"Life always offers you a second chance, it's called tomorrow...the past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited, or can only be accepted."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The letter I never sent

Since my father has been in jail (about 10 months now), I have written a million letters, and then thrown them out. He used to send me 2-3 letters at a time, at least once or twice a week. We haven’t had any contact in a few months (for a reason I will cover at a later time). But there was one letter I wrote before we broke all contact that I found today. It was mainly in response to the letters he had been sending me, and the phone calls he’d been making. I’m not sure why I kept it, but I did…and as I reread it, I could hear myself saying every word. I think it spells out a lot about the feelings that fly back in your face constantly when dealing with an addict.
                You keep asking me to write, and I really don’t understand why. I don’t know what you want or expect me to say, and I have a feeling that what I’m going to say isn’t going to make you very happy.
                Every letter you’ve sent me has had some negative comment about me, or been targeted at making me feel sorry for you. Don’t get me wrong, it hurts me very much to know you are in jail. I think about it all the time. But you did this, and I have to remember that. This isn’t anyone’s fault but your own, and while I understand that’s harsh…it’s the truth.
                Your letters make no sense and they jump all over the place. I can barely keep up. I’m going to attempt to go through each one to make sure I say all that I need to.
                One of the first letters you sent me was about your trying to commit suicide. You told me all about how you’d had it planned and how you wanted my voice to be the last thing you heard. But how dare you put that on me? You decided to take an easy way out of a situation you created, but wanted me to live with knowing I was the last person to speak to my father before he offed himself? You wanted me to question if there was something I could have said to change it? Here I was thinking that parents were supposed to be selfless when it came to their children, but that’s about the most selfish thing I’ve ever heard.
                You have a lot of serious problems, and you’re in total denial. One minute none of this is your fault, and the next it’s all your fault, and you want attention and pity. My heart hurts for you and I’m haunted daily by the fact that I can’t do anything to help you. But for my own sanity, I’ve got to stay away.
                You say that I said something about your grandchildren you’ll “never see or touch”. And yes I know that I’ve said that at some point, and I stand by that decision. I will never subject my children to this craziness and instability. I’m sure that hurts you, but I don’t say it to hurt you. I say it because I know how it affected me, and I will never let my children be put in that situation. Not that it really matter quite frankly.
                You told me that if you didn’t make it, to love on and to not hurt or last out at anyone. I think we need to get something straight. If you consider what I’ve said to you “lashing out” then so be it. But I’ve been angry for a good reason. You attacked and hurt my family, not to mention me. You put me in horrible situations, and you put me in danger. Again…some parenting. I will always love on because there is a wonderful man in my life who has taught me what love should be. He has taken care of me, been there for me, and picked me up every time I’ve fallen. That is love, not whatever you’ve created in your mind. I have an amazingly strong mother who has been there for me, and has dealt with me treating her badly when I was angry…when in reality I was mad at you. She has been there every step of the way, letting me deal with things how I needed to deal with them…and having endless patience for the entire situation.
                I’ve done a lot of changing in the last two years, and you missed almost all of it. I graduated college and then graduated high school…all at 18. Then I got engaged to my high school sweetheart after going through a 5 month separation while he was at boot camp. I helped start a program for high schoolers so they could become more involved in the community. I started coaching mock trial and I go to meetings almost every week for FA. I got my name changed the day I turned 18 because I was sick of police seeing my name and assuming I was some kind of criminal. You left a legacy that I wasn’t proud to be associated with.
                (Now the next section requires a little back story. He had heard that I had “lots of piercings and tattoos” as he put it, and told me that I “must be insane to mutilate my body”. So this was me responding  to those “concerns.”) I got my ears pierced 5 million times just because, I was 18 and I could. I actually got them pierced once just to show Ari (my little sister) that it didn’t hurt. She wanted hers done so I went first to show her there was nothing to be afraid of. I got my nose pierced for my 17th birthday just for fun. Who cares? I still carry myself well and it will heal when I want it to. I’m young, and you only live once. I have 5 tattoos, and since you’re so concerned with them, I’ll gladly explain. My first is of 4 hearts, very small and hidden. Each heart has initials in it. One for each of my younger siblings, and once for my god daughter. My second is a yellow rose for my great grandmother, who is the biggest inspiration to me. The third is on my shoulder and it says “Trust patience loyalty,” and it’s for my husband. The words to live by in any marriage, let alone as a military wife. It’s my daily reminder to keep my marriage strong at all costs. I have a purple butterfly on my foot, which is also for my god daughter, to remind me to always make smart choices so she has good footsteps to follow in. And finally I have one that I got for you. It’s cherry blossoms that go all the way down my ribcage, with the Serenity Prayer symbols in the middle of them. Serenity, courage, wisdom. That tattoo tells me with every breath I take, I can slowly deal with the situations involving you. Cherry blossoms symbolize new beginnings, and every time I take a breath, I’m working my way to a new beginning.
                Anyways, according to you, I’m ruining my life, and I’m falling apart. But on the contrary, I’ve got it almost all together. I’m sure as hell not perfect, but I do my best to achieve the “perfect” that works for my home. I have an absolutely amazing husband who treats me better than I ever thought I could be treated. I have a job that I love and that could more than support our family if I needed it to. I work 50 hours a week, I’m trying to go back to school, I still coach, I’m a wife, and a big sister. The only thing I can’t do is have my own children, but I know I’ll be a damn good mother the moment I’m given the chance. Still think I’m a horrible person? Probably…but whatever. I don’t need your approval, I never have. You will continue to think whatever you want, and thankfully…I’m learning not to care.
                By the way, I just reread another letter. You compared being mentally ill to being born with no legs. And I have to say, it’s one of the most ridiculous things I may have ever heard. You hurting people mentally and physically is why people are angry…NOT because you have problems. You could have gotten help over the years. You could have tried to stop using drugs. You CHOSE not to. And that’s one of the major differences between you and I. Despite the fact that I have problems too, PTSD…depression…etc. I work through it. I take care of my responsibilities, I work on bettering myself, and I get help. I have never turned to drugs, and I never will.
                I have been worried about you, but I’m also not going to be your parent. You’re supposed to be the parent in this situation, and it’s about time you learn to act like it. You say you needed me and I wasn’t there. But how about I’ve needed you…for over 20 years now. I needed someone who wasn’t completely insane to see my prom, my graduation (from college and high school). I needed my dad to walk me down the aisle and threaten my fiancĂ© as to how he’d better always take care of me. I could have used my dad to dance with at my reception. But more than anything…when I lost my baby boy in January, I could have used my dad there to tell me it wasn’t my fault…and that he was still proud of me. What I DIDN’T need…was 2 days after getting out of the hospital to see my father’s mugshot all over the news and internet. So the next time you “need” me…why don’t you try and remember who the “adult” is supposed to be here.
                I want to be clear…I don’t hate you, and I’m only mad sometimes. I’m trying as hard as I can to forgive you, but it’s very difficult. Part of me can’t get all of the horrible things you’ve done out of my head, and part of me physically hurts because you’re stuck in jail. It hurts deeper than I ever thought it would  to think of you in there. And that’s a burden I never imagined having to carry.
                You say you’re sorry the pressure falls on me…but you’re not. The pressure has always been on me…since I was a kid. On the plus side, it’s made me an incredibly strong and determined person. I can (and do) take care of everyone in my life. I can’t help you. I don’t have any magical solutions to your problems, and I’m not going to kill myself over trying to find one. I have too many other things going on in my life that are much healthier to deal with.
                Your letter said you need someone to live for, so live for yourself. You can’t be there for anyone else until you’re somewhat stable. And right now, you’re nowhere near stable. As much as I miss listening to you play your guitar, the new lyrics you sent me haunt my thoughts. You need a lot of help…and if you feel like you have to live for someone else…get help for me.
                You can’t be my dad…it’s far too late for that. Too many missed memories, and too many nights I spent crying over you. And honestly, I don’t think it’s healthy for you to be there for the other kids. They don’t know you, and they have plenty of other people to care for them. You coming around unstable would just confuse them. It’s not fair and if you truly care, you won’t do that to them. I don’t need a father anymore, I’ve learned to take care of myself. I’m sorry if that’s not the answer you wanted.
                There is a song by Kelly Clarkson called “Because of You.” You should look it up. I used to be afraid of everything, but I’m finally getting past that. Not everyone is out to hurt me (or you), and this world is a very beautiful place if you let it be.
                I’m sorry that you think I’m such a horrible person for not wanting a relationship with you. But you have to realize that you have a very different version of my childhood in your head than what the reality was. I’m not bitter anymore, it’s just the truth. I have to protect myself and I have to be able to start to move on from it all.
                You don’t need to worry about me. My (our) past has taught me a lot. And though it’s made my life really difficult…I don’t think I’d change it. I wouldn’t have all that I do today without my past experiences, and I wouldn’t be able to help so many people.
                I will probably never convince you that I’m doing well. I’m not nearly as good as manipulating people as you are. It’d really be a shame if people took you seriously, and believed the things you say about me. But I’m not going to let it bother me anymore. You will think whatever you want to think, as will everyone else.
                I love you very much despite everything you’ve done, and nothing will ever change that. No matter how angry I am, I will always care and will always be affected by the decisions you make. But you will not run my life anymore. I have planned my life around your actions for a very long time, but I will not put myself through it anymore. I have a life to live now, and other people that are there every day that need my attention.
                I’m not sure what hurts me more, the fact that you don’t seem to have any idea all the wonderful things I’ve done, or that you think I’m a horrible person who is intentionally trying to hurt you. I’m not trying to hurt anyone, that’s just not in my nature. I’m trying to protect people. Myself especially. Haven’t I been through enough over the years?
                I’m sorry I can’t fix you, I’m sorry I can’t be what you need. I wish I could. I’d love to make this all go away, but I can’t. I don’t want to hear excuses anymore, and I don’t want to hear you badmouth other people. The decisions you’ve made put you where you are. And although I don’t want you to be there, I know you need to be. You’ve got a lot of problems that make you dangerous to yourself and others.
                You wrote me suicide letters, and talked about the other kids. You act like you care so much, but you need to think about something. If you kill yourself…what are you telling them? What message are you trying to send?
                You have a lot to think about and consider. You could attempt to get off on what you did in court, you could commit suicide and take the easy way out. And all that your children will know when they grow up is that you were a coward. They will think it’s ok to take the easy way out of problems. Or…you could stick this out. Admit to what you’ve done, and spend your time in jail in therapy or rehab, work at making things better. What an amazing message to send. “Hey kids, everyone screws up, and I did big time…but you can always make the best of things and attempt to turn things around.” So all I can really ask now…is which person are you? Show me who my dad is…instead of spinning me lies. Because as of right now…I have no idea who you are. ***
The letter was all over place, and I see that now more than I did when I was writing it. Some of it doesn’t make sense when you haven’t read the letters he sent first. But the overall idea…and almost frantic sound of my writing shows the state of mind I was in. I still have days like that, where my emotions and thoughts are all over the place…but they are becoming fewer and farther between. I’m slowly working my way to recovery. But just like an addict…I will never be “fully recovered.” This is a lifestyle change you have to work every day for the rest of your life…and you’re always still in recovery.

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