An Open letter to my dad

I had originally written this back in May, after a particularly shitty family dinner trying to vent some anger. I never published the post and kept it private, but given recent events, I’ve resurrected it to reflect some of the things I’d like to say to him, but can’t. I was going to edit it, but it is honestly still pretty much all still applicable. I’m just going to add a post script at the bottom.

Dear Daddy…

Stop being such a dick.

I love you and Mom loves you and Princess Punk loves you and The Peach loves you and even The Zen Master loves you.

So why are you such an asshole to us?

I realize you have some kind of problem demonstrating love to the people you care about. But you could give us a little bit. It’s getting to the point where I actually dread going there for family dinners or anything because you will inevitably say something mean or just be generally pissy to me or someone I care about. You’ve made me cry. You’ve made Princess Punk cry. And you’ve made Mom cry. A lot. You even pissed of The Zen Master (no small feat) when you went on for 20 minutes about how disrespectful and what a pain in the ass Princess Punk is and how you didn’t really want to spend time with her and as a matter of fact, you didn’t really want her around at all. When she was sitting 10 feet away.

She’s just a kid. That shit hurts. I know.

Would it kill you to say, “I love you?”

Do you have some sort of disease that would start devouring your muscle tissue if you uttered that short sequence of vowels and consonants?

I grew up with you being a shit to me and Mom. I’m sure it wasn’t all the time, but when I’m upset with you, like I am right now, it feels like it was. Yet, I still spend way too much of my precious mental capacity trying to make you proud of me, wondering how you feel, what’s wrong, who made you mad this time… To no avail. I was never smart enough, sensible enough, accomplished enough, clean enough or sorry enough for what a failure I was. Looking back, I wonder if some of the reason I gave up playing an instrument or playing sports or trying at school was because I just wanted you to notice me. And since I could never be good enough, at least you’d pay some kind of attention when I failed you. All I ever wanted was to make you proud of me. And It was impossible. So I just… gave up.

And Mom? You have always blamed her for her illness. Something she can’t help. And because you have done that for as long as I can remember, she hides. Shoves it down into a teeny tiny place and covers it with whatever numbs the pain until it becomes too much and she gets completely overtaken. And you have made her worse. Yes. You. You have made her disease more difficult to combat. Because when she’s feeling like shit and is lost in the deep dark rabbit hole of depression, you can’t give her a hug and tell her you’re there for her or, God forbid, that you love her. No. Instead you tell me (when I suggest showing your wife some affection might actually make her feel better), that “it’s like talking to a brick wall.” No. You’re the brick wall. And we’re all just sad little birds who keep flying into you top speed and going ~SPLAT~.

And I always marveled at how wonderful you are with everyone else. You are friendly and jovial and you will sit and have lengthy conversations with people you just met. While sitting next to your wife. Who you’ve said about 3 words to in the past week. And they weren’t nice words either.

Listen, please don’t take this as an assault or me telling you I hate you or anything like that. Because I don’t. I love you very much. And this letter is making it sound like there’s been nothing but bad. Which isn’t at all true. You’re funny and silly and kind and pretty much the smartest person I know. I will never hear “Hotel California” without remembering laying on my stomach on that ugly orange and brown shag carpet in the basement in Coventry and listening to you play bass along with the track. Even though it’s completely gross, I was okay with you grabbing Mom’s boobs at the table because it was good to see that after 35 years of marriage, you still wanted to do that. I can still hear you teaching Princess Punk how to harmonize with The Indigo Girls. I remember the first time I saw you cry, when Uncle Johnny died. You weren’t crying because of him, but rather, you cried because I did. Because I saw Grandma stricken with grief and I told you and you said that a parent should never outlive their child. And we cried together. And the first time you held Princess Punk. And the first time you held The Peach. And when you gave me away at my wedding. And how, for the first brief and fleeting time, I knew you were proud of me when I (finally) graduated from college. And when I lost the weight.

And I know you have your own demons to deal with. Whatever they might be. You never let us in, so I really don’t know. And I wish I could have helped you. But I couldn’t. But honestly? And I’m being painfully honest here as you can see… Honestly? I think you need to get your head out of your ass. You need to realize that although you are stressed about work and finances and health and the house and whatever else, you need to take a step back and remember why you are stressed about all that. Because I know. The reason you stress about money and work and the house is because you have to keep everything moving. You have to take care of us (well now, mostly just you and Mom). And it’s because you love us, I know it is. But you need to remember that sometimes, we’d rather be homeless with a hug than isolated with a roof.

I’m sorry I had to say all that, and I’m sure that if you read this, you will be mad and not speak to me for months. But I had to get it off my chest. Because Mom is really really hurting. And you need to step up.

I love you, and we need you. We all need you.

K

PS…

So I have no idea if you will ever read this given what has now happened. And I don’t know if things will ever be remotely ok between us again. Because I know, that although this is your doing, you will never see it that way. You will always blame me for what happened. You will always blame me for Mom leaving. You will always think that I won in the battle over her that only ever existed in your own head. And I’m sorry about that. I’m not sorry because I’m taking responsibility. I know that things were said that couldn’t be taken back. I know that I fought with you and I was angry, but I will not take responsibility for you choking me until I couldn’t breathe. For punching me in my recently surgically repaired jaw. For hitting me so hard that I hit the ground like a felled tree in the forest. For doing all of this in front of your granddaughters while Princess Punk screamed hysterically, “PLEASE STOP! You’re killing her!”

No, I’m not sorry for that. I’m sorry because I lost my Daddy. I’m sorry that after 30-something years of marriage, my parents are getting a divorce. I’m sorry that My Mom is afraid to be alone in a room with you. I’m sorry that you can’t understand that you’re not being fair to her with the settlement. I’m sorry that I can’t talk to R&B anymore because I don’t want them to feel like they have to pick sides. I’m sorry that Crazy Girl feels awkward when she sees you out with the band. I’m sorry that you took down my pictures in your house.

Even after all that happened, all that you did to me, in front of your wife, in front of my children, I still love you. And the last thing you said to me, before you literally threw me out of your front door onto the porch was, “Go ahead… Tell me you hate me… Tell me you hate me like you’ve always hated me.”  It may be the last thing you ever say to me. And you know what? That hurts more than anything. More than any of the other awful things you said. More than any punch, slap, kick or poke. Because I have NEVER hated you. Never. Sometimes, maybe I didn’t like you so much, but hate? Not a chance. And the fact that you couldn’t see that, that you couldn’t see that you have always been the one person in my life that I wanted to make happy, the one person who I looked up to more than any other, the one person who I wanted…. NO… Needed to make proud? That killed a part of me. Something inside my heart died that day. Because you clearly never understood. That I love you.

And I will always love you.

K

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