Kalamazoo Man’s Open Letter To The Absent Father and The Lifelong Trauma It Caused
To the father that was inconsistent:
From the day I was born, the first breath I took, the first kicks, screams, and waving arms, to the first time I opened my eyes, I had no clue you weren't there and never really would be. I honestly can't recall a memory before maybe six or seven years old with you. I genuinely don't remember seeing you on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Fourth of July, my birthday, or any other important day I can think of before maybe middle school, if not high school. I should have known then how things would be, but I praise my mother for letting me decide on my own and never bashing you.
It's hard for me not to bash you, and I do my very best because you did give me life, something I'm grateful to have. For much of my childhood, I thought there was something wrong with me. As if I was the reason you didn't want to be around. Other kids would talk about their dad, they would be picked up from school by their dad, or they would be there at practices and games. I, on the other hand, often had to ride with someone else or just walk home because my mom was working to take care of my sister and me, alone.
Then You Came Back
Toward the end of elementary, it seemed as if something changed in you, as you started to call here and there, and you even managed to spend a day or two with me a month, in what I thought was a busy schedule. This would continue into middle school and being naïve I never thought it would come to an end. It might've been easier for you to step up now because my grandmother, your mom, worked at Milwood, my middle school. I don't know if she was encouraging you to come around because she sensed I needed it, or what the case was, but I was happy and beginning to gain self-esteem.
I played basketball for years, I don't think you knew that I played in elementary, I even sprained my wrist once while playing during fourth grade. Anyway, I was excited to give you my schedule for 7th grade basketball season, hoping to see you in the stands. I don't know why but it seemed as if that was the last straw, you felt I was getting too close, and you severed the tie. I saw you at 1 game that I can remember and vowed to never give you that much time or energy again.
Paving My Own Success
All through my 8th grade and high school years, I played 4 different sports, achieved a varsity letter in 4 sports, graduated high school, and earned a full-ride scholarship to play lacrosse and study communications at Adrian College. You saw basically none of it, and only saw you at two games my 8th-grade year and none my entire four years in high school. You didn't make it to my signing day, high school graduation, or move-in date. You had returned to being the ghost you formerly were.
For as long as I can remember now I've struggled with all forms of relationships, except for my mother. I've hurt lots of feelings since my 8th-grade year, mostly girlfriends that I felt were getting too close. I have a handful of people I trust that I have let in, but getting into my circle is arguably harder than scooping frozen peanut butter. I will push people away or even sabotage relationships to ensure that I don't experience that same pain you caused when you left.
Healing and Moving Forward
As I begin to heal and tackle the abandonment trauma from my childhood, I've realized this letter has been long overdue. Writing has always been the most effective outlet for my feelings and traumas, well besides sports, but I never had the courage to put the pen to paper. I thought concealing the pain and running away as you did would help, but it only made things worse. I used to ask myself "Is an inconsistent father better than an absent father?" I got my answer, and I wish you would've been an absent father, but either way, I turned out okay.
I'll end with this: I do forgive you for the decisions you have made. I may never fully understand why, but maybe it's not meant for me to know. I no longer hold any hate or ill feelings toward you and have started to break the walls down surrounding abandonment. I pledge to my future wife, my future children, and more importantly myself that I will be a much better and active father than you ever were.