by Cory Berg

All my life I thought about finding my father. It's every single-parent-kid's dream.

For me it was very important to satisfy that curiosity. Eventually I just couldn't shelve it any more. Growing up without a father resulted in an awful lot of pain and bitterness for me, as I tried to fill a part of myself that would not be filled by anything a mother or anyone else could offer. I had a couple of mentors and role models that I "borrowed" some of my more valuable principles from, but nothing can match the importance of the father. My rather domineering mother always scoffed at my growing curiosity about my father over the years, and insisted that my wonderings were somehow unnatural, and unnecessary. She painted him as a self-centred and self-serving asshole.

My plan started as a small "what if..." thought in the back of my mind, because I had never realistically considered the possibility that I might be successful. One thought that drove me ahead was that some day it might be too late to do it. Some people never get the chance, or have the chance and let the uncertainty get the best of them. I guess I just wanted it badly enough that I had to move forward although I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I had a certain image from my mom, and I had another image of what I hoped to find.

I figured that whatever I found was going to change me quite a bit, but I sure didn't expect the extent of the change.

Finding dad turned out to be quite easy - I actually I had a vague idea of where he was living and I looked him up through directory assistance. Before I knew it I was on the phone with him. I had trouble speaking because I was all choked up. I didn't even know what to say.

We arranged a meeting in Vancouver. Seeing each other for the first time in 22 years was quite a shocker. It was like something you'd see in a movie. I had no idea what he looked like. I convinced the bus driver to stop before getting to the hotel so that I could try to put on a tie with my nervous hands shaking so bad. I told her I had to look decent to meet my dad for the first time. What an experience!

It became clear to me then and through subsequent meetings that my father wasn't the person who was painted for me growing up. We were able to talk quite easily, and he told me about events from the past from his perspective. He even showed me pictures of myself that he had kept all these years, which I had never seen before. He had kept abreast of as much of my life as he could, given the distance my mother tried to put between us. He knew some of the places I had lived. He had copies of some things I wrote over 10 years ago that got into the local newspaper. It was absolutely unbelievable. It made me realise that he really cared, which was not something I was led to believe. That was very painful, and difficult to accept, because suddenly I felt very cheated. Perhaps it would have been easier for me to deal with it, had he fitted the same image that I had been raised to expect. As it was, I felt as though I had been ripped off. I was pissed off at the entire world for being so fucking unjust. He has re-married, but has never had other kids, and he has told me that he feels just as cheated. I try not to blame my mother for it, but I find that difficult to do, especially because she was largely responsible for having him shut out of my life (thanks to the courts), and she has since ostracised me for seeking out "the other side", as if my own learning process were secondary to her beliefs.

I don't call my father "dad". I don't know what "dad" means. At some level, I want to be able to go places and do things, to know what it feels like to be a kid again, only with a father this time. It has been the hardest thing I have ever had to come to terms with to know that it can never be that way. Even now, when I am around him, I am on an emotional roller coaster where one minute I want to give him a bear hug and tell him that I miss him, and another minute I want to sit alone in a corner, bawl my ass off, and lick my wounds.

I really doubt that I will ever be able to fully accept having lost all those years. At the same time, I consider myself lucky that I might have a chance to at least develop some sort of relationship with the guy. I learned a lot about myself from hearing him talk about his own life.

We had even come to think and act quite similarly, having never met each other before. It has given me a different insight into who I am and where I came from. I think I can become a fuller person just knowing these things.

I can't really describe the magnitude of the experience. Sometimes it is still incomprehensible to me. It was a dream for so long. If finding your dad has been your dream too, consider making the dream come true.

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