An Obligation to Know

Annika - Corona del Mar, California
Entered on May 3, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Junior year of high school my dad disappeared from my life, leaving me unsure of what had happened and why. I didn’t see him again until spring break later that school year at a bar in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was an awkward, coincidental encounter, but I was still on his side, still his little girl and glad to see him. Gradually, however, I began to learn the fallacy that was my father—our father-daughter bond was broken and memories were shattered.

Nevertheless, he was my father and I felt a responsibility to respect him. And I did. He had hurt people in my life but my father had yet to disrespect me, his only child. The failings of my father were his own; people deserve second chances.

A few months before my high school graduation, I found out Doug stole from me. All of his lies now culminated into a specific act in which I could direct my disdain. The truth about Doug continued to reveal itself as I dealt with the repercussions of my empty college fund. To put it politely, I found out he was a great storyteller—to put it honestly, I learned that Doug is a compulsive liar.

An encounter spring break my junior year in college would lead me to the realization that knowing is always better than not knowing. It had been over three years since I had seen or even heard from him and yet there he was, sitting across the bar from me—an ironic situation, to say the least. I had spent many times with him at his favorite bars but the context of our relationship had changed drastically with my memories of him now severely altered and my respect for him completely gone. I was no longer able to see him as my dad or even my father; he was just Doug, at a bar, living his life separate from mine.

It was then that I understood the value and power of knowing. Ignorance is not bliss—ignorance had brought me to a place that was uncomfortable and incomprehensible. Not knowing brought humiliation. Not knowing gave him power he did not deserve. What I thought I had known was not reality and finding out your reality is not the truth is overwhelmingly invalidating. Because of the lies—his lies—I believe in knowing.