Sunday, March 18, 2018

Choosing Me: A letter to my dad

Letting go, it's not easy. Moving on, it's not easy. These last few months I've been very depressed. Irritable, angry, sad, empty. In therapy I've been talking about how angry I am with myself. I take everything out on myself. At one point, the emotions got so bad I cut myself. It was really bad this time. I cut the word whore in my left thigh and the word fag into my right thigh. Every time I get in the shower, change my clothes, I can't help but look at the scars on my leg. Every time I look at them I get angry, angry at myself. I feel ashamed for cutting myself. I feel disgusted with myself.

In therapy when we were talking about my negative feelings towards myself, he asked me to close my eyes and think of the first time when I felt less than. Within 30 seconds I thought of being a child. I cried a lot as a child and it made my dad angry. He would tell me "boys don't cry", "man up", "we don't cry." As he said this, there was always this look of disappointment in his eyes. I always felt he was disappointed I was gay. He would make comments about the fags in the pride parade and make jokes about gay people. I was allowing him to make me feel less than.

My therapist proposed an exercise for me, to write a letter to my dad, expressing how I felt. I've done this letter writing before for other people/experiences in my life. I agreed it would be a good thing for me to do... it took me almost 2 months to write it.

It's funny, I thought I had resolved my feelings about my dad. Years ago I went through a four month group therapy program. Twice I told my dad how I felt about certain things. I talked about how he scared me as a child with his drinking and anger. I told him how I felt our relationship is one sided, that it's me always reaching out and when we talk he just spends the whole time complaining about things. I set boundaries for our relationship. I thought I had dealt with it and moved on... boy I was wrong!

As a child I felt alone, unwanted and a burden. I was very lonely as a child. I just wanted to be loved and acknowledged. My dad was an alcoholic and would get angry at lot. I remember my mom and him getting in intense arguments, him punching holes in the wall. Whenever he would get angry, I would think "is today the day he is going to hit me." That's no way for a child to live.

I wrote the letter. It was difficult to write. I realized something as I wrote it. I've never mourned the loss of the life I could have had, that I wanted to have. I've been holding on to how things should have been. I've been directing my anger at myself, not the person who caused it, my dad. I've been treating myself like shit for so long, for too long and I don't want to do it anymore.

I've allowed myself to feel worthless and weak because of what he said and did. I'm angry that I feel a lot of my life has been taken away because he wasn't there for me. He didn't support me in the way I needed. He chose alcohol over me and that wasn't okay. I'm sad I don't have a relationship with him but I realized something important, I can't have his negativity, his anger, in my life. I need to put myself first, I deserve to be put first. I deserve to be loved and respected. I deserve to love myself and respect myself. I deserve kindness.

I can't change the past, I can't forget what happened, but I can acknowledge it, deal with it and use it to move forward in a healthy way.

This was a hard letter to write. It wasn't just a letter to him, it was a letter to myself. I cried writing this letter. I have never cried like this in my life. I cried so hard, so loud, I made noises that sounded like I just had someone important die. In a way I did have someone die, I had to let a part of me go. I had to mourn the loss of my childhood and the person who I thought I should have been. I had snot dripping out my nose, I was drooling and gasping for air. I had years and years of emotions finally being released.

At one point I stopped writing, I threw the letter on the ground and started addressing my dad out loud. At first I could only get out "fuck you, fuck you dad, fuck you! Fuck you!" Through the slobber and snot, I said "you've taken so much away from me, you have made my life so difficult, I'm moving on. Fuck you! I deserve happiness and kindness. I'm moving on!"

I ended the letter with "Goodbye dad, I'm choosing me."

Goodbye doesn't mean I won't speak to him again. It doesn't mean I hate him. I forgive him. I see a fellow human being who has also struggled with life, who doesn't know how to deal with his feelings, his demons. Just because I forgive him, doesn't mean I need him in my life regularly. It doesn't mean I will take on his negativity and his anger. I will put myself first. I will choose me because I am worth it.