I have always dreaded the day the collective "we" comes together to celebrate all the hard work and dedication and love and support that fathers give their children, because I was never given such things. When you grow up with an abusive father, or you have an absent father or you've lost a once-loving father, Father's day is a constant reminder that what others have to celebrate, you either never had or no longer have. Still, there are ways to celebrate Father's Day if your dad is absent; ways that won't make the day so solemn and painful and leave you with an ache that is, understandably, impossible to ignore; ways that remind you that just because your father is no longer around, doesn't mean that Father's Day needs to be a day that causes such an undeniable amount of pain.
I was lucky in that, while my father was abusive and eventually no longer part of my life, I did have other people in my life who gladly filled that hole and picked up his slack. On Father's Day, I choose to celebrate those people, and remind myself that family isn't about the group of people you were born into, but about the group of loved ones you have found who unconditionally care for you and support you and become your people. I call my mother, who was both a mom and a dad to myself and my brother; I celebrate my son's father, who is everything my dad and his dad either couldn't be, or simply didn't want to be; I let the men who ended up becoming father figures in my life, know how much I cherish them and how thankful I am that, when I didn't have a dad to turn to, they were there.
And, honestly, if it all gets too overwhelming, I simply spend time with myself and give myself some well-deserved self-care. Honestly, Father's Day can be anything you want it to be, especially if your dad is absent. So, with that in mind, here are a few ways I have, albeit unconventionally, celebrated a day that, for far too long, made me just feel alone. Because, well, you're never, ever, alone.