Dear Dad

I know you’re reading this because mom told me you check this site every morning. I have always found writing to be easier than speaking, and there are a lot of things I’ve wanted to say to you. I wrote this, not expecting things to change between us, but so that I can finally let go of my resentments.

I have carried a lot of hurt and anger because of you – towards myself and you – and I have always felt like I’m a terrible daughter for doing so. You cared for my physical needs in abudance but left my emotional needs with a huge defecit. I craved to be told I was beautiful and talented by you, to have a heart connection with you, and to find security and stability in you. Instead, I was told I was fat and given endless examples of how I wasn’t good enough, we argued over big and small issues with little resolution, and I never knew when you were going to switch from calm to angry.

Looking back, I really believe I was made to be a daddy’s girl. I naturally clung to you, deeply valued your opinion and thoughts, and honestly wanted to know you as a person. I think that’s why it hurt so deeply when you pushed me away, criticized my dreams, pointed out my faults, and put a wall up between us. I wanted us to share stories of our lives together, not just the books I checked out from the library. I wanted us to hold plans for the future together, not just hands as I crossed the street. I wanted you to protect me from the scary things in life, not become one of the monsters I feared the most.

I wasted a lot of time trying to predict your mood swings, thinking if I could figure out the formula I could make our home peaceful instead of the minefield it felt like. At the age of seven I took it upon myself to protect my mom and sister from your verbal attacks, thinking I could save them from the sting of your words. We were, and are, all high feelers – meaning we are affected by more than just words. We can pick up the tensions and moods of a room, a movie, or a song. We can feel a depth to words that includes both intent and meaning, and filling the rooms in our hearts, rather than bouncing off of us.

I didn’t know how to articulate myself then, to express my deepest needs and desires. I didn’t know how to say, “I want less ‘you’ and more ‘us.'” I wanted more memories of smashing sleeves of saltines for your late night snacks, going to the library for new books every Saturday, walking through the zoo and making sure we saw elephants and hippos, and swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. I wanted fewer fights, fewer threats, and fewer tears.

I don’t know if I told you, but my first semester at college I tried saltines and milk; I thought it was gross. I also got counseling when I was in college. I had spent so many years stuffing my feelings down, trying to be tough like you, all in hopes you would want to spend more time with me. I honestly thought I had let you down by being born a girl instead of a boy, too. I tried so hard to make you proud of me, and I fought so much for you to respect me. I blamed myself for failing so much of the time.

I’ve spent a lot of time receiving counseling and inner healing, unraveling my pain from the facts of my past. I’ve forgiven you for a lot, but not for everything. I’m working on it. I’ll get there.
I wrestled with whether to post this or not, afraid of what you might say or think and afraid to hurt mom all over again. This isn’t about pointing fingers or pushing blame; It’s about being honestly transparent. I’m over pretending I’m ok, hiding how I really feel, and lying to myself that it wasn’t that bad. I want others to feel safe to share the broken and messy parts of their lives with me, but I know that level of honesty starts with me. And my biggest, deepest wounds come from the brokenness in our relationship.

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