He loves hearing what his author-daughter is up to, no matter how dull or boring my life may actually be.
Our conversations are short. I usually talk about my two adult kids (of course, they’re my husband Dan’s too) and our incontinent fifteen-year-old mini-dachsund Beanie (my husband’s, especially right after Beanie’s moments of incontinence).
Somehow, no matter what dull and mundane Life Details I tell my father, he hears Something Else–words that sound like a publicist wrote them. My books are soaring to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. My husband Dan is bearing down on his eighth Ph.D. and is ready to take over as CEO of his company. Somehow my dad refuses to deal in realities and prefers to live in a world of his own creation.
Conversations with Dad used to puzzle me.
Then about a year ago my family figured out that Dad has Asperger’s, and a whole lot of things about my life suddenly made sense.
Like why no matter how much I talked to Dad as a child, I never felt heard. I wish I’d known back then that Dad and I didn’t speak the same language, although we both communicated in English.
I wish five-year-old Shelly had known there was a reason her dad didn’t know how to connect with her. Little Shelly spent a lot of years trying to figure out what she had to do to feel noticed and loved.
But in trauma therapy this year, Little Shelly learned she wasn’t invisible after all, a lie she’d believed for many years. She learned her dad had always tried to listen to her and speak the words he still can’t bring himself to speak out loud.
So here’s the simple truth in a world of parallel truths. No matter how hard he may try, after more than a half-century of parenting, my dad simply can’t choke out the words, “I love you.” But he calls me every day. Why?
Because my dad loves me so much he believes I’m a rock star.
So I’ve learned to hear those three words anyway. And believe them.
Especially because the New York Times may never call, and the dog is going to keep on…well…you know…staining the carpet. And even though my world is imperfect, my father always sees me through the lens of his unique vision for me. It was pure revelation when I figured this out.
My Dad has chosen to see me as a rock star, even on days when the dog stains the carpet. It’s the only way he can see me.
And on carpet-stain, life-kicking-you-in-the-gut days, God’s love for me never changes either. Nothing I do can convince Him to love me one iota more or less. Because my true identity is about who I am IN Him.
I’m a beloved child, whose Heavenly Father hangs on every word from His daughter.
Photo Credit: PolkaDotDivas.com