I recently found myself watching reruns of the show ‘Tough Love’ on VH1. I had nothing better to do and it was on, so I figured why not. For those of you who haven’t seen the show or haven’t even heard of it, in short he show is basically about this renowned match-maker who takes in a group of troubled women and teaches them about what it means to truly be in a healthy relationship. Or something like that.
Each episode they have an overall lesson that will hopefully help the women participating in both their love life and I’d assume everyday life. In the episode I watched it was about reconciling with your father. The host had each girl write out a letter to their father, or father figure, to express any unresolved feelings and to talk about how they felt about their relationship with their father and how it affects their current love life.
Since I have a horrible track record with commitment, I figured I’d write my own father a letter.
Let me start out by saying how horrible it makes me feel that I have to start this letter off that way. I wish I could write ‘dear dad or daddy’. Even father would have felt better, but I can’t do that. I can’t and won’t call you those names. You are John, and that’s all you will ever be.
To me a father is someone who loves you unconditionally, who puts your best interest ahead of his regardless of how it will affect him, someone who supports you, someone who’s more than willing to remember everything there is to know about you, someone who see’s your flaws but still is more than proud to point you out in a crowd to the person standing next to him, someone who without a second doubt would put his reputation and life on the line for you. You never did those things. I’ve never once felt that you loved me. I was never your priority. You never came to any event or show I ever participated in. You don’t know or even care to know anything about me. You see my flaws and sadly that’s all. You would rather die than even motion in my direction in public. You weren’t even there when I was born, in fact, I’m pretty sure you were off in the hospital cafeteria getting food.
I hate the fact that I’ve have never seen you sober. I hate that I had to look at holes and dents in our walls because of you. I hate that every night I laid awake listening to you yell at my mom. I hate that you blamed me for the family finical problems. I hate that I’m such a disappointment and disgrace to you when I’ve done nothing but what you’ve told me to do. I hate that I’ve had to call the police on you more than once. I hate that I’ve had to leave my own home because I was scared to be there. I hate that I can’t talk to you without stuttering because I’m terrified of what you might do. I hate that I never was able to turn to you when I was afraid. I hate that I don’t know how I should and shouldn’t let a man treat me. I hate that I can’t even find it within my heart to hate you. I hate that I am just like you.
Why don’t you know my full name? Why don’t you know my birthday? Why don’t you know how old I am? Why don’t you know that I’ve had the same favorite color since I was a baby? Why don’t you know what grade I’m in? Why don’t you know my dog’s name? Why don’t you know anything about me? Why don’t you care?
I should be used to it now though, you never cared. You never wanted me.You never tried to understand me. You never showed me how to be strong and brave. You never showed me right from wrong. You never took the time to look at me. All that ever mattered to you was your drug induced high.
I don’t know how to love or be loved. I let people that shouldn’t matter walk all over me and use me. I treat people that do care and want to be close to me like shit and I don’t listen to them or respect them or even let them in. I tell myself that I’m not doing anything wrong because that’s how you treated me, that’s how you let me be treated, that’s how you treated mom and because you were my ‘dad’ that it was right and okay to act that way.
It’s not right to treat me like I wasn’t important. It’s not right for me to treat others like they’re not important. It’s not right for you to have walked all over me. It’s not right anyone to walk over me. It’s not right for me to let them. It’s not right that you blamed me for costing us money for medical bills because that left us with less money for your drugs. It’s not right that I am a loss of money for mine. It’s not right that you don’t know who I am. It’s not right that I don’t know who I am.
It would be easier to blame you for everything and for who I have become. You played a large part in my development as a person and sadly over the 16 years I spent living with you I picked up your traits and habits and even bits and pieces of your personality. I want to blame it all on you. Be done with it and move on. But I’m responsible too. I’m responsible for seeing how you treated me and letting myself treat others that way, even though I knew very well how it felt.
In some ways, me acting this way, living this life, it’s still giving you some hold on me. A hold I’ve never been able to escape. But not anymore. I’m not going to let myself become you. I’m not going to let anyone treat me the way you did, and I’m not going to treat anyone the way you did. Not anymore.
It wasn’t easy being a little girl scared in her own home, but I’m not a little girl anymore. Yes, I will always have the scars you left on my heart and I will always have to deal with the demons you helped create in my past. But I can’t carry it with my any longer if I want to move on and grow.
So this is goodbye. Goodbye to all you were and all you weren’t. Goodbye to all you said and all you should have said. Goodbye to all the missed opportunities. Goodbye to what never was.”