Heartbreak Part 2: A Letter to My Father

I feel like the title of this post is pretty self explanatory. Forgive me for the break in (semi) regular programming of LBGTQIA+ topics, my brain is absorbed by family drama at the moment.

Forgiveness does not mean allowing toxic people to continually complicate your life. I forgave you for years of absenteeism in my life and for your addition driving my mother and I away from our home, but the fact remains – my depression and anxiety undoubtedly stem from that, from your mistakes. Every friend I made at that horrible school I was dropped in when we moved ended up stabbing me in the back, and just when I’d met someone good, someone I could have a lasting friendship with, it was time to go home. I was forced to build a new life just to have it torn away. It took me years to learn how to be truly happy again. You have never, ever made me feel safe. Sometimes I wonder if you quit meth when we left because you wanted us back, or because your parents wouldn’t include you in their will if you didn’t. It has always disgusted me how you shameless depend on my grandparents for income. I let go off all this anger long ago, but when you treat my mother this poorly and spit in both of our faces by bringing up divorce, long healed wounds are ripped wide open and you leave me a furious, bloody mess. It would be so, so easy to hate you. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike because you didn’t have time to teach me and my codependent mother insisted it was a father’s job to teach his daughter how to ride a bike. People would have thought my mother was single if she hadn’t worn her farcical wedding ring because you never went anywhere with her – you were either sweating to feed your habit, getting high in the garage, or sitting on your ass in front of the t.v. after a day off nonstop meth earning. You were high when I was born. You were high at my christening. You were high when you spoke at my grandfather’s funeral. We almost lost the house because of your screw ups. You almost missed my eighth grade graduation because you were playing tennis. My mother had zero tolerance for anything but perfection in my behavior as a small child because she felt she had to do the job of two parents. When you would try to quit and camp out in front of the trustee idiot box while riding out with drawl symptoms, she was even more short tempered than usual – and that is to say, if I moved wrong, I got screamed at. To this day, every time you drink you pick a fight with my mother. There is so, so much more, but I don’t want to dwell in this place of fury. It would be all too easy to hate you, but I can’t find it in me to do that. You may be the most selfish, insensitive person I know, but you still feed the cat goat kefir and rub her belly whilst she lounges by the heater. When the fluffy beast delivers us birds, you always try to save them. You adore every small child you come into contact with, and they automatically adore you. My earliest memory is of you with a giant, curved cushion on your back pretending to be a turtle and giving me rides on your back. One of the only reasons I started playing softball was because I knew it would catch your interest, and the first time in my life that I felt like I had your full attention was when you were teaching me to pitch. Practicing at the park with you and H. on an overcast spring Saturday is one of my fondest memories. I love that you love my passion for books and the Russian language;  that you’ve never refused to take me to a bookstore. I love that you are constantly making random chicken noises and comically remixing songs. I love that you admire me for being a vegetarian and have never interrogated me about dating or argued with me about not wanting children. You soothed a deep, dark fear in me when I finally came out to you as asexual and homoromantic. I told you I thought I had been a coward for avoiding coming out to you for so long, you said you didn’t think I was cowardly at all – on the contrary, you told me that you had absolutely nothing negative to say about me. When I caught my cousins gossiping about me, saying I was doing nothing with my life and that my parents should be ashamed of me, you sent a letter defending me and telling them that you could never, ever be ashamed. I asked you to wait until I had sent text messages confronting them, and you were so amped up you could hardly restrain yourself. You taught me that rubbing the stomach of a Blue Belly lizard puts it to sleep, that documentaries are entirely underrated, and that pancakes are best cooked in a pan. As hard as I try not to need you, I do. I have always needed you, and you’ve never been able to give me enough. I don’t know if it’s because your first wife destroyed you or if it’s because your own father was away traveling for much of your childhood, but I don’t think you’re capable of the love that parenthood requires. I know you’re not capable of the love that a healthy marriage requires – and even as I type this, I remember the moments scattered across years that you were, and hope that I’m lying. Your good is heaven, and your bad is hell. I can’t handle the whiplash anymore, and I don’t even want to imagine how my mother feels – my mother, who, for all her faults, loves more deeply than anyone I know. My mother who, for reasons beyond me, is still hopelessly in love with you. If I know one single thing for certain, it is that you do not deserve her.                                                              You haven’t used meth in ten years – true. You are not an addict – false. The facts or the facts, and addict is not a dirty word, simply a description – in your case, a description of someone for whom reality is determined by their needs. If you are tired, then the world must be quite so you can sleep – if there is the slightest noise, the world is out of balance. Never mind that you sleep in the living room every night, and there are other people in the house who need to eat in the morning. If it’s eleven in the morning and you’re still tired, it’s abominable of my mother to make breakfast because you’re sleeping. When you’re watching a football game and the dog needs to be taken out, you ask your daughter – who is in the middle of doing her math homework – to do it for you. Perfectly logically. And if she has a bit of an attitude while she does it, she is being completely unfair, because you were watching a game! And when sports are on t.v. , nothing else in the world matters. You start the day by drinking two energy drinks, don’t eat lunch, go play tennis, and then expect everyone in the house to wait on you when you return home because you’re exhausted, yet you refuse to eat better, and you love the caffeine rush too much to avoid the crash. That’s just it. The drugs are out, but nothing’s really changed. Meth has been replaced by energy drinks and wine on the weekends, the house hold activities still revolve around you, my mother still brings you dinner in your chair nearly every night, and you still blow a gasket whenever someone says something you don’t like or when you have to do something you don’t want to, such as paying bills or being put on hold on the phone. Sure, you rearrange the pillows on the couch when you get up everyday, but you seldom show my mother any affection, and you only hug me when you’re drunk. I remember telling a counselor about a fight you and mom had years ago and the subsequent fit you threw – the details are muddy now, but she responded with a disbelieving, “Wow. That is such addict behavior.” I think that was the first time I realized it – you aren’t using, but you’re still and addict. You quit on your own, which in and of itself is a bit impressive, but programs exist to break the patterns and mindset that addiction leaves people with, and you should have swallowed your pride and enrolled in one.                                                                                                                                        I love you, and think I’m always going to, as much as it would be easier just to rip you out of my heart and forget you. But I can’t stay on this rollercoaster. My God calls me to forgive, but he does not call me to embrace toxicity – and you are a toxic person, especially when you are behaving as cruelly and childishly as you have been this past week. I remember telling my counselor years ago that I was finally realizing you weren’t capable of change – that the dad I had was the dad I was stuck with. Change is what I want. You make yourself capable if you truly love me. You treat my mother with respect, act like an adult, and go to marriage counseling with her, swallow your pride, and admit that you are an addict. Admit that you put her through twelve years of hell when you were using, that you continue to torment her with your selfishness, and you work  at seeing the world beyond yourself and your needs. If your incapable of doing that, I’m done. I can only take so much. My heart did not heal simply for you to rip it, still beating, out of my chest. My wounds did not heal for you to leave deeper scars. The tragic thing is, I know I’m lying. The pain you’ve stirred up in me these past few days is going to take months to subside. I should face the future with absolutely no fear because nothing – absolutely nothing – can hurt like loving you has.

 

I apologize for the lack luster post, I was sobbing as I was writing this, and while it was rather therapeutic, it is far from my best writing. I am sure I’ll be in a better place soon, and I am determined to raise the bar for the next post.

That being said, I hope this mediocre letter that I will never have the guts to send makes someone feel less alone.

 

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