Today I wrote the most beautiful thing I have ever written, but I don’t know if anyone will read it. It had raw passion and emotion. Sentence fragments in the perfect locations. Flawless segues and stunning vocabulary. But I don’t think anyone will read it because it was a letter to my dad.
I haven’t spoken with my father for about 18 years. Not since the day I told child services what he did to me. But there’s a catch to this story I didn’t learn until recently, and it’s a good one.
My mother and father got a divorce when I was 5. He had anger problems and was an alcoholic. I would remember hiding under my mom’s desk upstairs when he was angry. As a tiny little thing, a big bumbling angry man is terrifying. One time I woke him up because I had a nightmare and he grabbed me, choked me. But when he came to, he embraced me and kissed me and told me how sorry he was. Naturally, he was just a violent man.
I also have regular memories. At church, being excited to see his head pop around the corner. I would run to him with my arms up high, pleading to go on his shoulders. He was so tall, I loved being tall, too. One morning he was braiding my hair and I cried because he “hurt my hair”. He turned me around, smiling, and took a big bite out of one pigtail. He asked if that hurt, I said no. And that was when I learned it was my head that was sensitive, not my hair.
Gifts on Christmas, driving around looking at lights. Scrambled eggs in the morning when we stayed at his apartment. Regular dad memories. Until I was twelve and had a nightmare.
My nightmare almost felt real, it was terrifying. I woke up almost hyperventilating. In my dream, my father had molested me in the bath tub. It was so scary I went to my sister, and I confided in her. And she told me that it wasn’t just a dream. It was a suppressed memory.
She told me stories of how he would do things like that all of the time, she would get it the worst because she was older and was trying to protect me. In that moment, at twelve years old, I became a victim of sexual assault. I became a victim of a pedophile. And that really rocked my world.
How can you trust anyone when the one man in your life who is supposed to love and protect you doesn’t do either of those things? How are you supposed to live your life normal knowing that at such an early age you were just an object. I became depressed and started thinking about suicide. At twelve years old.
My mother found a butcher knife in my dresser. She would go through my room often, wondering what had changed about me. I was her perfect angel, and I had turned into what she liked to call, “a poster child for birth control.” Which every child wants to hear from their mother.
She sent me to a children’s mental hospital for three days. I remember going there in the ambulance, and being scared because it was surrounded by barbed wire. I brought my teddy bear that had potpourri in the head because it calmed me, but they took it away when they saw it had a ribbon around its neck.
They talked to me, asked me why I had the knife. I told them I wasn’t going to use it, of course. Just thought about it. They “counseled” me for a few days. Coloring and watching movies, then eventually my mom came back and took me home.
My depression wasn’t gone and mom could tell. She started taking me to the psychiatrist and psychologist. They would give me new meds every few months, wait to see if I got better, and when I didn’t they would prescribe me something new. During all of this time, I am also hitting puberty. Not only is my brain going insane naturally, the medicine trying to balance me out didn’t help.
After about the third therapist, they pulled it out of me. I didn’t want to tell anyone because it was mine. My problem. My secret. But they got it out of me, and eventually pulled my mom in. When I told her, I could see the world crumble in her eyes, and flood out of her tear ducts. She was just as broken as I was then.
I wanted it to be over at this point. I wanted to sweep it under the rug, something I learned how to do well in my family. But they kept persisting. Social services came to my school, and then my house. And saying the words over and over felt disgusting. I wanted it to stop.
Finally, they left. I stayed in my room most days playing video games. Since childhood, my pastime has been writing and playing video games. So I would write terrible poetry in my downs, and my less intense downs were filled with video games. The only things that made me happy.
My sister just left one day. She was gone. I was left alone in a house with a mother who didn’t know how to handle me. I was confused in how to feel. I was a victim and I was powerless. And the worst part about it all was that I was alone.
I would also cut myself, of course. In stupid places at first. I would carve words into my arms that say things like “Worthless” and “Failure”, having to cover them in ace bandages. People would ask what happened, and I would lie and say that my cat got me good or I fell learning how to skateboard. Eventually, I learned to do it in small places on my wrist I can cover with an armband, and then eventually just my thighs. I never wore shorts because I was always made fun of for how pale I was, so it was perfect.
My father used to send letters with his child support. I would read them and then call him and talk about what he wrote and what was going on in my life. After child services left, the next letter in the mail was a blank piece of paper. He was done talking to us. And we were glad.
I would cower in the corner at gym class outside, scared he would be coming for me. As I got older, I started looking through crowds for his face. Both relieved I didn’t see him, and disappointed. I was in marching band all through high school, and even though what he did to me was unforgivable, I couldn’t help but wish just one time he would show up. Just once
I tried to kill myself several times. Each time getting sent to get my stomach pumped or to drink that nasty charcoal that makes you throw up and poop black for a month. I had no value in myself. I chased every guy who smiled at me but never giving up my virginity. Because I could still hold on to it. It was special to me.
After high school, I fell into a drug problem. It was a terrible boyfriend problem, as well, but I call it my drug phase. Painkillers were my Achilles heel, and I would do anything to get them. I was stealing, lying and whatever I could do to get my fix. Anything to escape this world I lived in. Until I eventually went to jail for long enough to get clean. I ruined relationships, I ruined my life with a felony record, and I was still a broken girl with daddy issues.
Lately, I have been getting my life together. I have been clean for four years, and I haven’t cut myself in two. I have a job where I manage a café, I free-lance write articles and design websites. I’m building my own business and it is happening for me. I am working so hard building relationships and trying to be the best person I can be. And I am falling in love with myself.
I love who I am today. I am strong and empathetic and understanding and quirky. I forget to take pictures on vacation because I’m too in the moment, and I find a silver lining in almost every situation. The strongest thing I have in my blood above all else is hope. And that has been picking at me.
My sister came back into our lives several years ago. She came with a husband one Thanksgiving, which was weird. I didn’t really know who she was. My sister was a shy, timid, soft creature. This person was bubbly, eccentric and goofy. But I adapted.
This last year I started noticing something. I started to think she may have a lying problem. I would notice little things here and there, but nothing I could prove. I asked her one day about why she left me. I told her how abandoned I felt, and she said mom kicked her out. And I hated mom for that. I hated her so much for taking my lifeline away.
I hated her until recently. When she told me she never kicked my sister out. How she would call her all the time begging her to come home or at least tell her where she was. And that confirmed my fear, my sister was a liar.
This fear was harboring inside of me because, for several years, I have wondered if what happened to me actually happened. But it had to, I didn’t go through that adolescence for nothing. And I think that the tough times that information brought was the reason I would tell myself it was true. But the more I thought about it, the less it made sense.
Of course, my memories could be suppressed. That happens. But I literally have no memories except a memory of a dream. Not the memory the dream refers to, just the dream. And all I said was “that hurts”. But I have all these other memories of him. And the fact that I was told by a 17-year-old pathological liar who likes to victimize herself for attention, makes me think it never happened.
I want you to just take this in for a second. My entire life of suffering was because of a lie. I am covered in scars over a lie. I have missing memories from my drug problem that sprouted from a lie. I have a felony that sprouted from a lie. I went to mental institutions and was put in rooms with actual insane people because of a lie. I lost my childhood, my adolescence, and early adulthood to a lie.
And I wasn’t the only one who suffered.
My father must have had problems at home. I know people cut off connections from him, because who would do that to their daughter? And who lies about that? Well, apparently, I do. On accident.
So, I wrote a letter. I wrote a letter saying how I don’t believe that what I said was the truth. I wrote about how I didn’t do it maliciously, that I also suffered in this situation. I lost my father, and I lost me. I wrote about memories, the good and the bad. None of them being the fabricated one. It was passionate, and it was heartfelt.
But if it was me. And I saw my name on an envelope. I wouldn’t even open it.
I won’t be surprised if the most beautiful thing I have ever written, will never be read.