and hate
All the ways I distracted myself
To not have to face where I had come from
Looking blindly to the future
As if it was some beacon of hope
Like you could ignore the past
And create for yourself a new fate
Entirely independent of your history
Somewhere along the lines there was truth
I found it through yoga
Which taught me to live in my body once again
To breathe life through every organ
Even the places where I held so tightly that no breath could flow through or escape
All the parts of me I hated
I came to know and accept
And even came to love
That’s when I saw it
Behind the man that I saw as cold, bitter, difficult, unable to love
I saw the softness around the ridges of your eyes
The tenderness of your emotions
The loyalty of your heart
I remembered all the ways in which we argued when I was younger
And saw how they were really all the ways you made me better
And taught me everything I know
You’re the one who taught me to shut the TV off, that there’s no such thing as staying the same, you either regress or you progress
You’re the one who taught me not to cover up my face with makeup, that those harsh chemicals only masked my true beauty
You’re the one who taught me that the best photos were not the ones you pose for, but that are taken when the person isn’t looking, because that’s when their essence really shines through
You’re the one who taught me that your character is not judged by what you do when everyone’s eyes are on you, but by what you do when no one is looking
That true confidence comes from quiet determination that seeks no approval or praise
You’re the one who taught me that you can tell a lot about someone by how they treat you in two circumstances: when things are going amazing for them, and when things are going awful for you.
You’re the one who taught me not to take a pill when I felt sick, that the body is strong and able to heal, if only you would listen to it
You’re the one who taught me that dreams are important and that you should pay attention to them
When I brought you a souvenir from a field trip to show you I was thinking about you, You told me the best gifts in life are the ones that you cannot buy.
And I thought in every one of these ways,
That you were just being difficult
You’re the one who taught me that if you want something in life, you can either complain about it and not have it
Or you can learn to be creative and resourceful and make it happen for yourself
You taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to. That if I could imagine it my hands would obey and become the creators.
You taught me there are no limits to what you can do.
This was at a time,
When I thought I was so small, so insignificant, so meek
That I couldn’t understand
Why you wouldn’t just let me be the same as everyone else
So I could just blend in and not be noticed
I thought you were just trying to limit me and belittle me
When in fact you were the one that saw that I was destined for greatness
And much to my resistance
You pushed me without ever giving up on me
And everything you thought I could be
I came to see how all the parts of me that I wanted to change, were really the best parts of me
And I got them all from you
Some may call it foolishness but I call it courage when you to decided leave a country, a life and everything you knew behind so that you could give your kids a better life and fighting chance
Some may call it harsh but I call it vision to see the best in others and push them towards that even if they don’t see it yet
Some may call it opinionated but I call it passionate and finding something worth sharing with others
Some may call it foolish to think you can surpass your economic background but I call it determined to not let anything knock you down
Some may call it hopeless to reject holidays as an excuse to give gifts but I call it romantic to give from the heart instead
Some may call it shy but I call it brave enough to reflect on yourself and try to become better every day
Some may call it pretentious to only entertain intelligent conversations but I call it humble enough to realize you’ve always got something left to learn
And I got all these gifts from you.
I used to think it was a compliment when people would say,
You have your mother’s eyes
Because it meant for me that I was different than you
But now I realize, while I may have gotten my eyes from mom,
I got the rest from you.
And I would find it a compliment if someone said,
You have your dad’s heart
Because it would mean I have the heart of a lion
Loyal to a fault
Able to see the best in others
Giving without asking for anything in return
And proud to see those around you succeed
Without taking any credit for helping them get there
Everything I learned about love
I learned from you
Now if someone tells me there is someone in their life they may hate
Or feel great difficulty and resistance towards
I would ask them to reflect
On what it is they see in that person
That they have not yet come to love in themselves
I would ask them to take a second look
For it could just be their greatest lesson
It could be an opportunity to become the best version of themselves
If only they would open up to the idea of letting love through
They may even come to appreciate that person
And see them in a new light
It could be a chance
Not to rewrite history
But to give it the context it was always meant to embody
If you can only shine the light on your shadows
You can appreciate your gifts in yourself and see it in others
Where there once was hate
Because it means there is an opportunity for love
Where you once felt like a victim
You can find power within you didn’t know existed
Where you once wanted to run away
There can be a chance for a new day
It’s never too late
To see things in a new way.