What I'd Really Like to Tell My Estranged Dad on Father's Day
Dear Sperm Donor,
I hope this note finds you well. Actually that’s not true. I’m completely indifferent to how this note finds you. In fact, I’m kind of annoyed that I still pay attention to the Hallmark holiday that is Fathers Day. It’s fine for folks who truly want to celebrate Dad, but for me, it’s an annual painful reminder after 45 years on this planet that I haven’t known a father since I was 3 years old.
Being a father is not about biology. Anyone can have unprotected sex and get a woman they just met at a bar pregnant… yes, I know about that. But being a dad takes commitment, sacrifice and a desire to put the needs of someone ahead of your own, something I am not sure you ever wanted or were capable of.
Don’t get me wrong, I know it takes two to tango. I understand my mother was promiscuous and irresponsible. I’m sure she convinced you once she was pregnant that marrying her was the “honorable” thing to do. I also know that on your wedding day she had already decided that if things didn’t work out she’d divorce you because all she really wanted was to have a baby who would love her unconditionally and be her best friend. That was super selfish on her part and I don’t for a second give her a pass for making that decision on all our behalf’s.
I also am well aware that my mother is a very difficult woman to live with. She is volatile and can be overwhelming at times, toxic even. I cannot imagine what the three years you spent together were like. Frankly, I have the utmost empathy for you for having to put up with her. And I know that she deliberately threw you under a bus after you divorced, making you out to be some kind of uncaring monster who never really wanted children and who pretended to feign some semblance of sadness when you lost your family and child. I’m not so delusional that I believe she was the victim and you were the only one at fault.
But… you knew a but was coming… I’m still angry with you. I’m angry that you gave up on me. I’m angry that you didn’t fight harder to keep me in your life. And most of all, I’m angry that I was robbed of having the loving daddy every little girl deserves to have in her life to idolize and keep her safe. I’m also hurt. It hurts to think that anything or anyone would stand in the way of you trying to assert your rightful presence in my life. You made a choice to not put me first. You chose to not be a father. You chose to leave me in a dangerous and toxic environment where I was left to protect myself and be the pseudo spouse to my insecure and immature mother. I didn’t ask to be born or to occupy those roles. They were forced on me by your absence and for that I resent the hell out of you.
Even so, I can understand how it was easier to take the route you did in life. I get it. Really I do. But it’s hard not to wonder how things might have turned out differently for me if you had been there. Would I have been sexually abused by my step-grandfather? Would I have been bullied so mercilessly in school? Would I have been so enmeshed with and parentified by my mother? Would I have felt like I deserved to take up space and have my needs met? That seems like I’m placing a lot on your proverbial shoulders, but frankly, that’s what daddies do for their little girls. They protect them, make them feel loved, give them a sense of being special and help them develop a sense of autonomy and identity.
You dropped the ball big time. In fact, it’s like a Disco ball that shattered into a million pieces and I’m now trying to piece those sharp edged mirrored daggers together into some semblance of wholeness week by week with the help of my therapist. Together we try to figure out where each fragment belongs and how to make something beautiful out of a complete mess. It is an art project I didn’t ask to create but am intent upon completing.
I don’t know if you ever think about me or wonder how I’m doing. I know you have knowledge of what I do and where I live, but not who I am and what I stand for. This makes me feel sorry for you. No thanks to you, I think I’ve turned into a pretty good person. Yes, I’ve accomplished things. Yes, I’ve been married for 23 years. Yes, I’m a relatively healthy, functioning adult. But those aren’t the things I’m most proud of.
I am a flawed human being who lives life with a mental illness. I advocate for others who have been traumatized and who are doing the hard work of healing from their trauma. I support friends and their kids in an attempt at sparing them the hell of childhood sexual abuse. I am a chef, a writer, an artist. I am a wife, an aunt, a friend and the proudest furr mommy to my beautiful Siamese cat. I am smart, funny, curious, honest, trustworthy and dedicated. I am so many things you will never know, because even if you showed up at my front door tomorrow, I wouldn’t want to share any of who I am with you. That ship has sailed and has sunk to the bottom of the ocean of life.
Just today I was contemplating the fact that at some point in the not too distant future I will be made aware of your death. I wonder how I will feel? Happy? Relieved? Sad? I honestly don’t know… and that scares me a little. But what scares me the most is what is the most likely… I will feel nothing. Your presence or absence on this planet won’t matter any more than that of anyone else’s. I will feel sympathy for your wife and anyone else who cared about you, but that’s it.
Dear Sperm Donor. Thank you for your donation. Thank you for teaching me what love isn’t. Thank you for showing me how not to be a husband or father. Thank you… for nothing.
Sincere…Best Wis…Lov…Take ca…Respectful…Nothing,
Father’s Day can be hard for those who don’t have a relationship with their fathers. If you can relate to Monika’s story, or have words of encouragement to share, let her know in the comments below.
Unsplash image via Marcin Jozwiak