A Letter to My Father

I managed to write that letter to my father yesterday.

I went through a whirlwind of emotions as I was writing it, but it didn’t stop me. I cried, I wanted to throw my pen at the wall out of anger, and then I cried again. And then it was finished. I didn’t read the letter over; I folded it in half and put it in my planner so I wouldn’t forget to bring it to therapy. Then I laid in bed for an hour and just let whatever was going on inside of me flow through. I was okay.

During our session today, my therapist asked if I wrote the letter. I told her I did. I told her that at first I was afraid that I would break down like I did so many months before, but that I did it and I was okay. She asked if I wanted to go over it, and I said yes. I thought I would be able to hand her the letter and she would read it to herself. But no. She wanted me to read it. My anxiety kicked in. I didn’t think I could do it. I started second-guessing everything. Writing the letter was one thing, but reading it out loud felt like I was putting everything out into the world, that I was voicing everything I felt. I struggle with having a voice because it still feels so inherently wrong to speak.

My therapist saw that I was struggling. She asked me why it was now so hard to talk. She knew why. She said I didn’t have to read it or talk about it if I wasn’t ready. I went back and forth in my mind for a few minutes. Then I told her I wanted to read it. I told her I didn’t want to be afraid of speaking for the rest of my life. I needed to start somewhere. We went over a plan to keep safe in case I started to dissociate or it got to be too much. Then I took a deep breath and started reading.

Dear father,

I have trouble just calling you father. Fathers are supposed to love their daughters. You never showed me love. You never hugged me or showed me that you cared. You only showed me disdain. How could you let me suffer for so long? I was hurting, and instead of making me better, you only added to my pain.

You and my mother should have never had children. Neither of you know how to be a parent. You brought me into this world to torture me. I don’t understand why you and she just didn’t drop me off in a ditch somewhere. Sometimes I think that I would have been better off if one of you just killed me. You would have saved me a lot of pain. But you couldn’t even do that. Instead, you killed my spirit. You made me dead on the inside.

It scares me that I can’t remember everything you did to me. I know that if I asked you, you would never admit to anything anyway. You and my mother choose to live in your own made-up world where everything is perfect and you are perfect. That is nowhere near reality. There is no way that you didn’t know what my mother was doing to me all those years. I have memories of you being there with her, but I told myself they couldn’t be real. How could you? You are no better than she is.

You’ve broken me, but none of that hurt more than that night you broke my spirit. Instead of being concerned about why I was feeling sad and depressed, you took all of your anger and hatred out on me. You told me I had nothing to be depressed about. Nothing to be depressed about? How could I NOT be depressed? I had every reason to be sad, to be angry, and to be depressed. But you told me you were going to give me something to be sad about, and you did. You broke me. The only way I could make you stop was to not feel at all. You made me believe that feelings meant pain, and I didn’t need any more pain.

I’ll never forget that night. I still cringe when anyone says I’m depressed because it reminds me of what you did to me. You taught me that feeling anything is a punishable offense. But you got your way. I wasn’t sad or depressed anymore. I couldn’t feel anything. I lived for years without feeling anything. It was the only way I knew how to survive.

Even after all of the shit you put me through, I dropped everything to take care of you when you got sick. Your wife didn’t care whether or not you died. But why? You would have never done the same for me. I still had hope that you would be a father, that you would see what a good daughter I was, that you would be proud. But you weren’t. I held out hope for something that would never be. But I know now that it is not my doing; it’s yours. You’ll never know what love is. You should have died years ago.

Now that you’re sick, I’m not sorry at all. I actually find it a little funny that your heart has been slowly dying all these years – I would have never known you had a heart. My heart may still be beating, but you broke it long ago. And now yours is broken, literally broken. At least my heart can be fixed with time. You’re shit out of luck.

I hope when you finally die, that it’s painful for you. Maybe you would feel just a fraction of the pain you caused me. You’re lucky in a way. You’ll die soon and you’ll no longer have to live with what you’ve done, as if you let it affect you anyway. Your pain will end while I will have to live with mine.

All I ever wanted was for you to love me. I never did anything wrong. I never deserved the pain you caused me. I did everything a daughter was supposed to do and more. It was never enough for you. I hate you now, and it bothers me to hate another human being. But you deserve my hate. You deserve my anger. You don’t deserve to be my father.

Thank you for showing me everything I never want to be.

Through tears and with shaking hands, I managed to read the entire letter out loud. By the end, I couldn’t stop crying. It was the first time I allowed myself to show my emotions to my therapist. As I folded the letter and looked up, I saw the sadness on my therapist’s face. Part of me felt bad. I’ve upset her. I knew this letter was horrible. I apologized, but there was nothing for me to be sorry for. There was nothing in that letter to be sorry for. Neither of our feelings were anything to be sorry for.

My therapist reminded me that all of my feelings were valid, but I had drifted back into my childhood beliefs that feelings were not allowed. I told her it was wrong not to love your parents. I’ve always felt intense shame and guilt for hating them, especially in childhood, when society seemed to push the idea that all parents must be loved and honored (an idea I still see presented way too often). My therapist told me I had every reason to be sad, and that I had every reason to be angry at him. She told me she was angry at him, too. And she doesn’t even know him. It was relieving to know that someone else was feeling what I felt towards him. It sort of pushed me out of that child-like state and back to my adult self.

I’ll never be able to get that validation from my father. Even in the extremely small chance he would ever provide it, I can never see him or my mother again. It will never be safe for me to go back. He’ll never know how I really feel. Maybe it’s better that way.

5 thoughts on “A Letter to My Father

  1. I, too, had to write a letter to my abuser, Toughest task I’ve ever been given. I didn’t want to read it aloud, but my therapist did and as she read, my tears flowed uncontrollably. But at the conclusion of the reading, I could do nothing but sigh in exhale. It was over. I had to let him go. I hope you find peace. You will rise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish he would read that letter and realize what he’d done. I wish he’d be tortured by the regret and shame over the way he’d behave. I wish he’d confess and cry and tell others, wishing for forgiveness, but everyone would look at him with horror and disgust.

    Liked by 1 person

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