You want to know? It’s not the assignment of writing an unsent letter to my dad that was difficult, it was the process that was important. This goal-oriented society forgets to value the process of things, the experience without focusing on the end result. The relationship failed? But what did you learn? She passed away? What words did she used to say that still echo in your heart? It’s been weeks since I was asked to draft the letter and just now I have picked up my computer at my first attempt.
Weeks of stress, immesurable happiness, unfulfilled childhood desires, and a few tears have passed. What did I learn from the rollercoaster? That there’s not a moment of the day that I am not learning, that the snake skin continues to peel and always will as I discover this world, others, and myself. I crumbled at the thought, he was right. His voice over the phone spoke to me, telling me to get it out of my head that this situation would ever change, that a separated family would ever reunite, the way that my nine year old heart has always wished. How often had someone told me similar words? Not very many.
I thought the moment I would start writing my letter to my father, it would be as long as the one for my mother, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. Here it goes:
I find it difficult telling you how it is that I feel exactly. I love you, of course because you are my dad and you raised me most of my childhood. However, my feelings about you are completely dependent on my mood. Every few months I go through a tough moment of denial and confusion. I still don’t understand why my life happened the way it did. I can’t say I’d like to take everything back because I realize that it has made me the person that I am today, for the better, that I have acquired more skills, earned a better education, yet I can’t help but also feel like I have been heartbroken for the past 11 years.
A few days ago I asked my boyfriend “if someone could have helped you avoid the pain that you felt in your past relationship, would you have wanted them to?” And he said no, that the experience made him who is he today. I agreed, there is a lot to be learned from relationships, but yet I kept thinking that if someone could have protected me from the pain that I felt from our separated family, I think I would let them. I have alternated between silently blaming you for cheating on mom, to thinking mom caused my pain by moving out of the country after the divorce. I have cried to the point of exhaustion and left with the desire to just give up, no longer a negative nor a positive thought in my mind, just totally “brain dead.”
Today, I’ve reached a point in my life where I can’t blame anyone for what happened to MY life, I can only choose the attitude that I will welcome change. So I write on my mirror “adapt.” It’s the key. So much misery can happen in anyone’s life, but logical understanding only causes more confusion because, as I am realizing, life is filled with random events and the idea that everything is meant to be or that there is a reason underlined in every action seems untrue. The puzzle pieces will fall as they will and it is up to us to learn, grow, let go, and adapt to change. I heard you say it over the phone tonight, for whatever reasons the past 11 years of your life have been a combination of “maledictions.” One divorce after another, debt piling up on your financial records, distance between your children grow further away.
For the first time today, I saw your view of the situation without even mentioning my own thoughts and it reminded that you are human. You have made mistakes and I’ve tried to forgive, to blame, to let go, and it has been incredibly difficult hot and cold process. My psychology professor said today that people are under the belief that the world should be fair and that is the reason we tend to blame others for our misery. Just a few words that you said finally gave me your perspective of the situation and the compassion to forgive you. I put myself in your shoes and realized the burden that you must hold and the stress you must feel when the end of an argument leaves you feeling that you will always be labeled as a bad father, like nothing is ever good enough. You are not perfect dad, and you lack some skills in communicating. I am not sure if I will ever completely forgive you for cheating on mom, but I am learning to accept it and let go. I will not justify the action or consider you innocent, but I am emotionally trying to stop blaming you because it is not productive.
Both you and mom have made me lose a little bit of hope in humanity by marrying someone not for love but convenience. You didn’t seem to fall in love with your wife, she was convenient. Mom didn’t fall in love with her fiance, she just enjoys his company, they are good friends and she does genuinely love him, but it’s not the same. The thought that two people can be so in love, marry for 20 years, have 4 kids and STILL not desire to be together for the rest of their lives, scares me. Someone must have done something wrong, I keep telling myself, but then I remember that your disloyal actions were not the only reason the divorce happened, it was a consequences of your incompatibility as a married couple. As a philosophy student, I am having a hard time just accepting to let go, just adapting without justifying the actions that have affected me. There must be a reason, otherwise I can’t let go of the thought that it is your fault my life sucks.
What I mean to say is, I will stop blaming you. What has happened cannot be changed. As my brother said, I can only rely on learning from my parents’ mistakes and making sure that I don’t make the same when I am a parent. I understand. You are human. You made mistakes. You hate confrontation. Your actions do NOT speak louder than your words. When you don’t call, it’s not because you don’t care. You’ve always loved us, you’ve always cared, even when you didn’t make the first move to call. This is a relationship like any other one, and dad I don’t mind bending/compromising and being the first one to contact you almost everytime. I’m not here to count, to keep track of all the mistakes you’ve made because quite honestly… I don’t want to end up at your death bed telling you that I spent my entire life trying to restabilize myself from a divorce that happened in 2002, so I choose my attitude today: adapt.
Your youngest daughter