An Open Letter To My Child’s Absent Father

 Sarah Graybeal
Sarah Graybeal

For so long, words have not been able to touch the way you made me feel. The anger, sadness and sorrow, self-pity, fear, and hopelessness that engulfed me for over two years. I was a shell of the woman I was when you found me, and I’m not sure you even care.

I thought you were the greatest and the love of my life. The thought of becoming your wife delighted me beyond telling and the idea of the children we would have made me so happy. Losing our first was devastating, which you already know, as was the aftermath that led to you physically battering me, and the departure of all that love we built for years. You allowed drugs and alcohol to steal you from me and that person I loved so much is gone, lost in another place. But I couldn’t stay away.

A year into nursing school to pursue my lifelong dream I had that positive test and knew that life as I knew it would never be the same. I was terrified of you finding out and what would happen; terrified of going back to a life I had tried so hard to forget. But you did find out and you told me you wanted to have a role in his life. You wanted to be the father I always knew you would be and your words gave me a seed of hope. You watered and tended to that seed so that it would grow over the next nine months.

A month before our boy was born, you were high on drugs and wandering in the Missouri January weather and your over-possessive mother was taking control. When we finally reconnected, you claimed to be sober and I told you that you could come and see the birth of your child when it was time. You, of course, did not.

So thank you.

Thank you for giving me that first in a series of huge disappointments.

Because you weren’t there for us, I spent the first night as a 21-year-old new mother alone in the hospital, terrified of what I was going to do and how to care for this precious angel, our rainbow baby. Because of your disappointment, a little bit of my heart was hardened and a piece of me chipped away. With every subsequent disappointment, I took it a little bit easier. When you didn’t call or text me because you were too busy getting high or drunk, I learned to quit expecting it.

Thank you for hitting me when I was down, and for allowing your family to.

Remember when I was stricken with postpartum depression after four weeks, and you called to tell me how fat and ugly I was? Or all those times you said you were going to take him away from me but you hadn’t even met him yet? I never forgot those times. They made me angrier and stronger and helped me protect him from you. Thank your parents for me for always ignoring us out and about in our small town, instead of trying to get to know their beautiful grandchild. Thank you for telling certain people he wasn’t yours, but telling others I was the bitch who wouldn’t let you see him.

Thank you for never giving me an ounce of support.

Remember all those times I told you I only wanted you to be there for us when we needed you? I never wanted your money, which is good because it never came. I only wanted you to answer on those late nights when I was rushing him to the hospital with a 104.5 temperature and I was alone and scared. I wanted you to text me back and say it was going to be okay when I had a screaming baby and two papers due in the morning. I wanted you to tell me I was doing a great job even though I felt like I had to work too much and still made too little and that school took up all my time. But you didn’t. You only called me at two a.m. once to tell me you hadn’t called because you owed some drug dealers some money. You claimed they might come after us. I slept great that night.

Thank you for giving me the anger I needed to turn myself into the woman I am today.

Because of you, I am strong. I got out of that horrible place and moved with our child to a place where I can be successful and he can get the best education around. Because of you, I ask questions first and trust later. I don’t allow anyone to make me a victim anymore. Because of you, I became two people for the price of one and have been the best parent he could ever ask for. Because of you, I learned what type of person was going to be worthy of my love and his too (and who isn’t).

Thank you for empowering me to never let him be hurt by your absence. He doesn’t know you exist and because of your abandonment, he never will have to until he wants to.

He will never have to know the horrible feeling of a knock on the door saying you’ve been in a DUI accident and almost killed yourself and a friend. I will never have to worry about him finding your hidden drugs or alcohol while he plays in my home. He is safe, and you are gone. He is happy, and you are not here. I’m not letting you control my happiness anymore.

Thank you for giving me the other half of the genetic material that became my boy. Thank you for passing on your dimples and facial expressions. He lights up any room he goes into. He lights up my life. The world is a better place with him in it.

Thank you. TC mark

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