An Open Letter To My Father

I was four years old and two weeks into starting school. My mum told me that I used to get so overwhelmed with excitement for school that I would jump up and down until I started crying; if only that enthusiasm could resurface as an undergrad. All I know from this time comes from snippets told to me by Mum, I have tried my best to piece it all together in my mind but so much still seems unclear.

That night Mum came home from aerobics as she did every Monday; you had your bags packed. “It’s just not working” you said as you walked out of our lives. You said you were going to live with a friend when really you were going to live with her. I cannot imagine the pain she would have felt when you left that day, leaving her with a part-time job, two children aged four and six and a mortgage to pay with no financial support. But as I now know you better, I see that collateral damage is not something you concern yourself with.

You attempted to be father for a while, picking me up from Brownies and getting me ice-cream; only to come home and having a screaming match with Mum on the front porch. I recall once I pushed you apart begging you to stop, I was shouted at to get in the house. I was only small yet so painfully aware of my own mothers mental decline and the hurt this was causing her. Eventually the visits stopped. Then so did the birthday presents and even cards (signed from you and your new wife).

 This year was the first time you haven’t at least texted me ‘Happy Birthday Annabel, I love you’. I am not even sure you know where I am at University but I do not think you care.

Our most recent interaction, I am almost certain, will be our last. Charlie and I met you at the Albion in Ampthill, a small town drinkers pub which was an almost comedic setting considering the Eastenders-esque drama that followed. Armed with divorce court transcripts and a decade of pent up anger we told you that we didn’t really want to meet up for a pint. We were there to arrange monthly payments for us both whilst at University as agreed in the court order that I now knew like the back of my hand. I wasn’t willing to walk away from the situation with nothing, but still you refused to give us a single penny due to you not having the money, despite the 2019 plate Mercedes you had parked outside. You told me you were “disappointed and hurt” and that we had “deceived you” which was highly amusing, considering the way you had destroyed our family over these past 17 years. I told you that we didn’t owe you anything, you were lucky we met you in person rather than via a solicitor. You seemed uncomfortable; I felt powerful.

You see for years we had to pretend to like you. I would force myself to send you Father’s Day messages which made me feel sick, all so you would pay Mum when you were meant to so we wouldn’t lose the house. But I had grown so weary of this and I wanted to regain power over you and the whole situation. I could tell you were scared of me and of my intellect which far outweighed your own. I told you how much I hated you, how vile, cowardly and manipulative you really were. I spoke with eloquence and pace and this intimidated you. You do not know me and I will never give you the pleasure of doing so. I know this because if you did know me you would not have behaved in the way you did. I am not a person who forgives very easily; I hold grudges, I am bitter, angry and spiteful and you made me this way.

But I am also loving, passionate and kind and my mother made me this way. She is god’s gift to me and nothing I ever say or do could ever match up to the grace and dignity with which she carries herself through life – as unkind to her as it may be. I envy her ability to love with such fervor and the way she lights up a room with her every move. She has a passion for life that radiates to everyone around her, so much so that it becomes addictive. People hang off every word she speaks and laugh at every joke she makes and I am so in awe of the way she entices everyone she meets. Her beauty astounds me more and more every day. But she will never see that in herself. Deep down she is sad. She has been broken, beaten down and her kindness been taken advantage of; it makes me sick with sadness.

I am not angry with what you have done to me. I am angry with what you have done to her, more angry than I could ever put into words.

I am unsure as to why I wrote this. It is Sunday 24th November 2019, it is raining, I am crying and I should be revising for an exam on Wednesday but this feels oddly therapeutic.

I know that nothing I have written here will resonate with you; you live in denial and repressed shame. I used to be so angry about the fact that you could never take responsibility for your actions, I could tell you genuinely believed you did nothing wrong and I wanted you to feel bad for once. I have grown up a bit now and I see that I am not able to make you see yourself as I do, but that is ok – I am slowly coming to terms with that.

As long as I have Mum and Charlie, I am content.

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