Letter to an abandoning father #alcoholism #familysystems #recovery #wellbeing #mentalhealth
October 17, 2014 § Leave a comment
I woke up again this morning with everything I wish I could say to you on my mind. I wonder if writing you letters that you will never receive will help purge the frustration and anguish of being your daughter. It doesn’t seem to matter that you are now in your 80s and I am in my 50s. The situation has not improved and I fear it is getting worse.
I wish you could have cared for me. I wish you could have demonstrated that you love me by putting my security and well-being first. I wish you could have shown me that I was worth being loved by actually making me feel loved. I wish you could have shown me that I was worth protecting by actually making me feel protected.
Yes, I know I am an adult and have been an adult for more years than I was a child. But the damage of my childhood with you as my father has plagued me for a lifetime and I want it to stop. I realize that you do not understand how your attitude toward me has been deeply traumatizing. It concerns me that in recent years I have so many examples of your lack of care and consideration for my person.
My attempts to change the quality and character of our relationship have resulted in more hard feelings toward me. It appears that you are not going to talk to me about your view of me, but that you are content to allow your wife to insult me over the phone.
Ugh. It is painful to go down this dark street. But there doesn’t seem to be any other way for me to break this loop of useless rumination that destroys my sense of well-being while doing nothing to address the situation. After a lifetime of a pattern of being treated as the ‘also ran’ of the family, it is very difficult to know where to begin. Or where to end.
I know that you will not see this, and if you did, you would not read it with an empathetic heart. I am tired of always being seen as someone I am not. I am tired of fighting for a healthy relationship with you and then blamed when I have to take a break because the effort is wasting me.
One thing is for sure. Whatever I have achieved in my life: graduating with a PhD, raising three children, owning a home, marriage, artistic expression, craftsmanship, etc. None of these were a result of your support. What I have achieved, and will achieve, is a result despite your lack of support.
All my life I have looked at other women who are self-confident, make wise life choices, have close relationships with their fathers, and I wondered what was wrong with me. I saw myself as profoundly inadequate, damaged in an all encompassing way, fatally flawed and destined to never find love, support, caring, security, worthiness, and power. What I have learned is these are the typical symptoms of a girl who is unfathered. These are the symptoms of a woman who has never known what it felt like to have a father who has ‘got her back’.
It has only come to my attention recently that the issue of who has got my back is a very simple test to determine the value I place on any relationship, family or otherwise. I have struggled all my life trying to build my life on relationships with people who demonstrated, over and over again, that they did not have my back. I thought that was normal. It is only lately that I have realized that horrible feeling of utter loneliness, of feeling unprotected in the world, of always having to stand alone and watch all sides, is a symptom of a condition of being abandoned and betrayed by you.
By a miracle of hard work and growth, I have managed to build relationships with people who do have my back, and care about my well-being. I have also managed to learn how to have their back, not care taking, not neglecting, not depriving, or invading, but to be respectfully behind them as they attempt difficult endeavours. It feels amazing!
So Dad, for now I must tell you that I never felt like you had my back. I never felt protected by your presence in my life. I never felt loved for who I was, I never felt that I was important to you. I am learning to live with that reality and it sucks. But that is the way it is.
I extended an olive branch, I offered to re-connect. You have put off talking to me because, as usual, you have more important things to attend to than build a healthy relationship with me. Well. I will continue to process what that feels like. I often ask myself if you died tomorrow would I attend your funeral. At this point I really don’t see why it would be important. Also, I’m not sure I would be welcome anyway, after the rant your wife subjected me to when I called on your birthday. If she feels it is necessary to screen your calls so I can’t talk to you and accuse me of wanting money from you, I really don’t see that bodes well for me attending your funeral when the time comes, do you? I know you don’t care about these things, or you would actually do something about them.
Be that as it may, I just have to begin the arduous process of getting all this off my chest. Because, let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger and the load is just too heavy to carry around anymore.