I am writing this on the 9th anniversary of your death, October 18th, 2018. I shed a few tears for you, as I do every year around this time. I guess I get nostalgic around this time, just as I do around the holidays, missing the few good times we did have and thinking of what could have been.
I never got the chance to tell you while you were alive, the impact that your alcoholism and absenteeism had on me. No, I do not hold you solely responsible for the abuse. I do however; feel that by allowing your 2nd wife to make me share a room with boys, while she gave my bedroom to her daughter, somehow played a part. Why didn’t you speak up and say it was not appropriate? Why couldn’t you have paid closer attention to what was going on infront of your very own eyes? Did you know and just not say anything? I was always very conflicted about your feelings for me.
Throughout much of my life, I never really saw you. Usually when I did, I had to watch you and your 2nd wife get pissed faced and spew obscenities about my mother, that no child should ever have to hear. The emotional abuse that I suffered through the hands of you and your wife throughout my childhood were unacceptable and very hurtful. Had you cared enough and looked closer, you would have seen a very vulnerable and scared little girl. You even had the nerve to blame me for you threatening to kill my mom in one of your drunken rages. Remember that? You called her first and warned her that you were coming to get her. You grabbed your rifle and was about to head to her house, but the cops showed up just in time and arrested you. You and your wife would get drunk and blame me for that for years, that was whenever I saw you… Dad, the truth of the matter, is that no one was responsible for that night, or any of your actions, but you.
I watched your alcoholism and your wife’s alcoholism destroy everything you worked hard for. It was sad, to be honest, and why I was ok with the distance, so I didn’t have to witness it. Lets be honest, you really spiralled out of control when you met this woman in a bar one night and moved her into our home immediately. Your alcoholism became progressively worse, because now you had a partner who shared your love of booze and you were both extremely toxic people when you were drinking.
Remember that time as a little girl, around the time my abuse began, I ran away from your house? I didn’t even know how to get to my mom’s house by myself, but I just walked and walked, for what seemed like hours. I was literally minutes from my mom’s house, I could see it in the distance, then you found me. I assume someone had woken you from your hangover sleep and you were angry and determined not to let my mom have me. I remember crying so hard, devastated, because I just wanted my mom. I just wanted to feel safe and loved and away from the nightmare of your house. Why didn’t you ask me was I ok? Why didn’t you just talk to me? I never did understand why we never held a sensible, sober conversation my entire life.
The bond between a father and a daughter is supposed to be unbreakable. If you thought being a good father was bouncing me on your knee, singing Jennifer Juniper, while sucking back a beer and blowing smoke in my face, you really didn’t get the memo. I understand your childhood wasn’t so great either, but why repeat the vicious cycle?
I could go on and on about your sucky parenting, but the fact of the matter is this…what would it solve? It won’t change what has happened, nor will it do me any good to carry anger in my heart towards you. So I have forgiven you. You knew that I loved you because I told you so on your deathbed. Even through everything, I didn’t want you to die alone and I wanted you to know that you were loved.
Not long before I moved out of Newfoundland, I visited your grave at the suggestion of my therapist, armed with a three page handwritten letter. Only four people knew that I did that. My therapist, my husband, you and my grandfather that lay beside you in that grave. I read you that letter, you remember, don’t you? It detailed the sexual abuse I endured and the anger that I held towards you, for simply ignoring me. I blamed you for not protecting me, like a dad should protect his little girl and for being a poor disgrace of a father. My view of men became so morphed, that it drove me into toxic and abusive relationships. Then, when I was finished reading that letter, I forgave you, told you that I loved you and burned that letter at your grave. You see, I finally reconciled with the fact that you were fighting your own internal battles and it was evident that you carried that negative energy with you for much of your short life.
Thankfully, I have been released of my burdens and I no longer have that unhealthy perception of men. I have a wonderful son and I teach him to be the man you were unfortunately not. Despite everything that happened in the past, it is simply that, the past. You will always be my dad and I truly hope that you are in a better place.
Love your only daughter,