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Letter 2: Your Parents – Dad

August 2nd, 2010

Dear Dad,

I’m not entirely sure what to say to you.  The more I think about it, the more I realize you weren’t really around all that much.  One of the downers of being the daughter of a rapidly-promoted military man, I suppose.

I don’t really know you.  I’m not sure if that was on purpose or just sort of happened.  Maybe it was a product of your environment.

You keep a lot of secrets.  You’re one of the most private people I know.  And you tried to make me that way with all your, “Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.”s and your, “Get your game face on.”s and your, “Never let them see what you’re thinking.”s and your, “Walk it off.”s.  But ya know… I’m not really fond of secrets.  I’m less fond of your secrets. 

I’d really like to know the reason you gave Mom for leaving her.  Not for any other reason than I don’t.  She won’t talk about it with me, and you avoid the subject of her like the plague.  And I guess that’s your right.  I just… would like to know.

I remember a lot from my childhood, but what bothers me is what I don’t remember.  I have very few happy memories of us.  Very few happy memories of my childhood.  Mostly what I remember is being in trouble.  And looking back, some of the things I got in trouble for were pathetically stupid.

I don’t know when our relationship ceased being a relationship.  I don’t know when I stopped wanting to know who you really are.

What I do know is that I really wish you’d have listened to me in sixth grade.  I wish you’d have actually considered, for a second, the possibility that I wasn’t lying to you, instead of assuming that a teacher wouldn’t.  I mean, really… Does it make sense that I was asked to be hall monitor, won student of the month out of the entire school more than once, was asked to volunteer in the library, was always asked to monitor lower grade classrooms while teachers stepped out for a minute, but my behavior was bad enough to warrant a failing grade in conduct? Really?!

I’m pretty sure that’s when I lost all respect for you.

I’ve always wondered how someone who so quickly progressed in his career, got multiple awards for his problem solving skills and attention to detail, could be so utterly clueless when it came to his daughter.  You’d think that would be one of the places he was most proficient in his information gathering and problem solving.

Or maybe you knew and intentionally stuck your head in the sand.

Or maybe… Everything around you is “Or maybe…”

Going to Disney with you was like going with a mostly invisible stranger.  I suppose we didn’t make it easy, always rushing off to do our own thing.  But when we did try to get you to do things with us, unless it involved food, you weren’t really interested.  I asked Mom a hundred times.  She said, “That’s just Dad.  He’s always been that way.”

I have to admit, the first thought that came to mind when AD and S announced their separation was, “I wonder if Dad feels like an idiot now.”  I can’t believe you favored AD over M.  I can’t figure out why, either.

I don’t know why you did any of the things you did.  I don’t know why you treat S and me so differently.  Even to this day, while she’s siding with Mom, and cursing your name, you call her more than me.  You visit her more than me.  You do more for her (or did) than you do for me.  And until Disney, when you were on the phone with S almost every day, I had mostly managed to ignore it.

I’m tired of ignoring it.

Sometimes I think to myself, “Self, you were a self-righteous bitch in your teen years.  You caused a lot of trouble.  Probably Dad’s behavior toward you is a product of that.”  And then I remember that you always treated S and me different.  From the day she was born.  And that probably, at least part of my behavior was in reaction to that.

Which came first, Dad? The chicken or the egg? And does it really matter? They clearly both exist.

And I was a kid.  You claimed you were a grown up.

I still don’t know where you were when I got married.  Or why you didn’t come.  And I’m finding that I care less and less.

I forgive you.  Grudgingly, but it’s time for me to let go, and I’m not sure I can do that without offering you my forgiveness.

I used to think I’d never be able to.  Because you’d never admit to my perception of my past.  But I realized I don’t need you to admit to it to forgive you.  Forgiveness isn’t about that.  It isn’t about my being right, or you feeling better about your role in my childhood, or anything like that.  Forgiveness is about me letting go.  About me saying, “Yeah, that sucked, but I’m over it now.”  So I forgive you.

Catch ya on the flip side,

  1. Dinora3228
    August 2nd, 2010 at 19:15 | #1

    I read your letter to your Mom, and then this one. I am left feeling like giving supportive comments, and advice. I’m left feeling comtemplative, but with no concrete thoughts. I’m left feeling like saying something, but hiding in silence.

    I’ve been sitting here for twenty minutes trying to think of something supportive to finish off with. I hope a hug will suffice. {{{hug}}}


  2. January 11th, 2011 at 22:32 | #2

    @Dinora3228 I didn’t mean to ignore your comment when you left it. I was in a weird place when I wrote this, so maybe that’s it. In any case, thank you so much for your support. I can’t say what it meant to me then, or what it means to me now. 🙂

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