June 19, 2016

To the dad who walked away

When I heard about your “I will stand” series on your blog, my heart longed to tell many of the stories that have helped me learn to stand in my life. But tonight I wanted to share a letter I wrote this year to one of the main people who has helped me find my reason to stand.

My father.


Dear Dad,

It is me, your little girl. Tomorrow is Father’s Day—again. Another year I will celebrate without you.

For a long time I didn’t understand why you had to leave. I tried to reassure myself that it was not because you wanted to go, but I also knew if that was true . . . you would have come back to me.

So I pretended I hated you. It was easy most days—I got used to you being gone—and I resented you for not being so many of the things I longed for you to be. Life was easy when I hated you, because then I didn’t feel so alone.

The hardest part was when I missed you.

When you are a little girl, everything is about super heroes and princesses being saved. I always dreamed you would come and rescue me from the rollercoaster of chaos and fear of hating and missing you all at the same time.

Because the truth of it was . . . I never hated you. I missed you. I missed you so bad my heart hurt. I missed your laugh, and your smile. I missed your stories and our oatmeal cookies. I missed knowing I was safe when you were close by.  I missed knowing that you would protect me and take care of me. I missed having you by my side.

I missed my dad, not the one who walked away . . . the man I wished you were—the dad you should have been.  

So I waited for you. In my eyes, you were the magic ticket to my happy life again. Every memory I created without you felt wrong leaving you behind. I watched out the window—some nights—praying that this would be the one you would remember me and come home.

But you never came.

So life moved on without you, at least on the outside. My dreams of you coming home grew distant as the years rolled on. Some were harder than others.  There were many beautiful moments, others were dark and lonely—but every day I still longed for a dad to call my own.

Then I grew up. I married and started my family. Times were not always easy. Some days I still dreamed of being the little girl on your lap drawing you pictures of butterflies and hearing your stories of when you were a little boy. Some nights I cried as I rocked my babies—longing for time to rewind so you could have the chance to give me what I was living for them.

My life has been hard Dad, but tonight I don’t write you this letter to put you down for all the things you were not for me. I wanted to thank you.

Thank you for leaving, because it is the broken pieces that you left that came together to make me who I am today.  All those years ago, I thought it was you I needed to be strong. Turns out you played your role perfectly. Because had I not fought to be better than a used and broken little girl, I might not ever had discovered that it wasn’t you that was going to make me happy. It was me . . . and God.

I sometimes wish I would have known you father. Every shooting star, every candle, every turkey bone on Thanksgiving—my wish was always the same. I wished I had a dad who wanted me . . . I wished you would come back and be my father.

But today my wish has changed. I want you to know I forgive you, because without you—and all that you didn’t do—I wouldn’t be me. Because of you I fight every day to make sure my children know they are priceless, and amazing, and worth every sacrifice I have ever made for them. Every day I make sure they never feel like they are a burden.

Maybe God planned it this way after all, maybe in heaven you promised him you would come down as the man who would fail me. Maybe God knew that without that story, I wouldn’t have found Him. Maybe it is my story that makes me the mom I fight every day to be.

I lost a lot of things the day you left—but I didn’t lose me.

So this year I don’t celebrate Father’s Day with regrets of who you weren’t for me. I will celebrate the man who gave me life. I won’t cry for all the years you weren’t there, or the moments in your grandchildren’s lives that you are missing.  

I will be thankful that I have a father—somewhere in this world—who gave me life, because it has been beautiful.

I have a Father who created me in heaven, who thinks I am perfect just the way I am. He will never leave me. 

So please forgive me for all the years I wasted hating you for not loving me the way I wanted to be loved. I have no regrets—not any more—and I hope you have found all the happiness in the world, where ever your journey has taken you.

Mother told me years ago that you were the one who taught me how to walk by holding my hand . . . but when you let go—that lonely day you left me—that is the moment God taught me how to stand. 

Your daughter


Unknown said...

This letter I could have written. I have felt these same feelings and was angry at all the time I wasted hating my father. Thank you for sharing this and for the reminder of where I stand today. I am strong, I know how to show love and I am thankful for all that my past had taught me.

Unknown said...

This letter I could have written. I have felt these same feelings and was angry at all the time I wasted hating my father. Thank you for sharing this and for the reminder of where I stand today. I am strong, I know how to show love and I am thankful for all that my past had taught me.

Janna said...

Oh my, this brought tears to my eyes! How much her dad missed out on! I can't imagine he found happiness and contentment by leaving his little girl. As much as she gained strength & fierce determination by overcoming such a profound loss, I can't help but feel brokenhearted by the years she was so crushed by the weight of his abandonment... and I feel brokenhearted over what he missed out on. I hope he knows he made a huge mistake. Because of his decision to leave, not only did he miss out on seeing his little girl grow up... he's also missing out on being a grandpa to her precious kids. Nothing is worth losing all of that. Nothing.

aber said...

This is the best thing you ever posted. I felt like these words came straight from my heart. Thank you. <3

Unknown said...

It is almost 5 years since you wrote this...and you wrote it on my dad's birthday...I cried my eyes out reading my feelings on your paper..im saving this to post on Father's day as he died this year on Easter.

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