Scratch that… I’ve never called you Dad, and I certainly do not intend to start now.
You see, Dad is not simply a name given by the fortunate male counterpart in a sexual encounter which produced a child. Dad is a title. A badge of honor. A name given to those most deserving. Dad is not a term I cast around lightly. So let’s start over…
Yes, this is not your real name either, but for stories sake, it will serve the purpose well enough.
It’s ironic, despite everything you have done to me, here I am, still protecting you from the horrendous judgment that others will surely cast upon you after learning what you did to us.
But judging you is not what I’m here for. It never was about judgment. But this time, it’s not about you or I at all, it’s about them.
Them… Mom, and my two sisters. It was Mom that asked that I write this time, rather than the other way around, as it was so many times in the past. Well, she didn’t ask in so many words. I’m sure you’re lost already…..
I talked to Mom for nearly 2 hours on the phone tonight. Once again you were brought up, like a recurring nightmare that never goes away. You are always there haunting us, even though you’ve never once actually been THERE.
We discussed for a long time different steps in the path I had taken to process what you did. Me, as always, trying to side skirt any true depth to the discussion. Then, Mom asked me to do, probably the worst thing she could of…. She asked me to write about it.
She asked me to write about the days I fought so hard to be daddy’s girl, the days I screamed and cursed at my step-dad because he wasn’t you, the days I begged her to tell me everything about you.
I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t want to think about the real stuff, the painful stuff. I didn’t want to revisit this nightmare.
Because you have caused so much pain to the people I love most, and it kills me to watch them suffer through it. And suffer they have, every day of their lives.
Tonight on the phone, I felt Mom’s pain as she told me, again, about how you would beat her until she was near death every weekend. How she put up with it. With all your abuse. Until that day she saw the pure terror in her daughter’s eyes and she knew, in that moment, that you had hurt them too. I felt her pain right through the phone lines. And I HATED YOU for it!
You weren’t mentioned because we care. You were merely brought up because my 35 year old sister had asked Mom, and I quote, “Why did Bob hurt us? What did I ever do?” 35 YEARS OLD! She has still not processed that it was never her, it was YOU! And I HATED YOU for that too!
Oh, I dreaded sitting down to write this. It’s always been the skeleton in the closet of my life. You see, this isn’t my story to tell. This is my sister’s story too. And my other sister, she doesn’t take lightly to her story being put out there like this. It’s an intimate piece of her vulnerability. And this sister, she has an extremely difficult time showing her emotions like that. Can you guess why? Of course, because of what you did to her!
My sister guarded her emotions better than anybody. The words ‘I love you’ never spilled from her lips. In fact, the first time my sister told me she loved me, I nearly cried. I was 22 years old…. I HATED YOU for that too!
But the biggest reason I didn’t want to write this is because it made me feel. Feel all the pain you have caused and the hurt you have ripple effected through my entire family, and their families, and I hated you for being the cause of that pain.
But more so, I didn’t want to write it because I didn’t want to feel the hate. Hating you gives your bad decisions power over my life. I refuse to let you have any more of my life than you’ve already selfishly taken. Just as you made a decision as an adult that caused all this pain and hurt, I have made a decision as an adult to not be a victim of it any more. I realized many years ago that it was never us girls, it was never mom, it was you that messed up.
That is why this reminiscing that Mom asked for is appropriately addressed to you. Just as you will most likely never see this letter, you will probably never feel the true pain of your choices. But there is none more deserving to be the recipient of this pain than you.
You beat my Mom. You beat her physically. You beat her mentally. You stole her self-respect. You were gifted with 3 beautiful daughters, and you chose to sexually molest two of them and physically abuse all three. And even after ALL of that, you were given numerous chances to have a place within our lives that you tossed away like a bad business deal. You don’t deserve my hate… you’re not even worth that much.
Your messed up decision has ripple effected through my entire life, a recurring nightmare that I can never escape. What did you get? 10 years in prison. There’s justice for ya.
While you were sitting comfy with 3 square meals a day, advanced schooling, fine art classes, internet access, cable tv. Mom was working double shifts, skipping meals, hoping and praying she could put enough food on the table at night. We didn’t get art classes. We didn’t get cable tv. Internet? Ha! There were days that Mom didn’t even know if she could keep a roof over our heads, in effect, because of what you had done. Ironically, this same choice ensured a roof over your head for 10 years.
In the meantime… I grew up watching the effects of your choice through my sisters. They’re process of dealing is as unique as their personalities. You know what’s even worse? How truly amazing this family of women are, because that is where my true story begins.
I was lucky. I was too little for your sick choices. The worst I got was whiskey bottles thrown at me when I would cry as a baby. But being the youngest had its downfalls too. I didn’t remember you. You were “dad”, half of who I was, and I wanted to know you. So I asked, again and again.
Now, most people would have scarred me from ever wanting to know you. But my Mom and my sisters weren’t most people, they were amazing people. They sat and told me, again and again, every good thing about you they could possibly muster. As an adult, looking back, I can only imagine that thinking of good things about you was an extremely difficult task.
Not only that, but Mom allowed me to write letters to you, to attempt to build a relationship with you, she even went so far as to fully fund and arrange meeting you in person when I turned 18.
I longed to be a daddy’s girl. It was in my character design. To have the pretty bows, and the shiny pink nail polish, laughing as it got chipped off while dad taught me how to fix cars, and play football, and cheered me on when I whooped the boys during sports I played. I had a natural, built in desire, to be daddy’s little buddy, daddy’s shadow, daddy’s girl. There was only one problem… I didn’t have a daddy.
Boy did I make Mom suffer for this. Not intentionally of course. Just as most children favor one parent over the other, it never means they love the other parent less. They simply are drawn to one set of characteristics. I happened to not have any interest in what society portrayed as a Mom’s role in a girl’s life, I wanted to be a part of dad’s world. Not you specifically, don’t get flattered. Dad was nothing more than an infatuated persona I had created based off of what society told me he should be.
That’s what happens when you’re not in a child’s life. They create a fictitious image created by mixing all the portrayals of what this parent should be until they have a perfect imprint crafted in their minds. I made you a hero, and it killed Mom. I HATED YOU for that too!
I remember a boyfriend or two of mom’s trying to fit the role. One was all up for teaching me how to fix cars when I was 8. That was until some 12 year old boy came riding along on his bike picking fun at me and I kicked his butt all over Mom’s car hood.
I have to admit, I didn’t make it too easy on them… I set the bar high for what I expected from a daddy, and it took a great deal to earn that badge of honor before a person was gifted with the title. The one guy that made it, he forever changed the effect you had on my life.
But anyway, back to that visit when I was 18…
That was the beginning of the end for you. The day we arrived home from, what was to me, the first time ever meeting you, you had changed your phone number. You have no idea what that does to a child’s psyche. All I wanted was my “daddy’s” approval, for him to like me, to love me, to think I was just the best little girl that walked the earth. And you changed your phone number. What were you thinking?!
I put my mom and dad. Yes, I said dad, because my step-dad damn sure earned that title. I put them through hell to attempt some sort of relationship with you. I thought knowing you would help to know me. I thought if I just dressed nicer, wore my hair prettier, was smarter, faster, funnier, braver… that “daddy” would like me. For nearly 18 years I tried to gain your approval. How silly of me.
I even went so far as to contact you after I had my own children, extremely cautiously of course, to build some sort of relationship. Oh yes, by now I was long past the daddy/daughter relationship ideals. But somewhere, I still felt a need to let you know who I was, to give you the chance to show the approval I so desperately desired for so much of my childhood. But you were so consumed with giving me sorry excuses for what you had done, you never allowed it to move forward. After that, I simply threw up my hands. If I had it my way, you’d never be mentioned again…
But, things don’t often go my way.
You are still a part of who I am. Like a recurring nightmare, you will never go away. My two children, both left handed although born to two right handed parents, carry a trait that echoes of you. My 3 year olds impressive drawing… even on my windows with her spit… is an echo of you. I don’t tell them about you. As far as they know my Dad, their Grandpa, died before they were born. They both know about the person I call Dad and what a great man he was.
But, I know the day will come that I will have to tell them.
I, personally, am no longer ashamed when the doctor asks about my paternal medical history and I have to tell them that I don’t know. But one day, my kids will have to give the same answer about their maternal grandfather’s medical history. And once again… you will be a recurring nightmare that I cannot escape.
I dread the day I have to tell my children about you.
I used to ask myself why. Why did he not love me? Why did he hurt us so much? Why am I not good enough? But I don’t ask those questions anymore. There is no answer, I know this. Even if you were man enough to truly try, even you, could not answer these questions.
Of course, you’ve tried in the past when I’ve asked. But those weren’t answers, merely excuses and sad attempts of justifying yourself.
I learned a secret tonight while talking to Mom on the phone. A secret she has kept buried for so long.
She told me of that day in court. The day she watched as you walked out, shackled to several other men also awaiting their hearings. Your eyes met, just for a moment and she asked you, what any mother would ask, “Why?”
Do you remember what you told her?
She sure does. She remembers it like the words had just rolled off your tongue.
You answered, “Because you wouldn’t give it to me so I took it from the next best thing.”
How dare you! That is a cowardly, abusive, excuse of a man, answer. How dare you even think to attempt to blame your actions on my Mom!
My Mom is an amazing woman, and in that moment you should have been kissing her feet and praising the ground she walked on.
Because if it had been me, if I had endured seeing that pain in my children’s eyes, if you had given me that answer… you would have never made it to see the judge that day.
Why did you hurt us? There is no why. There never will be a why…
A few months ago, my precious 3 year old daughter, the left handed daughter that can draw so well… was miserably sick.
When this happens, good parents, parents that are there for their children, take them to the hospital and they do whatever they can to find out what is wrong and to make it better.
Well, in this instance, the way to find out what was wrong with my darling daughter was to allow a nurse to catheter her. I knew this was not going to be fun, but I also knew she was very sick and felt, at the time, that a catheter was the best way the doctor would find out how to make her all better. So I did what good parents do. I held her hands, calmly talking to her, trying to make the process as comfortable as possible for her.
Let me tell you, it was NOT a comfortable process. It hurt her badly. And in that moment, when that little girl looked up at me as I held her hands down, with that look of innocent betrayal. I broke. I immediately stopped the nurse, demanding they figure out an alternative way of getting a urine sample from her.
And like the recurring nightmare that you are… there you were.
As I sat on that hospital bed, rocking my daughter, feeling as though I had violated every ounce of trust she had ever put in me… I thought of you.
I don’t doubt for one second that my sisters gave you that same look, that same terrified, betrayed, desperate look. And yet, you DIDN’T stop their hurt!!!
There will never be a why for a person that is capable of that… Never in a million years.
The truth of the story, I can’t write what Mom asked of me. I can’t write about how I processed through what you have done, because I haven’t. I don’t think there really is a processing through the tunnel you have thrown in our lives. There’s no light at the other end. I simply stopped asking why. I came to the understanding that sometimes people make bad choices. Sometimes those bad choices affect us. But that doesn’t make us bad. It simply is what it is.
I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that who you were as an adult, and the choices you made, have nothing to do with who I am, or my self-worth. Just like my mom and my sisters, I am one incredibly amazing adult… and you, surely don’t get any credit for that!
Bob, not because you’ve ever asked or deserve it, but because I do…
I forgive you for what you did.
… But I’ll never forget. Every time my sister struggles to tell me that she loves me… I’ll remember. Every time my other sister reverts to being 8 years old in her mind, agonizing over her trauma… I’ll remember. Every time Mom thinks she is anything less than the best mom God could have picked for us… I’ll remember. Every time I have to tell the doc, “I don’t know my biological fathers medical history.”… I’ll remember. Every time my heart breaks over a child that is longing for their missing parent to be there… I’ll remember.
Like a recurring nightmare… you will never go away.
As for me… It is what it is… I’ll be just fine!