Please hear me.
I look at you in admiration. I see my dad who taught me how to ride a bike. I see my dad who used to make me cry out in laughter when he’d be a crazy driver or make that goofy laugh. I see my dad who guided me down the right path and who was so quick to reroute and forgive me when I strayed. I see my dad whose intelligence I could only strive for.
That is what is so confusing to me; you gave me your smarts, you taught me the meaning of benevolence (both literally and practically), and you showed me that I can achieve anything. But to teach something, you must know it first yourself right? So how is my dad so blind and helpless to the man that has taken over?
I look at that man who is awoken with alcohol with despise. I see a man who cares of no one else except himself. I see a man who is mean and unhelpful. I see a man who I would never willingly associate myself with.
It seems as though that man likes to hurt. He likes to push a knife into my heart, that’s what it feels like when he hurts me. My dad was and still is blind to the effects of this man.
But, wounds heal, and that’s the thing. Naturally, I’d always want to forgive you, and it was so easy too when you were acting as my dad, not like that man. Who wouldn’t want to love their amazing father?
It was a vicious cycle. I can distinctly remember how every time I would forgive you, I’d question how I was ever even mad at you to begin with. This makes sense because this man and my dad have the same face. When I was mending things, it would be with my dad. But as soon as my heart would heal, the man would shove a knife right through it again.
It was hard to know that after forgiving him and learning to trust again, my dad would let this man continue to hurt me.
It was a cycle, until it wasn’t anymore. Yes, wounds can heal, but they leave a scar. A heart with too much scar tissue doesn’t work anymore, and I can tell you exactly which scar was the one to break my heart.
My 16th birthday will forever be the most painful day of my life, and I truly believe that. A death is sad, a heartbreak is sad, but this, losing my father even though he’s right in front of me, that shattered my world.
I invited my dad to the celebration, but as soon as I got home, that man was there instead. My mom doesn’t like that man either and I think maybe he has hurt her more than maybe even me. She was mad at him for showing up that day instead of my dad, and those fights never go well. It was my birthday and I tried to intervene. All I wanted was to pretend to be normal and happy this one day, on my birthday,
That man didn’t like what I was saying and the next thing I knew, the makeup I had just applied to take a cute birthday selfie was streaming down my face. That man was trying to tell me that his drinking didn’t affect anyone else in the family. That was the stab. Then I was trying to tell him how hurt he makes me feel, how much he has affected me, and he mocked me in a high pitched voice. That pushed the knife in deeper.
I told the man he wasn’t welcome at my birthday celebration, which granted was only supposed to be my mom and my dad, but he refused to leave, so I did. I sat in the car at the end of my street sobbing thinking about what had just happened. But, surprisingly, part of me felt hopeful. I just told that man such important and personal things and I hoped that underneath, my dad heard his daughter pleading with him. I thought this was the fight that was going to make the man leave for good.
I came back, walked directly passed that man, and went straight upstairs to fix my makeup because god damn it, I was going to at least post a picture with my cake so I could feel somewhat normal. But nope, while I was sobbing in the car, hoping that man was thinking about the harm he caused, hoping he was packing his bags so my dad could come back for good, he decided to eat my cake.
We didn’t even sing happy birthday yet dad.
I didn’t even get to make my wish, the same one I make every year, the same one that never comes true when that man comes back.
He pushed the knife in deeper, and when he couldn’t push anymore, he twisted. Another fight erupted and once again I ended up leaving with clenched fists, runny makeup, and a heart that weighed a thousand pounds, this time though, I was by foot. It was raining, but I was hurting so badly I didn’t even care. I sat there, in the rain, and waited twenty minutes for my boyfriend to pick me up. I was hysterical, but I pulled it together so I could once again pretend to be okay for people. Thomas’ mom had surprised me with a cake that had my name on it and when she came out, candles lit, singing happy birthday while the whole family joined in, I burst out to tears. Why couldn’t I just have a normal birthday at my own house with my own parents? Why does this have to be so unfair?
Since then, when I look at you, I don’t even bother to look to see if it's my dad or that man on that particular day. He hurt me so badly that day, I won't allow myself to forgive him. Not even because of my birthday or what you did, but how you made me feel. He told me his drinking didn’t affect anyone else… how could he possibly ever think that? Even my dad, how could he not realize the things this man was saying to me? I was so hurt. I never want to feel like that again. Ever. So I won’t give you the opportunity to hurt me anymore.
Or at least I thought.
This letter is so you understand that your drinking has made an everlasting effect on your children and your wife. I don’t know if you’ll hear me, you haven’t ever heard me before. This is hard for me because this is me doing exactly what I just said I don’t do anymore, I’m making myself vulnerable to you. Whenever I decide to give this to you, I just know the next time that man shows up, my scars are going to sting a little. I’m walking into my own trap.
You have hurt me. It is hard for me to trust people. I feel the need to constantly suppress my feelings because I feel as though no one will care. I act based on the people around me and their reactions. I live with the anxiety of everything, every second of my life. I constantly feel the need to be loved or feel loved, which is hard for me to be convinced of. I feel the need for someone to accept me. I live in fear; fear and angst in everything I do and I worry that I am not myself, but the person your drinking has made me become. I fear most that one day I’ll end up just like you.
Am I good enough for you, dad? Is Heather or Brayden or Emma or mom? What about your job? Or your house? Or your car? I think, no scratch that, I know it’s only natural to feel as though you chose alcohol over me. What is so wrong with me, with your life, that you must drink?
You know you have a problem. I think you know what your drinking has done to me, but don’t want to admit it. I think you know that you’re unhappy. So why must you drink?
You have an addiction. An addiction to alcohol. An addiction to hurting everyone around you. No one is happy when that man shows up, and we all support you in trying to get better. I want my dad back from this man who is taking away his life one drink at a time. The same demon who took my grandma away from me before I could even meet her.
I lived through it, but now I’m realizing that there’s more hurt to what he’s done than what I felt at the moment. I am seriously psychologically messed up, it is hard for me to function in my daily life. I think that’s enough pain to be angry at this man, and you should be too. Look at what he has done to me, look at what he’s making me write, look what he’s making me tell you.
More importantly, look at what he is doing to you. He is destroying your life and your body. Dad, I know I got your attention by now and I’m hoping this letter and what I am saying is getting through that barrier that is that man, and reaching you.
Your exhausted daughter
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