I’ve thought about writing you for years, to say the things I was too afraid to say at 17 when you came back into my life after leaving me at 4. After 13 years of silence I never imagined I would ever see your face again. In the wake of your departure, I would look out my window every night and dream of you. I couldn’t handle the truth. I couldn’t exist in a world where daddies walked out on his kids. Your absence has haunted my every waking step. At 37, I can’t even write this without getting choked up. Without feeling that ball of sorrow spin in my throat and chest.
You were my first great love. You and mom. At 17 I was just finding the courage to live in my truth but I was scared and unsure of myself. When you showed up at my doorstep at 17 I remember how nervous I was for you to see me. I was a mess. At 17 I was taken from my school where I had grown up my whole life and forced to go to school in another state. I had just fallen in love for the first time in my life in my home town and it had only been 3 months when my parents made me move states. I had no friends in this new state. My whole life was back home. In a fit of anger and resentment I rose up against my mother and step-father who professed that my senior year belonged to them. They loved me and didn’t want to miss out on my last year of school, it’s understandable, but I deserved to graduate with my friends and they wouldn’t help me so I took a stand. With 900.00 in savings, I left my home and emancipated myself at 17 so I could graduate in my home town and be with my boyfriend.
That was the first time I took a stand and came face to face with my own courage.
I moved into a Chinese house, in a very white town that lacked cultural diversity. My boyfriend’s father was dying of cancer, and while he was away at college 1.5 hours from me I stayed in his parents house with his younger siblings and parents, and took care of my boyfriend’s dying father.
My mother was so hurt by my choice to leave she refused to talk to me and all the friends I once had were swallowed up by new found reality of imminent death and loneliness. My boyfriend was consumed by his father’s illness and he grew distant from me, guarding his heart. Rightfully so. In a blink of my eye my life had flipped from something I recognized to a living nightmare. There was no where for me to run, no where for me to hide and I was losing everything. My parents, my boyfriend, and my sense of security and sanity. I worked to contribute but when my boyfriend’s father died I had to go live somewhere else. His uneducated mother, who had never paid a bill in her life, was now widowed with 3 children and feared for their well being and couldn’t take on dealing with another mouth to feed. It was during this time I ran into someone who used to know you. Apparently they told you my circumstances and you came for me, like I always dreamed you would. I wasn’t allowed to take calls at work, but it was urgent. The man on the other line said, “Kelly, your dad is in town, he wants to meet you.”
I was holding a mop in my hand as my reality became so surreal I could barely stand straight. I was seventeen. My life was a shit show and you decided to show up when my attempt to be big and strong made me feel more like a failure than anything. I didn’t want you to see me this way. Struggling. Lost. Alone. Depressed.
I WAS SO MUCH MORE THAN THIS, and yet my life didn’t reflect this greater truth one bit.
I night you came I had no idea what to expect. I had waited for this moment my entire life.
13 years without a word, without a card, NOTHING.
When you knocked on the door I expected to run into your arms and finally find the peace I had sought my whole life.
You wore a baseball cap and the man I saw wasn’t the man I remembered. You were 21 years old when you left and you were someone I didn’t know and didn’t recognize. I thought I would feel something. Love. Connection. Reborn. Revitalized. Restored. But I felt NOTHING. Just this endless void.
I may as well been dead for how numb I was holding out for you for soooooo long.
You had finally showed up and till this day I am not sure why you showed up.
Were you coming to save me, dad? Did you hope that catching me when I was down would woo you back into my loving embrace? Or did you find me right at the cusp of my independence where you wouldn’t have to lend a dime for the repercusions of your mistakes?
A month before you showed up I watched the only boy I had ever loved laying on top of his dad begging him not to die as his father died.
And here was my dear old dad resurrected from God knows where with no real explanation. I was so small and fractured inside I couldn’t even feel my own anger toward you.
In a state of utter and total chaos I needed some semblance of normalcy and so I forced myself to make everything ok so I didn’t have to sit with the magnitude of how FUCKED UP MY LIFE WAS.
I had no idea how to be angry with you when all I wanted was YOU my entire life. Instead of allowing my anger to help me understand the basic truth: you were a deadbeat dad, I made excuses for you. I couldn’t allow myself to acknowledge the truth. I was afraid if I raged at all you would leave again and so I swallowed the truth and cowered. As we walked and you showed me 4 lousy attempts you made to check on me and my brother is 13 fucking years, I still couldn’t speak the truth. I couldn’t even accept the truth.
No part of me understood how anyone could abandon their kids.
Breaking a child’s heart is the worst crime in the world.
I know this. I am a parent now.
I let you go a long time ago, but the other day I realized that I never said the things I wanted to say to you, and that if I really wanted to change my story I needed to release the story I was born into.
I’ve spent my life thinking there was no point in talking to a man who cannot self reflect, but I can, and if I want to give up the ghost I have to speak the words. ALOUD. FOR ME.
WORDS, when spoken with TRUTH travel far and penetrate all of reality. It’s what I am good at dad.
Maybe you will never see this and maybe if you did, you still wouldn’t own the magnitude of what you’ve done.
You aren’t a man who can own his shit and you aren’t a man who can take responsibility, and I don’t expect you to now.
I don’t remember the day you left. I remember when you kidnapped me from my mom. I remember the look of fear and terror in her eyes as she reached for me and thought she might never see me again. I later learned that look of terror and fear came from your threats you made to my mom, that you would take me and my brother and you kill yourself and us. My mother told me that when you left I went and packed my pink suitcase and I waited on the front porch for you to come back and you didn’t. Just thinking of myself at that age hoping, praying, wishing, not understanding, broken, makes me so sad I can barely stand it.
You broke me as a child.
Not only did you break my heart, you tore the very fabric of reality.
Even at 4, I knew the fundamental difference between right and wrong.
What you did was fundamentally WRONG.
I could have dismantled the atmosphere with my cries, with the level of sorrow that burned through every square inch of my tiny body.
Every day that I woke up was a nightmare.
One I could never escape from.
No child should have to know that kind of pain at such a small age.
My mother was too young and too angry at you to understand the depth of pain I was in, and because I was so young I lacked the awareness and ability to communciate my feelings.
There are no words to describe the level of betrayal I felt.
My heart was pure and not only did you force me to feel strong emotions I didn’t know how to navigate at such a young age, you forced me to split.
If I stayed in my heart I would have died from the level of pain that consumed my little being.
Not once did you write me a letter to tell me it wasn’t my fault. Not once did you do anything honorable to ease my suffering or soothe my tortured soul.
You could have done ANYTHING and it would have meant EVERYTHING to me.
You robbed me of the one thing every little girl needs from her daddy to form a good sense of herself.
I will never know what it felt like to run into your arms and feel honored or received.
I will never know what it feels like to have my worth reflected in your eyes.
Even as a child you bought me trucks, things you liked instead of things I liked.
You were horrible to my mother. You cut her down every chance you got. You made her starve when she was pregnant with me. Instead of taking care of your family you spent all the money on stupid toys like the emotionally potty training fool you were/are.
My mother would cry herself to sleep, starving, while you just went about your life in the narcissistic way that you do.
I have had to claw my way out of the hole you left me to rot.
I have had to awaken to every relationship I played out that was a smokescreen of you.
I should be way more fucked up than I am because of what you did.
I am either one hell of a soul or I am divinely protected because even in the face of all the darkness you left me in at 4, I managed to see the truth and see myself without you reflecting me.
You may be my biological father and your blood may run through my veins, but if there is one thing I know: I AM NOT YOU or YOUR UNCONSCIOUS SELF.
I AM YOUR POTENTIAL and SO MUCH MORE THAN YOU.
Don’t think I don’t know where I got my wicked intellect or mind from.
YOU WERE THE MOST BRILLIANT STUPID MAN, DAD.
And you squandered it. You squandered your own brilliance and relationship with your children.
And for what? You didn’t want to pay child support?
Fortunately, I didn’t follow in your footsteps. I am not stupid like you. I have sense of honor and accountability.
I am wise enough to know you never escape the lessons you must learn, so no matter what legacy of you and your potential I carry in me you’re still fucked.
My whole life I feared becoming someone like you, but I never was. Whatever beauty and strength I have I got from my mother and from my own soul, and whatever cells you gave me that I allowed to prosper through me.
I take responsibility for choosing a man like you to be my father, but this isn’t my way of letting off the hook.
YOU’RE A PIECE OF SHIT, YOU’RE AN ABANDONER, A COWARD, A NARCISSIST, AND LOUSEY HUMAN BEING.
Your actions, though completely and fundamentally WRONG, forced me to find myself against all odds.
I have lost the most precious part of myself and reclaimed it. I have been burned alive and risen from ashes. And I have died ten times over and been reborn.
I look like you. The edginess of my features are all you.
For everything you took from me, you also gave me life and traits that I cherish immensely. You were a silent teacher.
It’s been 20 years now since I last saw you. Our encounter was shortlived, like many things when it comes to you.
I know I will never see you again and I never want to.
You missed a life changing opportunity to get to know your daughter and see her shine.
I made myself without you.
And I will walk till the day I die without you.
Some day you will see what you’ve done and you will you know the suffering of your actions.
Whatever good is in you lives on in me, and me alone.
Your potential and everything you had that you couldn’t use, I DID.
I OWNED IT.
I cultivated it.
I forgive you for having a cold heart.
I forgive you and myself for every wrong move I made as a result of you abandoning me.
I hurt myself over and over again looking for you in the face of every man I saw.
I will never forget you, and the love I felt toward you IS MINE.
Whatever agreement we had is now finished, Mike.
I will never attract another man like you in to my life. I know better. I am not looking for you anymore.
I don’t need you to see me or reflect my worth.
You have no idea what caliber of soul chose this body you created.
But at your death, you will know.
YOU ARE MY FATHER AND YOU WILL NEVER ESCAPE THE PART OF YOU THAT AWOKE IN ME.
It’s only a matter of time…
I release this story and I release you.
Your first born,
I wrote this for ME, but I also wrote this for those who have never known how to release the greatest pain of their lives. There are unspeakable things that happen in this world every single day. It doesn’t matter who’s had it worse, there is no comparison in the world of pain, only pain, and the liberation that comes from releasing that pain.
This is my RELEASE.
When people tell you that you aren’t your story, you will never know what that means until you confront THE STORY.
This is one major aspect of my story.
For those you who have been broken by your parent(s), please hear me, my voice is the same voice in you. You’re not alone in the dark and it’s okay to say the words you long to say.