Saying goodbye to my father

3rd May 2015

Dear Dad,

I’ve been wanting to write you a letter for a long time & explain to you how hurt and how damaged I feel because of all the things that happened in the last three decades. I wanted to tell you how wrong & how awful you were. I wanted to vent a righteous anger at you. I was under the delusion that it would help me to move past things & it would somehow help you to see the error of your ways & then we could go back to being family.

The problem with that is twofold: First, you can’t move backwards in life, and second, we were never family. At least we weren’t the version of family I believe in. It’s kind of like fitting a square peg in a round hole, the only way to do it is to damage the peg. I refuse to be damaged any further.

They say you accept the love you feel you deserve, so in some ways this was partially my fault. More than just my actions or reactions, I apparently felt that I deserved to be treated the way I was and so I stayed & allowed it to continue. But I’ve changed my mind. I don’t deserve that at all. And you don’t deserve my continued hostility & other hurt feelings. I see only one course of action.

I doubt you’ll understand what I mean here but I have too much empathy (and sympathy) to just shut the door on you without at least some indication of why. I’m also certain through past experiences with you that if I do not spell out precisely what I want our relationship to be like you will continue to dwell in the undefined spaces.

I feel I should acknowledge that I can see your pain, your damage, and your need. I also have to acknowledge that those things have nothing to do with me. I have tried to ease your pain, heal your damage, & provide you help. None of my attempts have been met with any sort of matched effort. Which is not to say that you’ve not made attempts to include me in your world, you have. You gave me a job. You provided financially for me growing up. I choose to believe the best in you so I choose to believe that you did the best you could. Unfortunately that does not negate the harm that has been done to me. It also does nothing but strengthen my resolve to move on.

This is me doing that. And I’m sorry that I can’t be what you need me to be. No matter what I’ve tried to be you’ve made it abundantly clear that it was never enough for you. I have to let that go. I have to let it go because I need to be “enough” for myself, and for my husband, and for my daughter, and for all the other people in my life who value me. To continue to devalue myself based on your reflection of me is to do a great disservice to all those other people who love me, including myself.

I will spare you any lengthy recounting of transgressions. We would never agree on the details anyway and it would serve no purpose. I’m not trying to wound you or to change your mind. I am trying to heal myself & to embrace who I am.

I can tell you that the final straw was contacting my 17 year old daughter to try to get her to meet your needs in the same way you have always done to me. That is completely unacceptable. You may have tried to reach me and I may not have answered. Although in the honest spirit of this letter I will tell you that I had blocked your number from calling me. I did that because each time I heard from you it caused me a great deal of anguish. I was torn between wanting to help you however I could (because that is my nature) and wanting to say to you all the things I’ve been holding back. It began to cause me physical symptoms like migraines, pain, nausea, & blood pressure spikes.

What has me most upset with that phone call is that you don’t know her. You’ve never really tried. I don’t believe you feel she is family because she is not my blood relation. Maybe that isn’t true but it has felt true for me for the last 8 years. Also – she is a child, my child, and it isn’t fair to foist your problems or our strained relationship onto her. You could have called any ADULT you wanted. You could have called Pat or Jannette, any of The Boys, or even a cab or an ambulance. You’ve made it abundantly clear that everyone else comes before me. And this was no exception.

You would rather inconvenience me (your words) than any of these others who you’ve placed a higher value on .Everyone else has consistently gotten their needs me no matter how horrible they were to you but I am for some reason held to a higher standard. My attitude, ethics, and abilities have been constantly called into question by you for as long as I can recall.

Our last parting in February you told me point blank that I was not “enough”. You took no pause when I told you how dire my circumstance was. You gave me no comfort or encouragement. You gave me neither sympathy nor empathy. You chose not to acknowledge my pain. In fact you weren’t content to end the conversation until you had so utterly destroyed me that I was left hysterical & speechless. You’ve not acknowledged it since. You’ve certainly not apologized. And I don’t expect you to. I don’t think you feel you have anything to apologize for. And that’s okay. I can (and have) accepted that.

But then you still seem to feel I owe you my time, my assistance, & my gratitude for the opportunity. That is where we disagree. You have been blatantly disrespectful to myself, my husband, & my child. You’ve directed your misplaced anger at my husband on more than one occasion. You’ve caused each of us emotional distress. You’ve been harmful. You’ve been threatening. And it is misplaced & undeserved. I am unwilling to allow anymore of that.

I would love to have the things from your house that my mother promised to me but frankly I have avoided you at all costs since February because even thinking of you causes me such distress that I exhibit physical symptoms. I am done.

I do not want anything from you. Not your job (you’ll note I never filed unemployment), your money, your time, your company, or your “love”. What I want is to be left alone to heal myself.

My husband has cancer (again). My daughter has a host of psychological wounds from her biological mother. I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia which means all the pain & fatigue I’ve experienced in my life has a name. It is real. And none of those things are being helped by our continued relationship. I cannot help you anymore. If you take an honest look at it you’ll see I never could. It was never my help you wanted anyway.

I am exhausted & in pain. I am doing my absolute best to take care of me & my family. I gave you many opportunities to be part of that & it was never enough. Yesterday was the last possible line you could cross & yet I still came to your aid because I don’t want you to suffer.

Calling my daughter, who had no way to help you (she can’t drive you to the hospital or help fill out forms or pick up prescriptions) reinforced to her that she is unable to help people. It devalues her. I know you’re unaware of her feelings & thoughts but that’s no excuse. You could have called my husband, but you didn’t (I suspect because the last several interactions you’ve had with him you’ve called him an asshole & you probably thought he wouldn’t help you. You’d be wrong). Instead your actions made her feel devalued, him feel defensive (he is protective of our daughter & I, as he should be) & devalued, and me feel devalued.

Still, I came. Still I stayed, interpreted for doctors, drove you, empathized with you, took care of you & didn’t leave until your needs were met.  I’m not revelling in your pain. What I am doing is separating your pain from mine.

Please do not contact me or my husband or (especially) my daughter accept to convey the water bills (I will be happy to continue to pick up & deliver the tenants to them as well). A text message sent to me will do for that or you may deliver them to my mailbox.

I love you, Dad. I want you to be well & happy. Unfortunately I do not seem to be a part of that for you. I was trying to stay in your orbit & help where I could but it has become too toxic and so for my own well being I need to end our relationship. Perhaps at some point you will be well enough to accept this in a positive way. I doubt that is how you are reading my words now.

I’ve always been an optimist & a bit of a romantic so I have a tiny shard of hope that one day we will both be well enough to be back in each others lives in a positive way. But that time is not now. Once you are well enough in your own life & if you are able to recognize my pain (and your part in it)  & make amends for it to me as well as to my husband & my daughter, I would be open to hearing it. It would have to be from a more enlightened place than where we are now. One without hostility or blame. I’ve spent a lot of time managing your needs. This is mine. I need you to be well & to demonstrate that you understand my side of things without anger. I need to see that you value me. And if you want any sort of relationship with my husband & daughter you will need to show them the same thing. And if that can’t happen, I understand – but if it’s not a peaceful, reflective, honest communication, then it can’t be any communication at all.

I appreciate all you have done for me & all you have tried to do. I hope you can appreciate my efforts in the same way.
Take care of yourself. And be well.


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