For as long as I can remember, I’ve tried to pretend I’m okay with not having you around, but this was a carefully orchestrated coping mechanism.
If I truly allowed myself to think about you, it was just too painful.
I’ve spent the better part of 23 years wondering why you don’t love me. After all, your parents are supposed to be the two people who love you automatically and unconditionally, but you seem to have forgotten I exist and are content without your first-born daughter in your life.
Your actions made me feel like there is something wrong with me at my core, which resulted in being rejected by the one man who is supposed to love me from the start.
You have no idea how many times I wished you were there. Every Father’s Day, every time I won an award in school or had a major life event, part of me was always hoping you’d be there.
I joined basketball, soccer and cricket teams as a child – even though I hated all of them – because I knew you liked sport and I was desperate for something to share with you. But it wasn’t enough. I remember craning my neck at my highschool graduation because I foolishly believed you’d make an appearance. But you didn’t.
I’ve had an aching hole in my heart for 23 years. I’ve had to watch you be loving towards your three other children and wonder why you love them more than you love me. I’ve developed extreme abandonment issues and I’m terrified everyone I love is going to end up leaving me like you did. I’ve suffered severe depression since I was a teenager because I believe I’m broken, unlovable, disposable and replaceable. Because to you – my father – I am all of those things.
Against my better judgment, I’ve always held out hope you’d come around; wishing that one day you’d suddenly want to be a key part of my life and show me the love I so desperately craved. Even when I got older and built up a hard exterior when it came to you, telling people I didn’t even want anything to do with you, inside I was still heartbroken. I would have given anything to have received love from you. As much as I hated it, in my heart I was still a three year-old girl who wanted her dad to hug her and tell her he loved her.
I wish I was angry at you (and please understand that for years, I was extremely angry at you), but now I’m just tired. I’m tired of thinking there is something inherently wrong with me because you don’t love me and don’t want me in your life.
I’m tired of asking your sisters how you are when I see them just so I can have some kind of distant connection with you and know what you’re doing in your life when I don’t think you’d ever asked them what I am up to. Because I know now – you don’t care.
When people hear I have an estranged relationship with my father, they assume you or I moved far away when I was a child. They are shocked to their core when I tell them we lived in the same town until I graduated highschool.
I know you stopped wanting to see me when the relationship between yourself and my mother broke down. I know break-ups can get ugly and people are hard and painful to deal with, but I was your daughter, and you should have fought for me. Beyond childhood, once I grew up and into my own person and you no longer had to have any contact with my mother if you wanted to see me, why didn’t you try?
I did. I tried.
I reached out at least three times throughout my teens to try and repair and build a relationship with you, but was met with stoic silence and resistance. I was the child and you were the adult. It wasn’t my job to chase you to form a bond when I was a toddler when you were the one who chose to abandon me and forget I existed.
Instead of toughing up and confronting a hard situation for the sake of your child, you were a coward and you chose to run away.
You’re my father, and you’ve made me feel like I’m replaceable and unloveable. I’ve carried those feelings my entire life and I don’t think I’ll ever forgive you for it.
So I hereby revoke your right to call yourself my father because the title holds responsibilities you never fulfilled. As far as I’m concerned, you have three children, not four. You no longer have the privilege of saying you’re my dad.
And I’m not bitter about it anymore.
I’ve reached a place where I know if you can’t see what an amazing woman I’ve grown into being and don’t want me as your daughter, then that’s your loss.
In your place, I have deep and meaningful relationships with your sisters and your mother, who have loved me like a daughter more intensely than I could have ever hoped. I don’t need you when I have warm people like them to take your place and fill the hole you’ve put in my life and in my heart.
Even though you will never acknowledge it, my mother stepped up and took on your role. Our relationship is twice as strong as it would be if you had have been around. I couldn’t be more proud of her, and more proud of myself for having to harden at a young age and still achieve what I’ve achieved.
Not having you in my life has made me strong, resilient and powerful. Not having you around hasn’t stopped me from chasing my dreams, loving fiercely, or achieving my goals. I’ve grown into an intelligent, funny, charismatic and kind woman. I’m who I am today in spite of not having a dad.
And I know you’ll look back on your life one day and feel guilt and regret you didn’t get to experience what it’s like to have me as a daughter, or how my life would’ve been different, if you’d been in it. And maybe what will hurt you the most of all to learn about me one day, is that actually I never needed you at all.
Because, Dad, I did just fine without you.
This post originally appeared on SHESAID.