A Letter to My Father

Dear Dad,

I wish I could be there for you. I wish access to you and your love wasn't conditional. I wish you would choose to see me as successful rather than wrong, hell-bound or inferior. But you have decided my life is a burden to your soul, and you have disconnected from me to protect yourself. You are hurting so much, and you point the finger at me, but the cause is the fear inside you.

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We could talk about religion and God, but I'd rather not. That gets us nowhere. I don't believe in a god who divides families through threat of eternal violence. I will not worship an abuser.

Which is why, even though we aren't talking right now, I'm not truly suffering. Yes, I have sadness that I don't get to be family with you. I have anger at the way your disapproval holds my mother and sisters away from me. But I'm not missing a good relationship with you because I've never had one. It has always been hard, harsh, hurtful. What you are doing now? Cutting me off? I've been patiently waiting my turn. I knew this day would come because this is your modus operandi: those who do not fall in line are cast off.

I'm a castaway. It is very lonely. Abusive patterns live on well after the physical violence stops. You have proven this. You are proving this. And I am showing my own true colors by refusing to bend. I walk tall because I am proud of myself and my family.

No, we don't live the way you live. We don't believe the way you believe. And thank goodness. Because we choose not to follow your path, we have found ways to give back to our community, to love and respect each other deeply, to communicate clearly and to enjoy ourselves in each day. We are not burdened by the fear of a wrathful father tallying our mistakes. There is no goodness within that behavior. We eschew it just as you eschew me.

Now that my uncle has passed on (may he rest in peace), I wish I could be there for you. To make a joke or comfort you. It is so very, very hard to lose family. You made sure I know this to be true. So, while I wish I could support you, I am grateful you have chosen distance. I can grieve on my own without fearing a misstep and the loss of your love. I never had it anyway.

I wish you well,

Shawna

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