Oooh, the wonderful 70's. Here I am with my dad. I was 9 years old and we were heading to the Brownie Father Daughter banquet. You might not know by looking, but things were not as they seemed in this photo. My mom and this dad were married two years before...(actually this WAS...no longer IS....my step dad..now he's my REAL Dad). We made it official my 8th or 9th grade year..he adopted my sister and I, thus changing our last names from Woods to Willis...so, he IS officially THE DAD. :) I am more than thrilled beyond belief that my wonderful father and I are close. I adore him and would give him everything I am. He and mom are now retired in North Carolina, braving hurricane scares, living in their ultimate dream house, fishing *dad*, antiquing *mom*, gardening, eating out, loving life. I couldn't be happier for them. My dad and I have gotten closer than we've ever been over the last 4 years....I turned 40 in March of this year. I'll never forget, a few years ago, we were talking on instant messenger and he called me "sweetie". I didn't say anything, but I cried....he'd never ever called me that before. He began phoning me for the first time in my life. A few months after the first "sweetie", we were online again and he typed it again..."sweetie". I spoke up and typed..."hey, you called me sweetie." He said, "I know, it's the second time." Amazing ...it was such a big deal to me, I never realized that he'd actually know it was just the second time in our lives we shared that connection...but he did. Things were different in my childhood. My dad married a woman with two little girls. I was in 1st grade, my sister in second. We had gone through a horrendous childhood before we'd ventured into a new life with our new dad. He had never had kids before...knew nothing about what to do with two little girls. We, on the other hand had been born with a dad who was physically and emotionally abusive. I've blocked out many of the memories but I do remember waiting in the car as 1st dad walked mom into the hospital after breaking her hand. I remember my mothers tears, my sister being locked out in the backyard as we watched through the sliding glass door...she wasn't allowed back in until she went down the slide backwards the way I had earlier. I'll never forget it...my mom hysterically crying inside and me looking through that glass door as this little 5 year old sat swinging in the dark....all by herself...not allowed in. We left the next morning...the three girls. It was the last straw, as mama was willing to stay while being abused, but refused to allow us to suffer too. We moved into a very poor neighborhood, in an apartment complex in Poly, Texas. It's amazing that my memory is such crap now, but I can remember so vividly my life in those apartments. Mama and dad started dating during this time. *she's Mom now...but was ONLY mama as I grew up...I'm from texas...all kids called their moms mama. :)* By the time they got together, I'd survived a physically & emotionally abusive father and had spent 3 years being sexually abused in daycare center run by an older couple. "Uncle JoJo" was someone I trusted. Not a good thing, I learned...Men BAD...I never wanted to trust one again. I was not, in any way, shape or form ready to trust any man. My new dad tried to be encouraging, he really tried to bring me in...I was petrified. I'm sure it looked to him like I was just this pain in the ass kid who didn't want to share her mama...let's not forget, he was a young man in his late 20's. The fear of men haunted me throughout my childhood. It really had nothing at all to do with Dad...he was wonderful...I'd just never known a man in my entire 6 years before meeting him who would not hurt me or my mother & sister. My sister warmed up to him immediately, as was her way. She and dad formed an instant bond that is strong to this day. I, on the other hand was scared, reserved and lost my chance for love from the begining...he tried, I didn't reciprocate....I was a pain in the ass...he worked like a dog to support a new wife and kids that weren't even his...and the youngest one who didn't appreciate one ioda of what he did for her. It was a damned relationship from the start. I know that he has no idea that I would sit in the backseat of the car...even as old as 16 years....if my mom wasn't with us...if it was just Dad and myself or even is my sister was in the car. I would sit in the backseat in a panic. I would work out the plan in my head..."okay, if he pulls into the woods to hurt me, I will run the opposite way and get out as quick as I can...I will look for a big rock, a huge stick..anything to protect myself...I will make myself safe." I didn't just do this with my dad...I had these same plans worked out when I was left alone with any man. This was a major, personal issue when husbands would take me home after babysitting. I babysat throughout my early teens, as most kids do...and I would pray, every time..."please let the mom take me home...please, please" In most cases, it was the dad...and I would grip that door handle, having planned my escape, my leap from the car, my way to save myself. I'd eventually arrive home with my heart pounding and a $6 dollar check after spending 10 hours babysitting two of the biggest brats in town. My dad has no idea how much I wanted and needed him while I was growing up. How hard it was for me to watch him with my sister...I was always the odd man out. Recently, after attending several sessions with an ADD therapist, (my daughter and I were both diagnosed this year) I spoke just a little about the conflict my dad and I had during my childhood. He said, "Tracy, it's hard for a BLOOD relative to love an ADD kid...it's almost impossible for a step parent to deal with." You have no idea what those words meant to me. Even tho I couldn't help the fact that I was an ADD kid...it made me feel better to know that there was a reason he had a hard time being in the same room with me. I'm reliving this all, all over again, as of late. My youngest daughter and my husband are in a battle. He has no idea how painful this is for me and how I am actually having to live the rejection, the battles, the insecurity a little girl faces by not being unconditionally loved by her father. I remember in the midst of my struggles of coming to terms with my childhood after my own daughters were born, I told my therapist..."He was the adult! Of course I was a pain in the ass....but he was the adult. Isn't the parent REQUIRED to love?? Kids will grow up...they will mature...what the hell is the parent's excuse??? I talked to kem the other night...I'm literally at my breaking point with everything. I told him that he and kimber were going to have to get together and work this out. I have NOTHING left in me for being the mediator. I can no longer go to bed with bitching from either of them and waking up again with their bitching about each other. I'm sick of it...I can't handle my own life at the moment, I will go right over that deep end having to be responsible for their conflicts. I talked to my sweet mother about it this week. She is worried about me. She knows I'm emotional...she knows what I'm going through...seems she is having to relive what it's like being a mother caught between a husband and daughter she adores. She said that I needed to remember that Kem needs me more than ever...that he is feeling unappreciated by kimber and I need to go out of my way to make him feel good, validated, loved. My thoughts? Where do I find the energy to mother a grown man, two kids and myself when I have nothing left? I'm at a loss. When will it be time for people to take care of me?