For some people, their dad was the first person to hurt them.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 5, 2020. It has since been updated.
You know dad, there are so many things I have never told you. So many things I carry within me that you will never hear from me. Regrets, secret wishes, pain, longing, and a sense of void that never goes away. I wish I had what every child longs for—a father she could rely on, a father who was there for his daughter, a father who would make his little girl smile and protect her from things that could harm her. But the first person to hurt me the most in ways I can't explain was you. The first person who made me distrust men was you. The first person who broke my heart was you.
Because of you—your emotional absence, your abandonment, your lack of interest, your anger, your abusive words—I feel I can never be fully loved. I still struggle with self-doubt and guilt. As a child, I believed in everything you said. When you thought I was not good enough for your love, I believed that completely in my childlike innocence. When you called me names, I believed them to be true. When you were angry and acting hostile, I believed I am the reason for your bad mood. When you fought with mom and made her cry, I blamed myself for the quarrel. When you abandoned me once and for all, I felt guilty that I was not good enough for you to stay with me. You have no idea how much I longed to have a dad who would hold me and make me laugh.
I cried myself to sleep many nights. I wished for a miracle that would bring back the happy days when we were all together sharing a laugh. I looked at my friends and their dads and hated myself for being unworthy of your love. I carried these wounds into adulthood. I carried these scars as reminders that no matter what, I will never know the reasons behind your action. I will never know why you left me, why you chose to see me as baggage. I will never know why you were aggressive and moody. I will never know why you could not say some kind words to me. As a little girl, your approval meant everything to me.
If you had taken just some time to reflect and spare a few nice moments with me, if you had listened to me, told me that you were proud of me, and showed that you loved me, it would have made a huge difference to me, Dad. All I needed was your assurance that I am growing up to be the kind of girl you will be happy to have as your daughter. Instead, you left me feeling inadequate and hating myself for all of your actions.
Now that I am a mother myself, I finally know that it wasn't my fault. Your mood swings, your anger, your lack of interest, your inability to feel emotionally close, and nurture me was NOT my fault. I am not the little girl anymore. I know now that you didn't grow into the man you could have become. Instead, you chose the easy way out. You chose to project your pain, your insecurity, your unhealed wounds onto us—your family.
But it is not just me you left behind with scars. It is also my mother—the one who brought me up with such strength and grace. I often saw this pained look on her face, and her eyes welled up often but that didn't stop her from doing her best for me. The void that you caused by your irresponsible actions was filled by her unselfish effort. She did her best to make sure I didn't miss your support, yet both of us knew that no matter what, she will not be able to fill the emotional void entirely. I am proud to be her daughter and I promised her that I will be strong, kind, and graceful like her. I will try to be like the mom that she was to me with my own kids.
But there are some questions I kept away from mom. I didn't want to hurt her more than she already was. But I wish I could ask you these. Why did you bring me into this world if you wanted to abandon me? Why did you choose to have me if you felt no matter what you will never find me good enough to be your daughter? Why did you pretend to be a dad outside that you were not inside the house? Why was it so hard, dad, for you to love me? These questions will remain unanswered and haunt me as long as I live.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the writer.