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DADDY ISSUES // OPEN LETTERS TO THE FIRST MAN WHO BROKE MY HEART




Dear "Daddy,"


[Age 4] Scared & Confused

Why are you so angry? Why do you always yell at Mommy and make her cry? She's so much smaller than you. When you push and hit her it makes me so mad. I feel really hot and I want to scream and kick and punch. Anything to help her. Seeing her scared makes me so scared. Seeing her cry makes me so sad and I want to save her. But I can't. I'm too little. I'm not strong enough. So I go in my room, play with my dolls and imagine a world where all mommies and daddies got along and always had fun together. I like to imagine things and other places. It helps me block out the loud yelling and I forget how bad you make me feel.

My brother, too. Why don't you like him like I do? He's funny and caring, andddd he always plays games with me and lets me play his PlayStation which makes being in this house not-so-bad. He's helping me learn to read and write too. I know he's not really your son, but is this how fathers treat their sons? I'm so confused and frustrated. I do this weird thing with my shoes. My shoelaces have to be super tight or I can't wear them. They cut off my circulation most of the time, but I like the way it feels. It feels secure.

I'm going to counseling now. She asks me about you a lot. I don't know what's the point of all this but I don't like talking to a stranger about my family. I wish I could take you, my mom and my brother to the places I make up in my head and we could all be happy together.


[Age 10] Broken

I'm in the 5th grade now. I love school. I think you would be proud of me. I get all A's on my report cards. Ok maybe not ALL A's - I really hate history, I was never good at it. It's probably because I don't like to remember things from the past. Who says the things that are written in the textbooks are true anyway? Math is my favorite subject because it can be proven and it makes so much sense to me.  I'm in my 3rd elementary school now. Mommy had to transfer me because we moved (again) with our cousins and its easier for me to go to the same school as them. This school is really different from my last; everyone is a lot meaner. The boys are starting to notice me and make comments about how big my butt is. Sometimes they even try to grab it. It makes me feel uncomfortable but I'm scared to stand up for myself or they might retaliate liek you used to do to my mom. A lot of the girls at my school don't like me and constantly try to start fights with me. They call me all types of names, especially 'slut'. I don't even know what that means. My mom tells me the girls are just jealous and to not pay any mind to them. I like the attention from the boys, it feels good. It's nice to feel wanted.

My mom says I'm really mature for my age. My body is 'mature', my attitude is mature, and my mindset is mature. I stay focused on my schoolwork because it's like my escape from reality. I feel powerful when I learn new things. Even though my teacher doesn't like me - because I wear earrings and lip gloss, she said im 'too fast' - I still look forward to going to school every day to be around people who actually notice me, even if it's not all good attention. I don't understand why people assume things about me because of the way I look. Because of this, I vow to never judge another person because you really don't know what theyre going through or what makes them a certain way.

It's so cool seeing my friends at school, who play sports and stuff, have their parents there rooting them on all the time. It must be really nice to have both parents in your life. I wonder what its like. Do they get to run to their dad when their mom says no? Do they play catch with their dad in their front lawns like in the movies? Do they eat dinner at a table with nice plates and stuff? They must have so much money with two parents. They go on so many vacations to cool places like the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. I get a little jealous. I want to do fun things like that with my family but we dont have enough money. It's hard for my mom to pay rent and bills. She works so hard. It doesn't make sense to me.

I stopped wearing my shoelaces so tight. But, now I have to wear my hair pulled back so tight or else I feel really uncomfortable. Sometimes I wear it so tight it breaks some strands of hair. It gives me a headache but it gives me that secure feeling I like.

I accept my reality - that you're not in my life. I don't understand why you don't want to be in my life. I thought parents loved their kids unconditionaly but I guess that's not always the case. People at school always have this sound in their voice like they're sorry for me when I tell them you're not in my life and that I barely know you. It's weird but I reassure them that it doesn't phase me. My mom is amazing and she and my brother are all I need.


[Age 16] Resentful

Forget everything I said before. I don't accept my reality. I hate it. I'm miserable. I could never understand how a person can have a child and NOT want to be in their life. I've had 12 birthdays since you left and I can only remember you calling me for one. You never even tried to help my mom with money for me. You have no idea how hard it's been for us. We've moved into a new apartment damn near every year for the past 8 years. I had to skip out on so many school trips, getting new clothes, playing sports, and pretty much any luxury because we barely had money to pay our rent, let alone keep food in the fridge. I had to grow up quick because you weren't there. I missed out on a lot of the innocent pleasures in life and now it's hard for me to make friends because I just don't connect with people around my age. Especially if they're too nice. I don't trust people who are too nice, they make me feel uncomfortable. I attract damaged people, and that's ok because I'm damaged too and those are the only types of people I can really relate to.

When my grandmother died, my mom lost it for a while. She started drinking too much and making a scene every time she was drunk. It usually ended in a violent situation somehow. She brought around strange men; she doesn't really have the best taste in men [clearly.] I know she just wants to feel loved but it bothers me how much she settles. I know she's worth so much more. You really traumatized her and I hate you for that. Her actions really infuriate me but I try not to take it out on her because I know she's just hurt from all the pain she's gone through. She's such a beautiful, strong, hard-working woman. If she can't find a great guy who will love and respect her, is there any hope for me? I dont have any faith in love or marriage. I don't want to have kids because no matter how much you may love them, every single action you make affects them in some way and I never want another person to feel the way I feel because of you being abesnt in my life and my mom being an emotional mess.

My older brother has stepped in a lot in lieu of you. At my Sweet 16, he shared my first dance with me and he changed my shoes from slippers to heels to signify my transition into womanhood; all things that are typically done by one's father. If and when I get married one day, he'll be the one to walk me down the aisle. He always tells me that he's not going to allow me to become one of those girls who act wild because of their 'daddy issues.' He sits me down for hours and lectures me on all things from boys, and friendships, to the importance of school/education, and mainly succeeding in life and being the one to make it out of the constant cycle of misery we were used to growing up. He definitely put me on to game at a young age which helped me make a lot of smart decisions that I probably wouldn't have done otherwise. He stressed to me how valuable I am and to never forget my worth. Is this what fathers do for their daughters?

I'm getting older now and experiencing a lot more life. I think I'm in love. It's my first real relationship. I'm not sure what to base it off of though, because I've never seen real love between a man and a woman. I'm so scared he'll eventually just leave me, after all if my own father can leave me then someone who's only been in my life for a year or so can surely leave without warning. I think my fear comes out in unhealthy ways like a little bit of clinginess and this end-of-the-world feeling whenever we fight. I wish I just knew how to love in a pure way. I don't feel whole if I'm not with him.

I really do love him, but I had to leave before he left me. If i'm not enough for you how can I ever be enough for another man?


[Age 22] Sorry

I'm not bitter anymore. Now, I'm just sorry for you. I'm sorry you missed seeing me grow up and that you didn't want to be a part of my successes. I'm sorry you didn't get to teach me how to ride a bike or see how fast I could run and how competitive I was as a child. I'm sorry you missed all my band concerts from fourth grade to senior year in high school. I'm sorry you weren't able to cheer me on when I was cheerleading and being thrown 30ft in the air. I'm sorry you didn't get to help me learn to read and write or congratulate me when I came home with honors roll time and time again. I'm sorry you didn't get to see me graduate elementary school, middle school, high school, and especially college. I'm sorry you weren't in the audience at any of the fashion shows I coordinated and modeled in.

I'm sorry you didn't get to be my shoulder to cry on when I got my heart broken or that you didn't get to deliver the infamous fatherly speech to my prom date. I'm sorry you weren't there to share the father-daughter dance with me at my Sweet 16. I'm sorry you broke my heart before any other male could.

I'm sorry that I have accomplished so much in the past few years and you have heard nothing about it. I'm sorry that you think because you have me on Facebook, we suddenly have a relationship and you can take credit for anything that I am.

I'm sorry you chose a life without me in it.

I used to really feel sorry for myself. I felt sorry for being without my dad my whole life and trying to fill that never-ending void with temporary pleasures. Whether it be back-to-back relationships, constant partying, smoking weed, or even more healthy habits like obsessing over school work or new hobbies. Nothing could ever seem to fill that hole that you left in my heart.

I look back on all of the times that we never shared together and I don't get sad or mad anymore. Rather, I get a sense of pride in myself. I know how strong I've become just because of your lack of existence. I know that there were people in my life who took your spot and excelled in raising me. I know that you will never see the damage you've done to me, and I promise you that I will make sure you will never see my successes as your own.

[Age 24] At Peace

The last relationship I was in reminded me of you way too much. He constantly disrespected me and mentally abused me. He brought out the best but most importantly the worst in me. We were so toxic for eachother but I stayed for much longer than I should have because it felt normal to me. After all, that's all I've really ever known.

I took the time to do some deep introspection and finally heal all my emotional wounds because I was getting sick of the constant feeling of void in my life. I started praying a lot more and getting in tune with my spirituality. I can honestly say prayer is the only thing that kept me sane - and I mean that in the most literal way possible. I learned to fill all voids with God's love and never expect that from another person. I learned to forgive everyone who's ever hurt me, especially you - even if I never get an apology. I learned to enjoy my own company and moving to another country by myself helped me face my fears of being alone. I no longer feel incomplete without a partner. I am content with myself and my life. I'm sorry you don't get to be a part of it.

I am the master of my fate.

I am at peace.

Sincerely,

Your little girl.