Saturday, September 11, 2010

Not Like the Other Girls: A Letter to My Father

Mein Vater,

(Oh yeah, you didn't know that about me. I know some German now. There's a lot you don't know about me, I suppose, not the least of which is my--name.)

I will be twenty one in about a month. Can you believe that? I'll be legally able to do all the "adult" things I've been doing since I was a child. I'm already waiting for a birthday card that I know won't come.

Perhaps I'm foolish... naive... well, actually, I prefer to think I'm just hopeful. I'm probably a little too hopeful. It's led to some pretty crushing moments in the past, and this won't be any different. I know this.

I will be twenty one, and strangely enough, I won't be running to the bar and drinking. I won't be opening my mouth to pour the bitterness of Washing Everything Away down my throat. I am afraid of becoming an addict, like you. Thanks for that, by the way, I love living in fear of anything. Thanks for my addictive personality. Thanks for this genetic code that's buried somewhere deep inside of my skin, I know enough to understand that if it goes off, if I become like you, I am a Goner.

And that is one thing in life I never want to be.

I will be twenty one, and you will finally be Free of Obligations to Me. Then again, I suppose this is really not much of anything to you. You've been free of me since my thirteenth birthday. Except for that brief year and a half when you were forced to pay child support, since you left I've gotten nothing from you.

I wonder, Oh Giver of Half My Genes, if you think of me on October 17th. I wonder if you lay awake, I wonder if you pass by the birthday cake in Wal-Mart and wonder if I'm eating any. I wonder if you walk through a bookstore, pick up a novel here or there, and consider buying it to mail to me, just because I might like it. I wonder if you walk by the birthday cards and think about picking one up for me and signing them like you used to; Love, Daddy.

Love, Daddy. I have not read those words from you in a VERY long time, and I am coming to terms with the fact that I never will again. It's been a long time for me. I know that you blame me for all of this. You told me as much the day you left. You told me that I didn't love you enough, and so you were leaving.

Because thirteen year olds can ruin the lives of grown men. You must have been... Forty two then, I think? Mom would have been--thirty eight? This somehow doesn't sound right. But my calculator tells me this is true.

I've been doing some math lately. You know how bad I am at that, but I have been making the attempt. This isn't the kind of math that you can really use scratch paper for, though. I've been doing some math, taking all the ways you didn't love me from all the ways that you did.

And do you know? I keep coming up empty handed. This shouldn't be a surprise to you, but I have a nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach that it is. Most likely. Yeah, you'll be shocked like you always are when I can add up all the things you did not do for me. All the meager things that you did for me--well, they don't even compare.

And it's sick. It's sick that I can do this, and it's sick that I keep doing this, and frankly; I'm sick. I know that now. You have poisoned me, and I am finally opening myself up to bleed you out of me. It is messy, and I am constantly having to look away, but I am doing it.

Because if I don't, this poison will turn me black on the inside, and I'm pretty sure it could just kill me. Not like, literally. It would kill all these Good Things about me that people point out; it would make me a bitter, withered, lonely old shell. Like you.

I never want to be like you.

You know, sometimes I wish you could say you were sorry. You were sorry for saying those things to me when you left, and you were sorry for leaving me in the first place. I wish you could say you were sorry for leaving Mom like you did, and leaving me to pick up the mess that you left. (I never did it correctly. Yeah, thanks for that too.) I wish you could apologize for all the things we Went Without because we didn't have Enough because of what you took and didn't take when you left. Because of what you Didn't Give us. We didn't even get a door prize when you left, like so many other women and children did. You didn't think we were worth it, and wanted to punish my mother, and in doing so, my brother and I suffered.

I wish I could hear you apologize to me. But you're not sorry, and if I ever hear one more lie out of your rotten mouth, I will have to rip it off. I say this not out of violence, but out of honesty. It's a concept you've never grasped, but there you have it.

I wish you knew half of the Hell I've gone through since you left. I wish you knew what I've had to deal with. I won't bother to tell you, because I know what you'll say; "Well, if you had just APOLOGIZED to me...." Because I had so much to be sorry for? Perhaps the only thing I can apologize for is that I refused to swallow your scraps of love and pretend it's what I deserved.

I know better know. I know I deserve better. Better than whatever you wanted to give me. And believe me, it's been a long hard road figuring THAT one out, and I've had to deal with a lot of sick people, but hey... I'm there now, and sometimes it isn't the journey, it's the destination.

I deserve to be loved. I am worthy of that. And I know that first I had to realize that I had to love myself, and I do now. That was tough to swallow, a Big Thing, but I did that too. No thanks to you.

I know that if you could see me now, you'd tell me how proud you are of me. All I can say is; "Why? You didn't help. All that I am and all that I have done is really nothing to do with you." I'd probably then tell you in no uncertain terms to get away from me and stay away from me, and to stay the HELL away from my mother too, for that matter.

I am almost twenty one. I will be An Adult, though I'm sure that I've been one for a long time now. The calendar just now agrees with my soul. I will be An Adult. But you...You are still a child.

And that pretty much sucks.

-Taima Baudelaire

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