When I wrote The Naming of Colton Black, I knew right away that the character of Breslin would be based (loosely) on me. Her personality; her insecurities; her anxiety. All mine. However, her struggle to connect with her dad and his inability to show how much he loved her are the exact opposites of my relationship with my own dad. It was odd, writing so much of myself into Breslin but drawing on other experiences to create such tension between her and her dad.
True, no relationship is perfect. My dad and I both hate confrontation, so many of our resolutions have come through my mom. (Thanks, mom.) But we both love to laugh, write, encourage, pray, travel, spend quiet hours at home, stroll the streets of a busy city, reminisce, budget, listen, stay up late, sample Mexican food, maintain our privacy, hug, go to Disneyland, are highly sensitive people…and the list goes on. Much of who I am is because of the time and attention and love he gave me every. single. day. of my life.
The part that I pulled from then? The desperation to please the people I love. Including my dad. Breslin is desperate to please her dad. And she’ll do whatever it takes to do it–even put herself in danger and attempt something with little chance of success. But in a weird way, I know how she feels. No, my dad is never one to manipulate me into doing something for him. Ever. But I can’t help but want to please him. Isn’t that how we all are with someone? So desperate to make them proud of us. So desperate to do whatever it takes to gain their approval. Even put off discovering who we truly are apart from them.
It took me a long while to naturally separate from my parents. I’m attached to them. Like crazy. What they believed, I believed. What they liked, I liked. Maybe most importantly, what they didn’t like, I didn’t like. And so on. I respect them and their opinions beyond belief. But it finally dawned on me that it’s OK if I liked something different. Even something they didn’t like. It scared me, at first. Scared me into thinking that they would love me less, if I liked or thought something different from them. But of course, it wasn’t true. If anything, it helped reshape our relationship as adults. And that’s what I hope I conveyed in my story. Breslin needed to find herself a part from her dad. And once she did, she could happily reshape her relationship with him. In a healthy, loving, and independent way.
My dad and me. Yes, younger than junior high.