Dear Dad

A while ago I posted an open letter to my dad. While those feelings are still very much there and still valid, I’ve recently written an actual letter to my father. It’s a letter that I wrote with complete honesty and raw emotions. I cried multiple times throughout writing it. I cried because it hurt, because I was admitting something difficult. I cried because it was my way to release those feelings and emotions. It was my way of coming to terms with my father. The letter is finished…I wrote it in one night. I’m waiting on sending it because I think that there are a few more things that I want to add. But until then, I’m going to post it on here. It’s extremely personal and its 100% real.

Dear dad,

I’m not quite sure where to start because there’s so much that I want to say to you. Things that I’ve told you countless times, that seem to have gone in one ear and out the other, as well as things that I’ve never voiced to you but I’ve wanted to so many times. The point of me writing this isn’t to be mean or nasty, but instead to be able to really tell you how I feel…how you’ve made me feel over the years. It’s a chance for me to not be interrupted by you, because you do interrupt me just as much as us four kids interrupt you. It’s a chance for me to finally stand up for myself against my father. This will most likely be a lengthy letter, but I promise that it’s worth it and I also hope that you read it from start to finish.

Let me start by saying that the idea of writing a letter like this came to me just last night. I don’t really know when you’ll be receiving this letter, but I’m writing it on November 25, 2014. Yesterday, Beth had called Kaitlin to find out if she had thought about throwing a baby shower for Reva. That’s what the conversation started out as…and then Kaitlin told them that she was engaged…and to tell me that she was engaged. She didn’t even have the decency to tell me that she was engaged…and that hurt. It truly hurt me that even though we haven’t really talked since Fathers Day weekend (we were fine at Lindsey’s wedding though), she didn’t feel like sharing the news with her sister. She’d rather tell the O’Mara’s before she told me…the O’Mara’s of all people who have treated us like shit for years and years. I was hurt. I’ll admit that I sent her a pretty snarky Facebook message. I told her what I had just told you…I was hurt that she didn’t tell me. And her response all but confirmed what I’ve felt for many years now. Certain people in our family just do not care about me. Yet even though I’ve voiced my thoughts to you countless times, you’ve always told me I just thought that everyone was out to get me. Turns out that I was right in the end.

“I don’t like you. I don’t like talking to you why would I try to get ahold of you to tell you something that I don’t honestly care if you are apart of. We aren’t friends and I don’t much care for you or your attitude.”

That response hurt. Now I’m not trying to put you in the middle of our sister drama…I’m just letting you know just what made me decide to write this letter. My sister doesn’t care about me…and for what reason? I’m not sure.

For years I’ve struggled with my relationship with you. I’ll probably always struggle with my relationship with you, even after I finish typing this letter. The reason is even if I do come to terms with my relationship or really my lack of relationship with you, I’ll always want a relationship with my father for some stupid reason. Because what you and the rest of our family don’t understand is that I care. I care so, so much for the people I love. I’m not that tough bitch that you and everyone else in our family see’s me as. If you really paid attention and observed me, you’d realize that it’s just a mask. I’ve worn a mask all of these years, pretending like all these things didn’t hurt me.

One of the best memories I have of you and I was when I was young. And I mean young as in I was three years old. It’s slightly ironic that it’s one of the best memories I have of you, because it was around the time when I had my surgery. I had to have an MRI one day, but I was young…I was scared. I didn’t want to be inside that big and loud machine by myself. But you stayed in the room with me at the end of the machine and made sure that I knew that I wasn’t alone. That day you were my hero…just like every little girl hopes her dad will be. But that was eighteen years ago and I don’t know where that little girls hero went…or if he’ll ever show up again. I just want you to know that at some point in my life I did think the world of you.

If I’m going to be completely honest in what I write to you, I’d have to say that I started pretending that everything was okay shortly after mom passed away. It shouldn’t come as a big shock that her passing had really messed with me…as it did with everyone else. But I think that that’s where my ‘tough bitch’ exterior started to take place. That’s also when life began to fall apart for me. It’s still etched in my mind when we were in Indiana visiting Heidi, and you called me a ‘fucking bitch’ because I didn’t want to leave the house…because I was tired. But if my memory serves me correctly…you just wanted some ass and so you wanted all of us kid to leave. What a great way to treat your daughter. It’s also forever pressed in my memory when you kicked all four of us kids out the house on Heather St. You kicked your own kids out, who were all underage, and told us that you didn’t want us anymore. Thankfully we had grandma come and pick us up and we stayed with her and grandpa for a while. That hurts though…still hurts. You might be thinking ‘just let it go…it happened years ago’ but it’s incidents like that that are difficult to let go. It’s just another thing that helped shape me into the person I am today…and when I started to realize that you truly terrified me sometimes. Remember that one time you threw a 2×4 at my head? Yeah that made me even more terrified of you. Or when you whipped me with your belt? That doesn’t help either. You’re unpredictable dad, and once I fully realized that, it made me scared to talk to you because I never knew how you’d react. If I thought that you’d be mad…you wouldn’t be. If I thought that you wouldn’t be that upset…you’d end up being livid.

A month or so ago, Ken and the girls were having an argument over Olivia lying and the girls not picking up after themselves. He was yelling at the girls, they were crying, and a plate was broken. I was upstairs after it had all calmed down and the three of us were talking. Apparently the plate was broken on accident as Ken was just trying to toss it into the sink and it hit the edge of the counter. Without missing a beat, I told them that at least it wasn’t a piece of wood being chucked at your head. I laughed. I effing laughed at the memory of you throwing a piece of wood at my head… All because the carpet wouldn’t stay up after the basement had flooded. I brushed off the clear violence you showed me that day and laughed. Violence in the household is no big deal to me anymore because I saw it all the time with you. To me it’s pretty much the norm. That’s fucked up…but that’s also just another consequence of being raised by a person like you. It makes me scared to think that some day I could be in a relationship where he turns abusive towards me and I’ll just think it’s fine because my dad was the same way. That’s sad…and I have you to thank for that.

Now I’m not saying that I didn’t push your buttons and test your limits sometimes, because I know that I did. That’s one thing I’ve made leaps and bounds on…accepting and admitting my responsibility in things. Something that I truly believe I do better than you. But even though I was a teenager and pushed your buttons doesn’t mean that I should learn to be afraid of my own flesh and blood. You have this control over me though. I thought that once I moved away from home that I’d be free from your control, but I was wrong. Even now when I’m five hours away from you, you still manage to control me.

Now here is where my anger is going to shine through…here is where it may seem like I’m trying to be mean and nasty. But this is what pent up anger does to me. This is my chance to really tell you how I feel and maybe you’ll feel maybe just an ounce of the hurt, anger, and frustration that I’ve felt.

You still treat me like I’m a child and to be blunt about it: I don’t like it. I hate it…I absolutely hate it and hate you for it. You have absolutely no right to treat me like a child now when you weren’t even there when I was an actual child. After mom passed away, you were always gone. Whether it be gone visiting Heidi, whatever the other lady’s name was after Heidi, or you were away for work…you were always gone. You left your four vulnerable children home alone while you did whatever the hell you did. You left Michael in charge of his three younger sisters. You simply were not there. Sure you made sure that there was food in the house and that the bills were paid, but that’s about it. You were pretty much an absent father. And I get it…you had to work to provide for us. But what about when you weren’t working? You were still gone. You left us. You didn’t discipline us or parent us because you weren’t there when it was needed. When you were home though you definitely took it upon yourself to discipline us…though it was absolutely pointless. Why would I listen to someone tell me what to do when they were hardly around anyways? I was in fifth grade and I had so much freedom because you weren’t there. Hell…Michael was in his own little world too. Were you aware that when you were gone, your oldest son would have ‘get togethers’ and I would go around and collect people’s keys so that they wouldn’t drive drunk? At ten years old I was responsible enough to make sure that no one drove drunk. Where were you though? Clearly not there. Did you know that the first time I got drunk I was also in fifth grade? Probably not. Someone spike the Kool-Aid and I was definitely not aware of it. So you have no right to treat me like I’m a little kid anymore because you clearly didn’t treat me like a little kid when I was an actual child. It seems as if your thought process was ‘out of sight, out of mind’ when if came to your kids.

That wasn’t the only time in my life that you left us alone for extended periods of time though. Let’s go back a few years to when you finally met Carol. Michael and Kaitlin were out of the house by now, which left Madison and myself. I was just turning sixteen when you two first met. At first it was fine…we were all happy for you. We thought that maybe this is what you needed to become a better person…a happier person. You were still working for Saverino at this time and always doing food shows. But as time went on, you spent more and more time down in Morton, Illinois. You always denied it when it was brought to your attention though. The response from you was always the same. “We split our weekends evenly between here and Morton”. Lies. Fucking bullshit and you knew it. Here’s how most weeks would go for you (and Madison and I):

You would be gone for a food show for almost a week.

Then you’d go to Morton for the weekend to visit Carol and her daughters.
After that you’d come home on Sunday or Monday only to have to leave for another food show in two days, which would typically last more than a day or two.

And repeat that all over again.

Every once in a while Carol would come up to Grand Rapids, but those weekends were far and very few in between. And when you were home those rare weekends, it was total foreign concepts to me to have a parent actually parent me and punish me…tell me what to do. That’s where we clashed the most. You gave me all of this freedom while you were away…only to rip it out of my hands when you were home. Whether you meant to or not, your actions made me feel abandoned and alone. Here I am, sixteen years old and taking care of my younger sister when I should be able to be a kid myself. I had so much freedom while you were away. I was in charge of when I went to bed. I was in charge of what time I came home at night when Madison was at a friend’s house. I was in charge of where I went and whom I went with. I was in charge of making sure Madison was up in the morning. I was the one who made sure that she ate. I was the one to make sure she got to and from school every day. I was in charge of myself. I was in charge of everything while you were away living a happy and fairytale life with Carol. No kid should have that kind of responsibility though. A kid should be just that…a kid…a teenager. But I didn’t get that chance because you were off chasing a magical fairytale life with your picture perfect family that you never had. You abandoned me and I will never forgive or forget you for that.

You completely missed your chance to treat me like a child when I was an actual child. And now you want to treat me like a little kid when I’m past that age where it was acceptable? What give you the right? You have no right. You’re delusional if you think that you do. I have made my own decisions for a long, long time now…long before I turned eighteen. But when I turned eighteen is when you thought that it’d be an appropriate time to treat me like a child. Are you stupid? Honestly…what is your thought process?

For a while I thought that it was because you didn’t want to let go of me, but that’s not it. It’s because you crave control. You cannot control Michael anymore because he has his own life and doesn’t depend on you for anything anymore. You don’t control Kaitlin anymore even though she’s still under your health insurance. But Kaitlin has always been your favorite, your golden child, all these years so she can never do anything wrong even when she does. And then there’s me. You still pay for my phone, I’m still on your health insurance, and you paid for the majority of my car. That’s where you get your control. If I don’t make a decision that is really just a decision that you made, you get mad. When I made the choice to move from Morton to Michigan you ignored me that entire summer. When I tried to make an effort to talk to you, you got pissy with me. You were mad because I made a decision that you didn’t make for me. I took it upon myself to make a decision for myself. Every decision that I make is a decision that you don’t agree with and have to argue with me over. It’s a volatile back and forth game that will never stop as long as you still provide those three things for me. Now, though it’s only two things since you suspended my phone. And I can’t even get my own line because you still technically own my number as well as my phone. But you knew that, didn’t you, when you made the decision to suspend my phone rather than deactivate it like you originally said? Because that still leaves you with a least a little control and that control makes you feel powerful…makes you feel like a man, doesn’t it? You simply cannot let me live my life. You’re somehow always there to bring me down just when I feel like I’ve made some progress.

But you care about me, you say! You always say that you love me! Well where is the proof in those statements? Unlike verbally telling me that you don’t care about me like your oldest daughter, you tell me in your actions. Instead of checking up on me from time-to-time, you wanted Amy to relay information about me back to you. You wanted your friend and my employer to spy on me because why? Because you couldn’t pick up the phone and call your daughter and simply ask how life is going? Why was it so difficult for you to do that? That just goes to show that you really do not care about me. You lie to yourself and say that you do, but you don’t. Be honest with yourself for once. If you would have picked up the phone and called me this past summer, maybe I would have willingly told you that I was pregnant instead of being all but forced to tell you after the fact…after I made a terribly hard decision to have an abortion. Even after I told you that I had an abortion though, all you had to say was that you weren’t surprised and that you were disappointed in me. Wow that truly shows me that you care. Never once did you ask me if I was okay…physically or emotionally. What kind of father does that? A father who clearly doesn’t care. Because if you truly cared about me, then you wouldn’t have said those things right off the bat, you wouldn’t have gotten mad at me and everyone else who knew because they didn’t tell you. Maybe if you hadn’t instilled fear in me when I was younger, I would have been more likely to tell you. If you had cared about me then you would have been there for me when I needed a parent the most. You would have listened to me and asked if I was okay. You would have asked how I was doing after everything was said and done. You would have checked up on me to make sure that I was still doing okay. And even when I would say that I was okay, you would know that deep down I wasn’t okay. That is what you should have done if you truly cared. But you didn’t and there’s nothing that I can do about it now. It’s just another nail in the coffin that is my relationship with my father.

Let’s also talk about you threatening to take away my health insurance because I cannot afford to pay you almost five hundred dollars a month. Are you insane? You expect me to have that kind of money when you yourself don’t even have it? And you want to take away my health insurance…the one thing that I need most out of the three things you provide for me? You really are an upstanding father… In case you have some how forgotten, I have extremely great chances to end up like mom if I don’t have any health insurance. Are you really sure that you want to up my chances of that happening by taking away my insurance? If you truly do, then you’re a heartless douche bag who truly doesn’t care about his daughter. If you do decide to do that, then you’re completely dead to me. You will no longer exist in my life…ever. The children that I do someday have will never know about the disappointment of a father that you were to me. They will never know about you because I don’t want to spoil their minds with thoughts and memories of you. Are you really sure that you want to lose your daughter forever, because that will happen if you do this.

You have greatly impacted my life more than you can ever know. I’ve grown up thinking that it’s not acceptable to be myself and that I had to hide who I truly was. Because of you I have gotten so amazingly good at pretending that I’m okay and that every thing is okay, when in reality it’s not. I’ve gotten so good at pretending to brush everything off my shoulders like it isn’t a big deal, when deep down it kills me. On the outside I look fine and well, but on the inside, deep inside I’m slowly dying. It’s because of you that I have this hard exterior when deep down all I want is to love and be loved. You are the reason why I have ‘daddy issues’ and trust issues. I don’t trust men because you were never there to be a trustworthy man. I seek affection in men that I hardly know because I never got that affection from my own family. I’m just a shell of a person who hardly exists anymore and you are responsible for the majority of that.

Last night I was talking to Kate and she asked me if I was okay. No one has asked me if I was okay in the longest time. When I asked her if she wanted the honest answer, she said that she in fact did, and I decided to be raw, honest, and real with her as well as myself. Here’s what I told her: “Honestly I’m not okay. I pretend like no other that I’m okay. And sometimes I believe myself. But then shit like this happens and then I’m reminded that I’m really not okay. My family by and large sucks. I have very strained relationships with most of my family members. And deep down I want to be close to them again, but I know that it’s not going to happen and I have to be okay with that. It just sucks that the majority of my family truly doesn’t care about me and I’m not even exaggerating. Honestly my life is a huge mess and I’m not okay…I haven’t been truly okay since I was 8…but in order for me to keep pushing though with my life I have to pretend that I’m okay. And how sad is that?”

I am shaped into who I am by various experiences throughout my life as well as my family members. I cannot change who you are. You can’t and won’t change because that’s just who you are. You and I are eerily similar in many, many ways, but there is a big and noticeable different between you and I. Where you can’t accept responsibility, I can. Where you can’t change who you are, I can. I can change myself and turn my life around into something that you could only dream of. Last night was my final breaking point with our sad and pitiful excuse of a family. We are so beyond dysfunctional that there’s nothing worth saving. You have your perfect wife with your perfect step-kids in Morton, Illinois and you couldn’t be bothered to try and salvage what family is left up here in Michigan.

I am done with being treated like shit on the bottom of your shoe time and time again. I’ve finally realized that I deserve better than that. I’m not going to be scared of you and what you might say to me anymore. I won’t take being treated like a child any longer because I know that I should be treated like an adult and I won’t accept any less. I deserve to be able to be myself without judgment from my family. I deserve to not have to wear a mask and pretend that I’m okay. I deserve to be loved and it’s definitely not coming from you or anyone else in our family. I deserve a family who will support me in my decisions, but that family isn’t going to be you. You are simply just the person who helped create my life…nothing more and nothing less. You are not included in the people who I consider my family anymore. Ken and Beth, your best friend, have been more like family to me than you could ever hope to be. You could really learn a thing or two from them.

What really sucks though, is that even as I write all of this to you, there’s still a part of me that so badly wishes that our family could go back to the way it used to. Back before mom got sick and passed away… But that’s just wishful thinking on my part. Like I said at the beginning of this letter, I will probably always struggle with this father-daughter relationship with you. It’s something that I’ve got to accept and try to move on from. I’ll always love and care about you, Kaitlin, Madison, and Michael because that’s just who I am. I care so deeply about people even when I shouldn’t. But it’s time for me to let go of the negativity that’s been in my life, and unfortunately you are a part of that negativity.

So this is me finally standing up for myself. This is me standing up for myself against you, my father. Last night I decided that I’m going go away for about six months. I’m going to move somewhere far away, somewhere peaceful, and finally work on finding my true self. I’m going to be truly selfish and focus on myself and myself only. I deserve to be happy and enjoy life without being dragged back down by my family. I have high expectations for my life and myself and it’s finally about time that I really spread my wings and make those expectations a reality. And when it does become a reality and I’m living my dream, it will be because of me and not because you helped me.

Maybe someday things will change and you’ll be a part of my life again. Because just like every little girl wants, I want my dad to be a part of my wedding and walk me down the isle. I want my dad to be involved with his eventual grandchildren’s lives. I want my dad in my life, but at this point that’s beyond wishful thinking and I’m not holding my breath for that. Just remember that this isn’t meant to be mean or nasty…just a raw and honest letter of how I’ve felt. And maybe…just maybe you’ll feel even the littlest amount of pain that I’ve felt over the past years.

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