You used to be my father. Although you are still in my life, I can’t see you as my dad now. I’ve always believed that forgiveness is not for those who need to be forgiven, but for those who need to do the forgiving. Hatred is a poison that rips apart your soul, and the only way to get rid of it is to forgive those you feel you hate. The things you have done are not as bad as the things you could have done, I suppose, but they are far from the things you SHOULD have done. I would expect those things from a horrible jerk. I can forgive you as a human being, but not as a father. I’ve been calling you by your first name in my head; I haven’t seen you as Dad in years.
Family is who you feel closest to in your heart. Blood means nothing, though you would disagree. You have a right to your own opinion, but don’t expect me to accept it.
You say you never try to talk to me now because I don’t talk to you. I won’t complain that you don’t contact me because I don’t WANT to talk to you. However I propose this argument: It was YOU who walked out first, not me. You quit our family several years before you actually physically left. You even admitted to that. Please don’t blame me for something you started.
No, you’re not a “dead beat” like some dads. You pay Mom child support and maintenance (most days) like you should. But fatherhood is more than just money. All you really see now is money, so I don’t expect you to understand. There was a time when you did understand. Your parenting methods were flawed from the beginning, but at least back then you would pay attention to your children. You actually seemed to care back then. Now you’re just a robot when it comes to your kids.
Someone once told me “at least you have a dad.” His dad had walked out on him when he was just a baby. It made me wonder which was worse: not having a dad at all and not knowing what you were missing, having a dad who walked out on you at some point in your childhood (never to be seen again), or my situation of having a dad who just gave up halfway through childhood and stayed around long enough to have two more kids to screw up and be 1/4 the parent he needed to be when it was convenient for him. I know I’m too close to the situation to give a purely unbiased answer, but I feel like the last option is the worst. If your dad leaves before you even know him, then you don’t really know what you’re missing out on. If he leaves and never comes back that’s gonna hurt like hell, but it gives you plenty of time to recover. You don’t have to worry about him coming back to hurt you again. But if he doesn’t fully leave and he isn’t worried about his kids unless it’s convenient for him, then he’s poking nonstop holes into the fabric of stability you’re trying to create. It would be one thing if he even talked to the kids when it wasn’t his time with them, but he doesn’t. He gets them every other weekend during the school year, and every other week during the summer. If it’s not his time he’s too busy living his own life with his girlfriend and seemingly unconcerned with his children.
It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just us older ones, but the younger kids still need a dad. Me and K can handle ourselves. Even R is tired of your half-assed attempts at fatherhood. J and E are still little enough to need you, but it won’t be for long. E is the youngest and she is starting middle school. You’re almost out of time. You’re making the same mistakes with them that you did with me, K, and R. The only difference is that you’re starting earlier with J and E. They don’t have the memories that K and I do of you being a decent dad to look back on. You don’t have as much of a chance for forgiveness with them.
You can’t salvage the relationship you have with us three older kids. The best you and I will have is what I call “close strangers;” it feels kind of like ex-friends who keep running into each other. You’ve completely trashed your relationship with K. You broke her heart when you told her it was her fault you and Mom were getting a divorce. Even worse you sank any hope of recovering from that disaster after you pushed your fist into her chest so she’d have a hard time breathing. You may have convinced yourself you did nothing wrong, but when you heard me running up the stairs to check out the screaming you backed off pretty quickly. Why would you do that if you did nothing wrong? Needless to say K will never forgive you, which saddens me because she’ll have that hatred in her heart for the rest of her life. R’s relationship with you is tricky. His father-son relationship to you borders between the relationship that you and I have, and the relationship you and K have. Either way he wants as little to do with you as possible. Although he is a teenager right now and he may forgive you a little more down the road. J is naive and he doesn’t understand yet. He’s probably the only one of your 5 kids you have a real relationship with at the moment. E caught on when you refused to come to J’s birthday party because Mom wouldn’t let you bring your girlfriend. She has a lot of anger towards you, but she’s still afraid of you. So you still have some control over E and J, which should make you happy. After all, that’s why you did a lot of what you did. You have control issues. I’m not saying that it justifies all the things you did as a parent or a person, but it helps me understand a little bit.
I know why you left. You didn’t want a family anymore. Whether you’ll admit that to yourself or not, I don’t know. You may say that that isn’t why you left, but actions speak louder than words. Your actions center around you and what you want. You don’t take anybody else into consideration unless it benefits or effects you. When I was little and I found out that you and Mom got married after you had me, I had convinced myself it was my fault you got married. Somehow I blamed myself for coming into existence. I thought that you two fought all the time and were miserable because you got married, and you got married because of me. When I asked you about it, you told me that was not the case at all. You said that you and Mom had gotten married because you loved each other and the two of you had actually refused to get married for the couple months that you did because you didn’t want to get married because of me. I still had a hard time believing that, but after time I came to terms with that fear on my own. I suspect there’s still a hint of guilt inside me for your marriage, but for the most part I’ve let go of that concern. Several years after I’d made my peace with that fear, you and I had a discussion about K and her boyfriend. You made a comment about how she was going to wind up pregnant and force her boyfriend to feel like he had to stay and support her and their child, so he would end up marrying her. You said “trust me, I know.” Can you imagine how messed up I would have been over that had I not already gotten over my fear of being responsible for your marriage? Or how about a less direct inconsiderate comment? When I was about 9, you pulled me aside and asked me that if you and Mom were to get a divorce who would I want to go and live with. This would have been a perfectly fine question had you actually split up then, but you didn’t. You stayed married for another 10 years! From age 9-16 my biggest fear was that my parents would split up. The two of you fought often, and with each fight I was instantly tossed back into that fear as if it were brand new. For seven years that fear gripped my heart until I finally decided I didn’t care anymore. I actually found myself wishing and hoping that you would split up. Point being, here, that you don’t stop to consider anybody else before you act. You only see yourself and what you want.
You don’t have to explain yourself to me, because I already see the truth. It might not be your version of the truth or the truth that you want me to see, but it’s closer to the actual truth. You can’t see the real truth because you’re too busy blinding yourself. Everything that goes wrong in your life is somebody else’s fault. And if you do something bad you have to create your own version of what really happened to protect your ego. It’s because you know what you did was wrong, but you have no idea how to take/accept responsibility for it. It’s like when Mom “called the cops on you.” I was out with R, J, and E at McDonalds when you called me and said not to bring the kids home. You didn’t want them to see you getting arrested. When I asked you what happened, you said you pushed Mom and she flipped out and called 911. After a long night where you were not arrested (because Mom never called the cops), I found out what really happened the next day. You did push her. You pushed her with your hands on her neck right into the bathroom counter. She had bruises on her neck from your fingers and a big bruise on her back from where she hit the counter. I saw them myself when me and K went to visit her at her work. That was years ago and you still can’t admit to yourself that you did anything more than push her.
I want you to understand that I don’t hold any hate or resentment toward you anymore. I know you don’t believe that, but I still want you to know. I also realize that some of what I’ve said probably seems like it contradicts that statement. But I don’t say these things because I’m angry about them. I say them because I want you to understand. I want you to understand the mistakes you made in the past so you don’t repeat them with J and E. I want you to understand why I don’t see you as my family anymore. I also want you to understand that I don’t plan on completely cutting you out of my life. It’s not that I don’t want you out of my life, but that I don’t want to deny you or myself the part of my life that you may actually want some day. I don’t want to tell you that you can’t walk me down the aisle on my wedding day. I don’t want to keep you from seeing your grandkids, although I want you to understand that you will not be allowed to see them alone (someone else will be with you when they are with you). I don’t feel like it would be right to take those things away from you. Do you deserve to have them? I couldn’t really say for sure, but I’m going to be the better person and give them to you anyway.
A lot of people don’t understand why. People I’ve talked to before have scoffed at me for allowing those things to you after all you’ve put my family through. But I just smile when they do. They don’t understand. Maybe it’s purely selfish of me, but I know I would feel terrible if I took those things away from you just to be spiteful. You wouldn’t understand why I took them away anyways, and then you’d be angry and resentful. So what purpose would taking those things from you serve? Other than creating two bitter souls, that is. Besides, if I took that part of my life away from you I would be no better than you are. I would just be looking out for number one, which is not the type of person I want to be. I’m not saying you’re a bad person, but I won’t say you’re a good person either. Parents are supposed to influence the people their kids turn into. Nobody ever said that had to be a positive influence. I’ve discovered who I don’t want to be by watching you. Even if you’re not part of my family now, you’ve still taught me so much. Thanks for that much, I guess. And thanks for being there in the beginning. I wish I could still feel like you are my dad, but I just don’t hold you in my heart like I used to. I’m sorry.
My one big regret here is that I’ll never have the heart to send you this letter. I only wrote it to bring out what I wish I could say. The problem is that I know this letter will hurt you. And I know that, no matter how badly I wish for it, you won’t understand. So this is one letter that I’ll never ever send. I’ll just keep stringing you along as the daughter you think is still yours. I’ll blatantly make you look like a fool to those who know the truth but would never say anything, by pretending things never really changed. Because I’m too much of a coward to hurt your feelings. I know that’s really shitty of me, but I never said I was a good person.