Hey, who wants an emotional one?
Here it comes.
Years ago, my therapist asked me to write this letter, fold it up, and burn it. I never did. The other day, it came streaming out unprovoked...
My unsent letter to the dude that caused most of my family's Trauma, dear ole dad.
I was supposed to write you this letter two years ago. And I thought about it so many times before that. But I’ve never been able to find the words – not normally my MF MO.
For twenty years, I’ve dealt with the fact that you ruined my life. That you ruined all of our lives.
You abused my mother. You bruised her body. You screamed in her face. You kept her captive. You controlled her entire life. You tortured her for 25 years.
You made my oldest brother a heroin addict. You hit him as a child. You berated him for just being a kid. You roped him into your criminal life. You introduced him to opium. You turned him into your pill peddler.
You made my middle brother an alcoholic. You told him he was never enough. You threatened to make him a man. You caused him to hate himself. You taught him he wasn’t worthy of life or love.
And I’ve fucking hated you for the monster that you were.
The way you impacted a scared little ginger girl who never knew what it was to have a real dad. Who never got to have a real family. Who only knew how people under the same roof assaulted each other, physically, verbally, and emotionally. Who grew up with chronic worry that her mom wasn’t going to wake up the next morning. Who watched her big brother ruin his fucking life, turn purple mid overdose, and live homeless in Chicago. Who saw the way you destroyed her middle brother - her hero - who never had a chance to develop self-esteem or realize how awesome he is. Who lived with constant fear that you weren’t really gone, because you were always watching. Threatening. Offering to end all our lives.
From the age of 6, you introduced me to what alcoholism and opioid addiction looked like. You scared me past the point of feeling comfortable in your presence. You guilted me into acting like I knew the hulking figure who slammed doors and broke our belongings. You forced me to sit on your lap when you were nodding off. You insisted on making me drive with you, impaired, when you wanted to rant about my bitch-whore mother. You told me that I wasn’t wanted; none of us were. You proved it to me every day.
When I stopped speaking to you - when I finally got the courage and court-order so I could get out of your grip – you taught me what perseverance was. You stalked my family. You waited outside our house. You left the wild ramblings of an insane person on our voicemail. You taught me that I was never really safe. You imparted fear of men, especially those closest to me.
You made me a paranoid insomniac. You gave me “daddy issues” that control me to this day. You showed me what irrationality was. You demonstrated what unreasonable, controlling, domineering men looked like. You doomed me to repeat your abusive history; to never really know what a healthy human or relationship looked like. To make the same mistakes, to wind up with narcissistic addicts no matter how hard I tried to avoid you.
I said goodbye to you at 11, but I’ve never been free of your influence. Your reign of destruction never ended. The impression you left has never faded.
To this day, you appear in my nightmares. To this day, I do everything I can to stay away from people like you. To this day, I have no idea what genuine love feels like. To this day, I can’t imagine a life without living in fear and paranoia. To this day, I remember that you were supposed to be the protector of our family, our guardian and courageous role model.
To this day, I struggle to understand how a “man” can look at his children after hitting them, berating them, shooting at them, refusing to financially support them, trying to take their mother away, or telling them they’re worthless mistakes.
To this day, I live with the anxiety, depression, fear, and obsession that you passed our way. The addictive personality. The sense of inferiority. The self-hatred. The inability to have healthy relationships. The fear of other humans. The financial and personal insecurity. The knowledge that I’m another link in this endless chain of generational abuse and trauma; the subsequent refusal to have a family of my own.
To this day, I can point a lot of fingers in your direction. But I generally choose only two. To this day, I try my hardest to forget you altogether.
To this day, I thank my lucky fucking stars. I thank every gaseous body in the sky that you’re gone from my life. That I got away from you 20 years ago. That I never have to see you again. That your memory fades one iota more every day. That you taught me what a real man ISN’T. That you equipped me with my worst nightmare early on in life, so I could try to live the opposite.
To this day, I’m glad that I learned to be a strong, kind, courageous human. That I became an upright, accomplished, ambitious, healthy human being. That I know how to treat people, how to be accountable for my actions, and how to respect others mentally and physically. I learned how to be a good human; not because of you, but in spite of you.
And at least I can fucking thank you for that.