What I wish my dad knew
I was only a little girl. I couldn’t help having needs. I had to survive, and I trusted you. I didn’t ask to be born. But once I was here, you could have been happy. You could have seen it as a privilege. I had delicate feelings, and I needed to feel safe and nurtured. I didn’t need to see you struggle with alcoholism. I didn’t need the violent image in my five-year-old head of you throwing a briefcase at my mother and me as we fled the house in the middle of the night in terror while you were raging drunk. I wanted to look up to you.
I wanted you to hug me and tell me how happy you were because you were my dad.
I wish you weren’t jealous of the attention I got from my mother. I wish you two didn’t fight so much. I wish you didn’t spank me or take my mother’s side when she told you how I “slighted” her while you were at work and felt the need to hurt me without hearing from my side. I wish my side mattered. I wish my feelings mattered. I wish you wanted to do things with me that weren’t all about you. I wish you wanted to protect me from things and people that frightened me, and took the time to understand my fears to help me get over them. I wish you cheered me on at my swim meets. I wish you didn’t need to start a fight with me before an important even, like a first grade holiday program, or my first high school dance with a crush so I had to go with a puffy face. Everyone knew I had been crying. I wish you had said you were sorry. I wish you went to my parent conferences. I wish you had time to pick me up from school so I didn’t have to take the bus two hours to get home. You could have. I wish you didn’t forget to pick me up at school when you said you would. I wish you talked to me rather than at me. I wish you respected my feelings and recognized that I was a child. I wish I didn’t have to sob out of fear of being left alone with you at home when my mother had to leave for out of town business conferences. I wish you didn’t lie to me. I wish you didn’t blame me for things that weren’t my fault.
I wish you knew just how sensitive I was.
I wish you were interested in me. I wish you weren’t so concerned with other people’s wants over my needs. I wish I knew I mattered. I wish I didn’t have to hear my mother convince me that you loved me. I wish you taught me to feel good about myself for who I was. I wish it would have been unthinkable for you to physically hurt me. I wished you would disappear and never come back. I wish you knew how hard I tried to get your attention. I wish you knew how hard I tried to keep you from being angry with me. I wish you knew how much I dreaded the time you came home from work. I wish you knew how innocent and sweet I really was.
** I wish you knew how often I apologized to you for something that wasn’t my fault just to make you happy.**
I wish you didn’t try to make me feel bad or stupid with mean-spirited teasing. I wish you didn’t try to make me feel guilty for the cost of my college education. I wish you didn’t need to fight with me as an adult. I wish you knew how important it was to be a good father. I wish you knew how much you hurt me. I wish you knew how scared of you I was. I wish you knew how despicable you were when you tried to hit on my friend. I wish you knew how pathetic you are as a man for failing so miserably as a father. You could have at least tried.
I wish I didn’t grow up thinking I was a pain in the ass to you.
I wish you had been considerate of my personal space when you took over my room and went through my personal possessions clearing out my drawers. I wish you had shown me respect. I wish you had taught me more about what a good man is like by example. I wish you hadn’t tried to sue me over a rug. I wish you weren’t a spoiled, sad and depressed man who couldn’t see how your emotional absence would affect me and almost every choice I made in my life up till now. I wish you had embraced your role as a father so you could reap the rewards as a grandfather. I wish my children had a grandfather, but don’t want it to be you. I wish things had been different, because I know I deserved more. I wish you hadn’t told me my mother was jealous of me and my creative abilities. I wish you hadn’t spoken badly of anyone I cared about. I wish you had been a good role model. I wish I didn’t waste so much time trying to get your approval. I wish you and my mother had been more conscientious parents.
And now, I wish for myself to heal from these wounds that run so deep.
originally posted on Reddit a year ago - newly edited