After a motivational speech insisting that I’ll be able to do anything I put my mind to, you walked out the door.
You left a daughter, a son, and a wife all wondering what they did wrong. I spent years doubting my greatness and blaming myself for your absence. If my own blood could walk out the door, how could anyone else ever want me?
Abandonment is a silent death. Nobody knows that you lost someone so dear to your heart, there’s no obituary for a chosen absence. My brother and I went to school the next day with bleeding hearts and were asked to complete assignments describing our families when ours was left shattered. Nobody knew. How could they?
I am half of you, and it scares me. It scares me to think that my DNA is entangled with the decision to leave a family behind. When I look in the mirror, I see your features. I see your impulsiveness in my actions and your creativity in my art. I see your hotheadedness in my frustration and your likability in my social life. I have to see you every day, but you’re not even here.
It took me a long time to realize that you missed out. You missed a high school, college, and Master’s degree. You missed me at the beautiful rollercoasters of my highest highs and lowest lows. You missed my decision to take my experience and use it to help other people. You missed my laugh, you missed my honesty, you missed my kindness. You missed my boyfriends and my breakups. You missed me paying for my own apartments, you missed me moving to NYC, you missed me struggle, fight, survive, and thrive. You don’t know it, but you made me tough. You made me strong and resilient, and you made me rise above.
Every now and then, I still cringe at a “daddy issues” joke, but I know now that my existence is not defined through your absence. I am not doomed to a broken family, bad relationships, or searching for my worth in men. I am a whole person with dreams, goals, and a career that I built without you in the walls of my foundation.
Despite it all, I send you blessings. I send you healing and strength. Because me? I’m going to keep growing. I am going to keep basking in the gratitude that I had a mom strong enough to take on both roles. I truly hope you find what you were looking for, Dad.