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Dear Daddy

I know we haven’t always gotten along well, but I have always loved you and wanted a better relationship with you. When you and Mama divorced, I thought for a short time that maybe we would have that better relationship. You confided in me, shared things with me, and even introduced me to the woman you had been seeing.

Then you married her. We weren’t even invited. You ran off to Vegas and came home and told me about it nearly a month after it happened. Maybe that’s why I did the same. I didn’t tell you about Ryan until I knew my sister had already told you about him.

But then you came home and you and your new wife moved into the home I had grown up in, and you moved her children into that home. When I came to visit, it didn’t even feel like home anymore.

Then you moved an hour away, and the only time we saw each other was on holidays or special occasions. I can’t say I missed you, since I don’t guess I ever really knew you. You were never an active part of my life.

Then you moved back, and that’s when you started talking to my sister. Oh, you and she were so close, sharing everything together. I was jealous, but I tried hard to hide it. I had lived all these years without having a real relationship with you, and I had done so because I had told myself that you just weren’t able to have relationships with your kids.

But there you were, having a relationship with my sister and your stepkids.

I wondered then, “Is it just me?”

I remember when I was in the hospital. I was so sick. Yes, you called me on the phone while I was there, but you never came to see me. I want to believe that the reason you didn’t come to see me was because you were scared, afraid to see me weak or frail.

Your wife came to see me though, but that’s not saying much since she worked at that hospital. She told me, “You know, we’re in the medical field, your father and I, and we know when something is serious or not. He would have come if it had been serious.”

I don’t know how serious it was to you, but to me, they poked a hole in my chest, had me completely immobilized and told me that if this medication didn’t work, I was probably going to die. Seemed pretty serious to me.

Then again, I’m not in the medical field. I mean, when they tell me that if this doesn’t work I could die, that sounds pretty serious to me.

I’m also not able to detach from my emotions like you so obviously try to do. I would have been there for you if you had been sick. I would have sat by your bed and waited on your hand and foot. I know even now, if you were sick, I’d be the first one to find a way to you, to take care of you, to be there for you.

You’re my Daddy. That’s what family does.

Where were you?

After I got out of the hospital, you called me a few times, and we talked. I got my hopes up again. I’m nearly forty years old and you’d think I’d know better by now. But still, I got my hopes up, thinking you would listen, understand, love me.

In reality, all you wanted was inside information to use against my sister, who had had a falling out with you guys for some reason. I don’t even remember why now. I don’t even care why anymore.

And then, one day, you just stopped calling. The conversations we’d had, the hope I had built up – shattered.

I still don’t know what I did wrong.

I called you on father’s day and got your voice mail. I left a message, but you never called me back.

I called you on your birthday and got your voice mail. I left a message, but you never called me back.

When Thanksgiving came around, I forwarded my home phone to a cell phone so that I wouldn’t miss your call, specifically wouldn’t miss YOUR call.

You never called.

Christmas came and went, and you never called. I called you Christmas Eve and left a message, and then waited all day long on Christmas Day.

And you never called.

I had presents for you and your wife. I was so proud of the things I’d picked out. I still have them, too. Still wrapped, on the top shelf of the closet in the hallway.

And I cried.

I felt like that little 15 year old girl again, desperately wanting her parent’s love and approval and getting nothing but ice, cold, silence. I felt like a wounded child.

And like a wounded child, that night, though it had been a wonderful and beautiful night with people who loved me all around me, I curled up in a ball and let him hold me while I cried.

I’m so glad he understands me enough to know that it’s not because he’s not enough.

It’s just… you’re my Daddy.

And I miss you.

I know that it’s hard for you to see me as anything but the daughter who disappointed you, left home, got pregnant and ruined her life.

But I have two beautiful children, a wonderful family, a home of my own now, and that baby I had as a kid graduated from high school with honors three years ago and is making As and Bs in college and has a great full-time job. My son is a loving and wonderful kid who is sharp as a tack and he’s going to really make something of himself when he finally figures out where he belongs.

I’m successful now. People respect me. They listen to my opinions. I do what I love, and I love what do, and I have people around me who love me and appreciate me.

I have books published, did you know that? Yeah. See, I changed my name for the books. I tell everyone it was because the name was too common, and while that’s true, sadly, it’s also because it removed my association from a family that has not been what I dreamed and believed a family could be. Should be.

I guess you could say I reinvented myself. One day I woke up and decided that I didn’t like who I was and what I’d become.

I finally broke away from my expectations of what I thought you wanted me to be, what Mama wanted me to be, what anyone else wanted me to be.

I finally became who *I* wanted me to be.

And I found out something in the process.

I like me.

I really, really like who I am, at the very core of me. For the first time in my life, I’m happy. I’m not talking about happy in the moment, but truly, deeply, soulfully happy.

I love my life now, my little chosen family, the people I wished into my life. It’s not perfect, but it’s getting better every day.

Still, I know you’ll never see me as who I am today. That makes me sad, because, you see, Daddy, I think that if you knew me, you’d really like me too.

I don’t need you anymore, Daddy. But my heart still wants you. I still sigh wistfully when I see a father and daughter of any age out together. I had always hoped that as an adult I could be somewhat of a contemporary with you, someone you respected, maybe even considered a friend as well as a daughter.

You haven’t been there for me when I needed you, when I wanted you. I know I haven’t been the perfect daughter, and I know that in so many ways I’ve let you down and failed to live up to your expectations.

But the one thing I want you to know the most is this. I forgive you. Even if you will never forgive me for failing in your eyes, I forgive you for failing in mine. And when you need me, it won’t matter if you’ve gone years without speaking to me, I’m going to be there. I’ll be the first one by your side when that call comes in that Daddy needs me.

Because, Daddy, that’s what family does.

Because, despite everything else, I still love you, and I still want you to be my Daddy.

Love,
Shelly

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13 Responses to “Dear Daddy”

  1. Rissa says:

    The thing is, him pushing you away is a reflection of who he is and his faults, not yours. But you know this, and I am sure you’ve heard this all before.

    The fact that you still love him and would be there for him is a reflection of who you are- a loving, wonderful and worthy person.

    Hugs to you. Thank you for sharing your pain.

  2. Ritu says:

    Truly heartwrenching. It left me shook up.

  3. jckat says:

    I am glad that you like *you* now. I like you too and am sorry that he doesn’t treat you like he should.

  4. carol gibson says:

    It’s easy to understand how that could be haunting

  5. Windowshopping says:

    It does not matter how old you are or how long ago you were abandoned, it still hurts. Striving, vying for attention, for perfection, you thought and were led to believe that *you* were not enough. But the reality is that, like many things in life, you were a perfect mirror… it was the people whom you thought judged you so harshly who truly felt, in their heart of hearts, inadequate… and maybe really and truly were.

    Writing this letter is a step toward healing. Forgiveness is another step. And loving in the face of indifference gives you a strength which will never, ever be taken from you.

    Blessings, Love, and Light

  6. Angel says:

    What a wonderful, touching letter. I am sorry things haven’t worked out so far with your Daddy, and hope, like you, that they do one day.

    You are doing what’s right, and I’m glad for your success in the face of indifference. Your strength shows through in everything you do.

    Take care,
    Angel

  7. Linda says:

    There are no words to express how much moving this letter is.

  8. Jo Brielyn says:

    Your letter is so touching and speaks volumes about who you are: an amazing woman who’s overcome great obstacles in life and who’s learned how to love unconditionally.

    You moved me to tears with your words. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  9. Cindy says:

    I think you speak for thousands of us and hopefully your Daddy will listen.

    I’m proud to be a member of your new extended family!

  10. What a moving letter. Well said, though I wish you didn’t have to go through that pain.

  11. Borgieskid says:

    “truly, deeply soulfully happy”… what a beautiful way to express how you feel. As a Mom, you know that you’ll always love your children, no matter what. That’s how your Daddy feels, he just doesn’t show it or act on it. He loves you though. I love this letter and wish you continued soulfully happy days ahead.

  12. Heather Grenier says:

    I have a “Dear Daddy” letter in my own mind. I understand your pain and your feelings of abandonment. I am sorry you have had to go through this, but I am thrilled that you are so happy with yourself. Amidst all the sadness in this letter, that is the part that will stay with me.

  13. Vonnie says:

    Wow, this one stung, as it hit too close to home. As I started reading it, I had to look at the name because my first thought was “I don’t remember writing this”.

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