note: this is one of many letters I’ve tried writing to my biological father.
I keep pausing as I write this letter, because I don’t know where to start. I don’t know whether to start at the beginning, or to talk about the last few years. I’m not really surprised by my inability to find the right words. What can I say to you that you don’t already know? That I hate you? That I’m so angry at you? That a part of me still cares about you?
The first memory of my life is of you slapping me across the face. Do you remember that? I was 3 years old, and you slapped me across the face. My sister never had to experience the dangerous violence within you, but my mother and I did. I know about the time you ripped the phone out of the wall so that my mother couldn’t call for help. The police officer that helped my mom after you became too unstable to be trusted was my childhood friend’s father. I was 3 Charlie. Life should have been about wonder and excitement, but you plunged me down into a darkness that still hurts me to this day.
Did you know that? Did you realize as you bounced me on your knee to try to quiet my crying, that in that instant you had changed my life? I didn’t know it either…but I did change after that. I became angry…I was filled with such hurt, and confusion, and anger, and it was too much. Did you know that Mommy would sit down with me on the floor, and let me beat on her legs because she was afraid that I would hurt myself? I would hit the halls Charlie, hit the walls, and doors, and the floor, and scream and cry and I couldn’t understand why Charlie. I couldn’t understand this coldness that had welled up inside of me where warmth had lived. After a while I just locked it all away. Mommy sent me to see a shrink, when at age 7 I was still so angry.
I was angry because you were supposed to protect me. I was angry because you tossed me aside like a piece of trash. Your family tossed me aside as well, and all of a sudden everything that I knew was gone. You, Margaret…my sister…I don’t think I could ever forgive you for that day when you left me standing in my mother’s driveway, and took my sister with you. I know she is only my half-sister, but she was the one who I looked up too. Did you know that I brush my teeth the same way she does? I learned from watching her. I wanted to be like her, because she was the coolest person I knew. She didn’t push me away. Not like you did…at least, back then she didn’t.
What I could never understand, Charlie, was what was so terribly wrong with me, that it was okay to hurt me like that. I just wanted you in my life Charlie. I wanted my “Daddy” and you threw me away because loving a 3-year-old girl wasn’t something you felt like doing.
It’s funny…well ironic actually. A kid is supposed to learn love from his/her parents. I learned love from Mommy…but from you, I learned hatred. God, I can’t even begin to describe the rage I feel when I think about you. When I think about how you even dared to sleep with my mother, but you weren’t man enough to handle the responsibilities. You aren’t a man. You have a son named after you and he’s saving up to change that so your name will die with you. I’ve taken my grandmother’s last name, because the idea of being related to you, or to the majority of your family, disgusts me.
Except for Uncle Doug and my cousins. I love them more than I could tell you. I knew I loved them the minute I met them; they had been saved from the shallowness, and cruelty, that seems to lie in the wake of the majority of the adults on your side of the family. Do you remember when I met them? It was after you forbade me from going to my grandfather’s funeral. Remember what you said?
“She didn’t want to be in his life before he died so she doesn’t deserve to be there.”
I wanted to know Pop-pop. Mommy spoke so highly of him. Mommy loved him very much, and I grew up loving the idea of him because I couldn’t find him. I couldn’t find him because of you. We asked you Charlie…Mommy did. The last time she saw you at the courthouse…..she asked you where he was and you didn’t tell her. You said you didn’t know. He died before I could tell him that I loved him, and it was your fault. You knew where he was and you lied. Mommy tried to find him, we all did…and you wouldn’t let me say goodbye.
I wanted you in my life for so long Charlie…and then I began wishing you were dead. Do you know what that does to a kid? To wish that their own father was dead? I would daydream about the day I met you again. Every time I just think about hitting you until you feel the pain you put me through for 20 years. The sick feeling that fills me every time I think of you; I wanted to beat it back into you where it belongs. Where it started. You are poison…
But I can’t do this…not right now. I have so much hatred, and rage, and disgust for you and I can’t live with it today. I’m too tired. It hurts too much…you hurt too much. I have so much I want to say to you and I have to get it right because once I do it, you will cease to exist for me, which means I’ll probably never even send this letter. You don’t deserve it. But I will try again to get this all out. But today I want to smile, not think about the darkness you create in my life, because you don’t deserve my tears today.