With Father’s Day upon us, I’m inspired to share a bit of tragedy and a bit of grief. And maybe, a bit of wisdom.
Last night I started reading Small Fry, by Lisa Brennan-Jobs, the daughter of infamous Apple guru Steve Jobs. She begins her memoir three months before his death, taking items from her father’s house, slipping small things like toothpaste, nail polish, and pillowcases into her purse.
Then, she explains. Before she had a sense of right and wrong, her father denied her as his daughter. At two years old she took a DNA test, and scoring the highest percentage at the time, 94.4%, he still rebuked the fact that he was her father.
Years later, taking things from his house sated her. At the time of his death, his net worth had been recorded at around 10.2 billion dollars.
I have yet to read beyond the first chapter, but the reader is left eager to learn her story, the untold truth of a girl made to feel insignificant by the man whose role as a father was supposed to empower her.
I’m a Lisa. I know the tragedy of a father who could not be happy with daughters. I heard the insults, diminishing me to the ways that boys were better-equipped for conflict, for ‘getting over’ it, and why couldn’t I be grateful for what I had. But girls are not boys, and as soon as the expectations are made for girls to behave like them, the shame begins.
I know now that the wounded are the ones who wound. The ways my father had been abandoned by his own father were left unhealed, probably unacknowledged, probably diminished. And given to me.
Everyone owns the right to access or deny their pain. It is a choice of self-awareness, of compassion, of curiosity, and ultimately, of expression, to address the wounds that fester beneath the surface. We have two options: to confront them or to pass them on to our children.
As a girl, my father was young, girded with fear and the expectation to remain stoic. This didn’t work. The societal pressure for boys to turn down their emotions has a fallout, but we don’t have to adhere to the norms. We can be brave, stand in solidarity with our truth, and practice self-love. And when we accept our own story based on the principles of love over shame, we empower the vulnerable inner child who lost an identity to fear.