To My Biological Father

Does it ever bother you that I no longer consider you my dad? That I post letters like the one I posted here on October 12 to the man I do consider to be my dad? I hope it does.

You wrought so much damage on the lives of so many people. I am not sure I can even put it into words.

Have you heard the new song by Eminem and Rihanna about domestic violence? In case not, you can read the lyrics here: http://www.metrolyrics.com/love-the-way-you-lie-lyrics-eminem.html

Because of you, I am a product of the kind of domestic violence described in this song. Because of you, I can in a weird and crazy way identify with Rihanna singing that she likes the way it hurts. Maybe I didn’t like the way your abuse of us hurt, but it sure felt as normal as it seems to feel to her when she sings about it.

My sister and brother and I all grew up believing that all families lived the way we did. That children cowered in fear when the father was angry. That everyone in the house tiptoed around his moods, careful to never do or say anything that might trigger an explosion.

We grew up believing it was normal for fathers to hit their wives and their children. To spank unmercifully with a belt buckle. To hold us hostage at gunpoint. To pick us up by our hair and throw us across the room. Do you even remember that? I couldn’t have been more than 7 years old, because I remember it as clear as day. We moved out of that house when I was 7, so I had to be that or younger. You had a cast on your arm, but you still managed the strength to throw me across the room by my hair. My stepdaughter is 7, and I look at her and I cannot even wrap my brain around how someone does something like that to a child.

Do you remember burning me with matches? I do. My best friend who witnessed it remembers it too, and though she doesn’t carry any physical scars from you she does carry psychological scars from what she saw in our home. What you did affected not only the members of your family, you messed her up too.

Do you know as an adult I can’t bear to see or hear anything about animals being hurt? A few months ago I saw an injured pigeon in a parking lot and it ruined my whole day. I cried for almost an hour. I couldn’t even drive I was so hysterical, feeling so bad for it. Seeing images or news stories about hurt animals literally makes me physically ill, and I hurt in a deep and dark way whenever I happen across anything about it. Do you know this is because of you, and how you treated Fudge? How you treated Penny and Jake, Stonewall, and yes, even Pepper, the all-revered favorite cat? I want to die when I think about you mistreating Fudge. Even now, probably 30 years later, it gives me a terrible angst and anxiety and deep, untouchable hurt for him. I can’t believe you would do those things to a helpless animal so much smaller than you.

You molested my sister. You irrevocably changed the rest of her life when you did that, and not for the better.

Do you know she sacrificed herself to save me from your perverted attentions? That she finally got the courage to tell (because you’d been telling her for years you would kill us all if she told, and we all know you were capable of that) because she was worried about you touching me? Can you fathom how much guilt I have that it happened to her, and yet she saved it from happening to me?

Do you know in my first marriage I married a man almost exactly like you? Except he used words instead of fists to wound. But I learned from him it was just as damaging. Sometimes even more so, because bruises go away, but hurtful words will never stop echoing in your head.

I have had a lot of therapy to work on the damage you wrought. I forgave you a long time ago, but I will never be capable of forgetting what you did. Honestly, I don’t even remember a lot of it…even with all the terrible memories that I do have, I know there is so much more that my brain is hiding from me. Your actions all those years ago continue to reverberate even now. Every time I hear that Eminem song I go into a dark place. Every time I see a hurt animal. Every time I get frustrated with my stepkids and I wonder deep down if I am ultimately capable of snapping and becoming just like you. I used to worry about that a lot, you know, because I’d always heard that abused people become abusers. I even decided for many years I would never have kids, because I was so afraid of having your genetics in me. But now that I have stepkids I know, I would never, could never, EVER do the things you did. You may be half of my genetic makeup, but what you are (a MONSTER) is NOT in my nature. Thank God for that.

I used to spend a lot of time being angry that you never spent a day in jail, that you never lost your precious firefighting job (even though the chaplain of the fire department was fully aware of what was going on) or even really suffered any real consequences for what you did. Nowadays it doesn’t matter so much. The last time I saw you over fifteen years ago you were no longer someone to be feared. You were a shriveled shell of the man you used to be.

I know you are now on your fourth wife. I found it very interesting that before her, your third wife remarried you…you may think I don’t know, but I do, that she divorced you after you held her hostage at gunpoint too. I can’t believe she was stupid enough to go back and remarry you again. When I heard you were on number 4, I was actually glad number 3 got out, because I liked her. I’ve even tried to track her down, but I can’t find her. I feel sorry for number 4. I pray to God she doesn’t have any female grandchildren.

You are one sick son of a bitch. I’m so lucky that I got away from you in time for it to not completely ruin my life. I’m so lucky that I have a real DAD now in the man who adopted me. Oh by the way, that reminds me, I found some interesting evidence in my mom’s attic this summer. I always wondered why you gave up your parental rights to me so easily, so that my stepdad could legally adopt me. It always kind of surprised me you didn’t fight that tooth and nail. Until this summer when I found the legal document you had my mother sign in exchange for me. Yeah, you wanted the half of your firefighter’s pension that she was legally entitled to back. So you made her sign a document that she would give up her half of the pension, and in exchange you gave up your rights. You know what’s funny about that? My mother would never in a million YEARS have touched your pension money, even though she was legally entitled to do so. She would have thought of it as blood money. But hey, we all got what we wanted, so I guess it doesn’t matter in the end.

By the way, in case you’re interested, the love of my life, the most wonderful man I know and am so lucky to be married to now? He’s a lot like my dad. And by that I DON’T mean you. That’s all you need to know about him because you will NEVER meet him or anyone else in my family.

I no longer hate you like I used to. I certainly no longer fear you. All you are to me is a mean, pathetic little man I used to know, and am glad to be rid of.

Not your daughter

~ by Stepfamily Letter Project on August 20, 2010.

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