Every year for over a decade, I have hated Father's Day. In the time you have been absent from my life, I have become a mother, a wife and a woman. All those milestones came absent of parents, but really they came without you.
You did not stand by my side through the ups or downs, through the heartbreaks and the broken friendships, through the achievements or the projects I created.
You left me instead in a deep dark cave, knowing quite well I might not survive it. You left me with an abusive parent who robbed me of my childhood and then hurt me nearly beyond repair in my teen years. And when I called to question you, to wonder where you were, I was left screaming into a voice mail system about my broken heart.
When I was a little girl, I thought my dad was a hero. I thought he was brave, strong, funny, and loving.
I thought you were my friend.
In middle school, I thought my dad was cool.
You would bring me out late, we would hang with bikers' at coffee shops and pubs.
We would attend concerts and I would sketch these famous old musicians from your time, gifting them my art on a napkin. Art that you encouraged out of me, when you saw my potential at 8 and paid for me to take adult charcoal lessons.
You encouraged my talents and told me it could be something. I could be something. And I believed you.
When I lived with you at 12, I thought I was finally saved. Although I was placed in your care by the system, I felt like finally I would be protected. Not knowing you were addicted, or how ill you actually were.
Most of the time I was given the "fun tasks" of doing the laundry, doing the grocery shopping, doing the cooking, doing the cleaning, giving you advice about life and your job. And in exchange I got to wear whatever I wanted to, dyed my hair many colors, and took off on the bus or train whenever I felt like it.
I got to spread my wings, as a baby bird just learning how to fly.
When I was forced back home it changed you.
In fact, I think it broke you.
You let it push you into a sea of addictions. I did not know that years of parenting were spent just wading the waters, with your yearning to drown.
All I could be thankful for was that you let go of my hand before you jumped.
I never dreamed of the day you would walk me down the isle or hold my first child. I never pictured what my life would look like if you waited anxiously at the door with a scowl for my prom date, your eyebrows saying "be back at 11 sharp".
I called you Charlie most of my life and when you left it felt like a severed friendship. It felt that way because you did not act like a parent. Your childlike behaviors and insecure voice, always asking if I loved you and why. Letting me take the role of a maid and a partner, drawing boundary lines with invisible ink because you did not know them yourself.
It was there all along, the evidence I needed to realize what was unhealthy and abnormal in our relationship. But none of the adults in our family pointed it out then. No one stuck their nose in any business until it was too late. Until you were gone.
The problem areas in a little girls' life. The troubles I had faced and the things I had witnessed, that people around me accepted as "normal".
Getting jealous and angry, enough to kill me, over another man....no, a boy.
Hiding spices and herbs, amongst drugs and needles in the cupboard from your late night exchanges with leather jacket vipers, and women of the night.
Asking what moves you should make with women, seeking approval and validation for deep depression, anxiety and hallucinations. Taking and not giving, emptying and never refilling.
Questioning but never answering. Melting away bonds and dissolving friendships, until even looking in the mirror was too much to stomach and slipping into nothing felt best.
Depression. Anxiety. Schizophrenia. Bipolar. Manic. Suicidal. Multi-personality. Unstable. Organ failures. Overdoses. Memory lapse. Delusional.
The final answer.
8 years too late to fix anything, over a decade of damage already done.
All the drafted letters, all the self exploration and steps to "healing" have left my ability to understand falling flat.
I am empathetic, I am caring to a fault, I am accepting of abuses and nourishing my soul with shattered pieces because the man who was supposed to be my first example of love and trust was a broken adult with a childlike mind and a diseased heart.
Time and time I have tried to reason with myself. Because answers from you are illogical, irrational, irate, poisonous. Asking a broken record to add to its' track is impossible.
I cannot put a date or sign on the dotted line that I vow to stop understanding. Somewhere between sickness and health lies the truth.
Instead, I hold this stash of envelopes all dated and stamped. I fan through the edges with my fingertips and I trace the old strings, bound tightly around many failed attempts to be seen and heard. To be wanted. To be loved.
These documents are kept in the one place they cannot be destroyed, whether I want to or not. I keep them in an old box, hidden in a corner of an old dusty closet protected by an ancient skeleton key hanging on a tattered ribbon.
A velvet purple ribbon bound around my most vital organ, accessible only in my darkest hours when the pain is too much to endure.
A place locked in my mind I only have gone on the hardest days of my life, if only just to cry in a place where no one can hear my calls.
It would be unfair of me to tell a broken man, with a battered body, and a desecrated mind that I am demanding an explanation that died with another soul, lost too soon in a long lost family.
It would be illogical for me to ask you to turn back time, to the first beckoning call of a numbing solution.
To pinpoint the exact moment you did not even know you were going to become a failed father figure for the rest of your life, after losing your own.
For too long I have avoided this letter, to this man who is supposed to be all knowing. And I've played phone tag or message stabs with a shadow of the hero I once created in my mind.
Father's Day has marked the passing of two men in my life passing, one I never got to know and one I severed ties with indefinitely. To say it is unfair is true, but I never felt brave enough to speak the words until now.
I no longer care if anyone excuses trauma as daddy issues.
I no longer care for family with false opinions, all orchestrated by a twisted and sick Puppet Master.
I no longer care for the "could have had it worse", "at least he did not touch you", "I don't remember him like that", "everyone has daddy problems", "move on, there is nothing you can do", "at least you are not crazy", "You are better on your own" remedies people blurt out, with full intent of shutting a book for me instead of letting me get to the end on my own.
So what do I do now?
I live. I live, Charlie, in a world without a father. In a world where only the future matters and I can be whoever I want to be, living with those truths and that ribbon still wrapped around my heart.
I sign a eulogy as my final letter. As closure to end almost 3 decades of agony and despair. And I let it be the last envelope I ever seal.
A goodbye from a woman too old and too tired to write anymore.
Published by Jean Soto JS Jaded Savior blog: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jean Soto, mother of 3 and wife, is a writer + artist in the Hudson Valley, NY community.
Content mention of Rape, Abuse, Neglect, Addictions, Mental Illness, Kidnap, Molestation, Child abuse, Teen Pregnancy, Abortion, birth, body image, gender/identity dysphoria, sexuality, personal trauma, domestic violence and other extremely personal stories. Please practice caution. I am not a licensed physician or mental health professional. No medical prescribing is provided on this site, Only personal insights, experience stories, and advice; All stories published have had prior authorization. Questions? Contact Jean at: email@example.com
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