Story on Confrontation
City: Los Angeles
My dad never told me "I love you."
I had an uncomfortable confrontation with my Dad when I asked him to tell me he loves me.
My whole childhood my Dad wasn’t really around. He came in and out, cordially and formally, the way a godmother might. He left my mom for his Russian translator. My siblings were angry; I was more indifferent. His absence ensured my Mom and I were always each other's Friday and Saturday night movie dates.
As I reached college, my Dad began to reach out to me more. My big sister once told me over a cigarette and Smirnoff Ice that "Dad only likes us when we're adults." I guess she was right.
As my dad and I got closer I drooled over his adventures in post-soviet Russia and his crazy stories about going door to door in 1970s Los Angeles trying to sell car-sized computers to businesses. The only problem was he never told me "I love you."
I never consciously knew I was upset about it, until we were on a family vacation (us kids, the Russian translator – now my stepmother – and Dad). My Dad asked me an innocuous question about my future, which gave me anxiety and made me feel not good enough for him. I promptly burst into tears and ran up to my hotel room. My two sisters sat comforting me on the bed as I wailed, "He never tells me he loves me." My younger sister told me a story he’d told her, entailing how proud he was of me. I wailed louder. "Why wouldn't he tell ME that? Who needs to be ASKED to say I love you to their DAUGHTER?"
I went on a long walk with my Dad the next day and asked him if he loved me and he answered, “Of COURSE,” which, I admit, I had known deeply and surely for a long time. I asked him to say it more. And now he does. My Dad has said "I love you" nearly every day since.
People have different needs. I needed to be told “I love you,” even if I knew it was true without him saying it. I needed the words, and my Dad was happy to give them to me once I spoke up and confronted him.