A letter to my homeless father

Dear Dad,

I knew from an early age that our story would never end well but it was Saturday 13th July that you changed our lives forever

That was the day you died.
At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

You’re supposed to be in your teenage years when you get your heart broken for the first time.  You’re supposed to run home from school in tears that your relationship is over and your dad is supposed to be the one that threatens to ‘hurt him’ because he’s upset his daughter.  You are not supposed to be 10 years old when your heart breaks for the first time and your father is not the one that’s supposed to break it for you; and yet you were.  You agreed to come to Disneyworld with mum and I despite the fact that you were no longer married and I was over the moon to think I would have my first family holiday.  Five days later, however, you changed your mind and you broke my heart; I remember that conversation like it was yesterday.  You called me the following Tuesday, like you always did, but I was still too upset to speak to you; mum told you I didn’t want to talk and you hung up; you never rang back.  It was 6 weeks later when I had to call you and apologise for my behaviour and listen to your mother tell me what I had put you through.  I never got over it.  That was the day I truly began to see you for what you were.  Even writing this brings tears to my eyes and anger to my heart to think you could treat your daughter so callously.  I wish I hadn’t missed you as much as I did and called you; I doubt you would have ever had the courage to call me back and I would have been free from you for all these years.  Hindsight is a cruel mistress.

You are my shameful secret.  If I don’t have to speak about you to anyone, I won’t.  If you were anyone but my father, I would have walked out of your life when I started to see you for the manipulative and controlling monster you really were.  Instead, you pushed everyone away and left me being the only person you had in the world despite the fact I wanted nothing to do with you.  We, as a society, are told to look after our parents no matter what; ‘love unconditionally’ as they say but why?  You have done nothing to deserve my respect, help or love and so I’m going against everything I’ve ever been taught and I’m walking away because I can’t carry you as my shameful secret any longer; I have no desire or energy to keep something so big, so quiet.

You are not the worst father in the world, I know that, but neither that does mean that I deserved everything you have put me through all these years either.  I didn’t deserve to feel so frightened of you that we’ve never once had an argument in life because I worried that one day your fist would hurt me instead of your words.  I didn’t deserve to physically turn into a woman and then suddenly become deathly afraid that you would start coming into my room at night.  I didn’t deserve to spend my life apologising for you and your actions because of the awful way you had treated people.  I didn’t deserve it; any of it.

For the past 10 years you’ve lived in Spain but since you mother died 6 years ago you’ve not coped and the more strained our relationship became, the less we spoke.  We would go weeks or months without talking and whilst I knew that you were in trouble, I will admit that ignorance was bliss.  I am no longer ignorant.

For on that Saturday 13th I got a call from a man I shall call Good Guy and Good Guy changed my life.  I’d never heard from him before but he rang me first thing in the morning to talk about you.  He explained that he had taken you in for the past 4 months; that he had clothed and fed you for nothing and made sure you were okay; I was shocked but that wasn’t the worst thing he said; he told me that he had ‘found you on the side of the road’; that you were homeless.  I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.  My dad?  Homeless?  I knew the situation had been bad but I had no idea; you never said!

Good Guy continued to tell me that he had set you up with countless jobs but that you either turned up drunk or not at all.  He said that you were stealing from anyone and everyone to get money for cigarettes and alcohol and that you were becoming too violent for him to handle.  He even told me that you had somehow got money to fly back to the UK last year but that you were kicked out of the airport because you had tried to live there!  I never knew.  You never even called.  Good Guy told me you didn’t answer my calls because you were afraid I would have ‘have a go at you’ about your situation; I knew you were a coward but I never realised it would mean ignoring your own daughter because of it.

That was the longest 20 minute conversation of my life and by the end I felt like my world had collapsed.  I rushed into mum’s bedroom in tears and painfully tried to tell her the situation.  I didn’t know if I wanted to throw up or faint.  I spent the entire weekend in tears not knowing what to do.  Good Guy was threatening to kick you out after you had taken advantage of his kind nature one too many times and becoming too violent and I didn’t even know where to begin in ‘sorting out’ the situation.  Mum and I considered flying out to see you for a few days; to see what the situation was and take it from there but there was a problem with that.  As much as I feared you weren’t mentally well; I KNEW I wasn’t well; certainly not well enough to see you in that state.  Seeing you would do nothing but make me want to run away.  I would end up getting incredibly sad seeing you in that state and then I would get angry at you for putting me through this after all the years you had already hurt me.  Good Guy said ‘at least he isn’t dead’ but I wished you had been; it would have been so much easier.  I would no longer have you in my life and you would finally end your life-long suffering.  As cruel as it is to say that out loud, it’s even more cruel that everyone that knows you agreed with my thought.

Do you know what happened on that Saturday night after the morning phone call?  I considered killing myself.  I went from one of the highest highs the week before in London to needing to gather up any pills and medication I had in my bedroom ranging from anti-histamines to Valium, put them in a bag and hide them in another room at 2am because it’s ALL I could think about.  I wanted to run away from you forever and not deal with you.  That’s what you did to me and you’ll never even know; or care.

Monday came around and I visited any Government office I could think of to get advice on your situation and even rang the British Consulate in Spain to see if there were any charities that could help but ultimately I knew that if you weren’t ready to accept help, there was nothing I could do and I wasn’t prepared to do anything more.  This isn’t about revenge for all the years you’ve hurt me, I’d just come to realise that you can’t help everyone whether they’re your parent or not.

The problem was that over the next few days you had me questioning the very fibre of my being.  For as long as I can remember I have been one of ‘life’s helpers’; I will go out of my way to be there for someone even if I am struggling myself and yet, here I was, turning my back on someone, society says, is the last person I should ever do that to.  You had me question whether I was a nice person at all or if I’d been lying to myself all these years; just deluding myself.  How could a ‘good girl’ leave her dad when he needed his daughter the most.  And then I realised that you have never been my dad; you’ve never even earned the title of Father.  Despite us keeping in contact throughout the years, I consider myself to be from a single-parent family; you have had no input on my parenting or the person I have become today and yet you have in the most horrible of ways.

I am my ‘father’s daughter’; I look like you, talk like you, have your mannerisms and I even have your family names and at times, throughout the years, I have hated myself for that.  At times, even to this day, I HATE who I am simply because of who I came from.  I hate that I am named after your uncle and grandmother.  I hate that in certain photos, captured at the wrong angle or in the wrong light, I look at myself and feel physically sick because I look just like you.  I hate that I fear I have a life marred by mental illness because of you.  Mum can say that she at least got me out of her relationship with you but that comes as no consolation when I say or do something that reminds me so much of you.  I spend my life terrified that I am turning into you; that I AM you and yet every time I have tried to change, I realise that despite all my faults because of you, I am still an infinitely better person than you could ever be.

I have spent the last 2.5 weeks barely sleeping, alternating between tears and feeling sick with guilt at night, when I no longer have distractions, wondering what to do and yet, it appears to have all been for nothing.  Good Guy rang me back today and we spoke for almost half an hour about you and the situation we all find ourselves in because of you.  The more I heard, the less I wanted to hear.  He told me that you were creeping women out because you’d strike up the most inappropriate conversations with them about hardcore porn, that you don’t care about ruining his apartment and practically live in your own dirt and that despite the fact you have nothing, you still think that the world owes you.  You’ve always thought the world owes you something, despite not working in 24 years, so that came as no surprise but what Good Guy said next did.  He asked you why you didn’t speak to your daughter and you replied with ‘because she owes me for all the years I looked after her and brought her up’ and it was at that exact point I realised that, to you, I am no longer your daughter; just another person that should ‘pay up’.  The daughter you used to be ‘so proud of’ didn’t exist for you anymore and it broke my heart to hear you say that about me.  You’ve broken it again Dad.  You broke my heart aged 10 but it healed though I never forgot.  17 years later and you’ve broken it again; for the final time.

I can’t do this anymore.  I have no doubt that you are mentally ill and so, to some extent, you can’t help yourself; I, of all people, can understand that (not that you would know since you have no idea I’ve been so unwell) but even when I was at my lowest last year, I still knew I needed help and accepted it when I could.  You used to look exactly like Tony Soprano but by all accounts you are less than half the size you once were because you no longer eat; just drink alcohol and smoke and that in itself breaks my heart.  You are 57 years old and you can’t even look after yourself in the most basic of ways; you don’t keep yourself clean or care what you look like and whilst that probably suggests you really are mentally unwell, I can’t help you even if I wanted to because you’re not ready to accept it and I’m not sure I’m ready to give you any.

I never thought I would be one of ‘those people’.  A person that knew they had a homeless family member ‘somewhere out there’ but I’ve joined the secret society; the one no one wants to admit that they’re a member of.  I always thought, naively, that the family hadn’t done enough to help that person or, if they were young people, that they had simply run away and didn’t know how to go back; I know differently now.  As soon as your mother died and I began to tell you the truth about your situation (that you were rapidly running out of money and needed to get a job etc) our relationship changed for the worse and you began to show your true level of cowardice.  You stopped answering my calls or wouldn’t speak to me for a weeks at a time because you knew I was telling you the truth and you hated it.  I told you the truth because you needed to hear it and I hoped it would help you sort yourself out but you went the other way and you pulled away from me.  I tried to help when it mattered but now it’s too late for either of us.

You’re 57 years old and since Good Guy has kicked you out, you’re now homeless again.  You’re an alcoholic, homeless, mentally ill man and you have now joined the ‘invisible nation’; people will pass you in the street and think you’re less than nothing, they won’t feed or clothe you or care who you used to be; they won’t see you as a human being and that reduces me to tears.  You have nobody left to care for you in the world because you’ve spent your entire life pushing people away and my soul weeps for you; not because you are my father but because you are another human suffering so greatly.

What do I tell people in the future when I meet them and they ask about you?  Am I supposed to say that we no longer talk?  That you’ve died? Or that I walked away from you to allow you to be the homeless alcoholic you seemed so eager to be?  How did it ever come to this Dad?  I feel sick just thinking about it.

I have spoken to so many people about you, everyone from family to strangers, in the hopes that someone would know and be able to tell me what to do but all I got was people telling me something that I already knew; that after years of your abuse I needed to finally walk away but I wanted different answers; one that didn’t include me walking away from you when you seemingly needed me the most; one that didn’t make me feel like the most horrible daughter and woman in the world and yet there is no denying it; the time has come to say goodbye no matter how soul-destroying it is or how empty, yet hurt, it makes me feel.

I write this to you as a goodbye letter because this is the only way I feel I will ever get it ‘out of my system’ despite the fact that you will never read this; you don’t even know I write because our ‘relationship’ has always been about you.  And so, I write this for myself, to try and close a door shattered beyond repair hoping that this time, it will stay shut.

It hurts beyond words to think that we said goodbye without a single word shared between us and that ultimately, I may never know when you truly die.  I said goodbye to a man I haven’t loved in years and yet it still hurts me beyond words to do it.  I’m not upset because you are my Dad and I love you because as sad as it is to say it, I don’t love you; I’m upset because you have wilted away like a flower with no desire to fight for life.

I imagine your body will be found by a stranger with no I.D. on you and they will never know you have a daughter to tell but our relationship has already died.

My 27 year old self knows that you can’t help someone that doesn’t want to be helped.
My 10 year old self wants a Dad.
I don’t know which breaks my heart more.

I’m truly sorry for leaving you Dad; you will never know or understand how much this hurts.

You died today.
You died.

Leave a Reply

43 comments

  1. I don’t know what to say Toni. Heart…breaking. Brave.

    -1
  2. Jorge

    I admire your courage by sharing this with the whole world. Catharsys, girl.

    I always thought blood-relation means nothing per se, still has to be earned.
    I have a wonderful relationship with my mom and dad, but some other members of my family I barely talk, and some others I don’t consider my family anymore.

    He was a sperm donor, didn’t earn any other title.

    Remember that forgiveness is a gift you give, and it’s useful only to yourself.

    You’re not responsible for him.

    Don’t hate, love.

    I hope you’re healing process is smooth.

    Hugs.

  3. This post was powerfully written and brought tears to my eyes while reading it.

    It’s especially hard when you go through life seeing everyone around you having a relationship with their parent(s) and you secretly start to envy them. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a relationship with your father, but it’s a two-way street. And it looks like your mum is ‘father’ enough for you 🙂

    You’ve accepted the heartbreaks and pain and now it’s time to keep that door shut. Never open it again. There are far better doors out there FILLED with people who do care about you. Your father, wherever he is, missed out. You, my dear, are stronger than you think. Thank you for sharing this letter with the world. <3

  4. Jen

    Toni you are brave beyond words. Another amazing and open piece that puts the topic out there for discussion rather than hiding from things that hurt. You are a strong women and I know you will be ok, keep growing Toni as this is part of the journey. Xx

  5. WOW… what an incredibly brave and heart wrenching post. I, too, am not in contact with my father. He is not as bad as yours, he is married and has a house. Or I guess I should say I assume these are still the facts because it’s been five years since we’ve seen or spoken. He, too, is not the worst father. He didn’t physically abuse me and there are some good memories but they are very few and very far between. Although I had reduced contact with him because I found his negativity and desire for the world to give him everything without him working for it a negative influence in my life. But, in the end, he cut off contact with me and wasn’t even man enough to tell me why. He simply stopped speaking to me. I suspect it was something as simple as not stopping to see his family on a long drive across the US. Maybe it wasn’t. All I know is that I meant so little to him that he felt his wounded pride over who knows what was more important. I have found my peace and I pray this helps you find yours.

  6. I’m so sorry Toni. That must have been tough to say the least.

    I think that post was needed more for you than anyone who reads it.

    You’re one of the bravest people I know.

  7. You’re stronger than you realize, Toni. This essay is proof.

  8. Erik

    You’re strong.

    Hugs.

  9. Toni darling, you are a beautiful person in and out and it is amazing of you to share such a heartache. I never knew, which I’m sure many don’t, but it takes a lot of courage to put this out there. And it seems like it has helped you find some closure. Talking about my life and past has helped me do the same. Sometimes in life it is finally time to do what is best for yourself, what is going to keep you happy and alive. It is not selfish, it is not impersonal, it is not heartless. It is what needs to be done, and you have done it. I know it is a tough thing, and I can’t imagine the feelings raging through your body, but keep your chin up and keep looking to the future. To an amazing future on the path you have already chosen to take.

    Stay marvelous, stay strong, and stay true to yourself.

  10. Mark Hutchinson

    Goodness me Toni. I am a bit speechless! We just don’t know in our day to day living what other people have to contend with. No idea at all.

    Here’s just the most obvious thing I see:
    You are not your father’s daughter. You know what I mean. You are a very strong, together young woman despite how it feels. Keep being strong. Keep focused on you. If I saw you right now I would give you a massive hug. xx

  11. I am so sorry Toni! Let go of the things that can no longer be fixed. If you force to try to put them back, things will only get worse. Holding on is being brave, but sometimes moving on makes you even tougher!

  12. Ali

    Toni, this made me cry. I can’t even begin to imagine what you’ve gone through, what you’re still going through, but I think you’ve made the right decision, no matter how difficult it was. You don’t deserve to be treated that way, and you have to take care of yourself. Don’t worry about becoming him, you are YOU, and just by being aware of your problems and trying to tackle them makes you so different from him. It took a lot of courage for you to even write this let alone post it, and I really hope it starts you on the road to healing and letting go.

  13. Toni… I don’t know what to say… sending you a virtual hug (if there’s such a thing)…

    Stay strong.

  14. Toni,

    I’m so sorry to read this. I my dad dad died as a result alcoholism two years ago this coming Sunday (although I “lost” him nearly a year and a half before that). I’m sorry that your father began to expect you to deal with his issues when you were as young as 10; that is such an incredibly unfair thing to ask of someone.

    Hugs and love from me.

  15. Toni, I read this post yesterday and didn’t want to rush a reply, so I wanted to revisit your thoughts today.

    I still don’t have the right words now. I’m so sorry you’ve experienced all of this hurt (and reopening of wounds). It’s never easy to face challenges like this, but it’s so incredibly difficult when you’re doing positive, energizing things for yourself and then the bottom falls out.

    I have an immediate family member I haven’t talked about online who’s taken the rest of us on a roller coaster for 6-7 years. I’m not in your shoes, but I’ve felt the pain and hurt, cried the tears, and actually been ill at times as a result. I can empathize, and I’ll pray for you ♥

  16. Toni,

    You are so brave and remember, you are not alone. Others have done this, including me, and if you won’t blame them for their choices or say they are a bad person, then you aren’t either. Choosing yourself and your own well-being over the well-being of another, even a parent, is the best thing you can do for yourself and your dad. If he ever decides he needs help, I’m sure you will be there for him. If on that day, you just can’t, the only person who needs to understand your choice is you. You need to be there for you. It’s hard and horrible and the guilt claws at you and you have to re-make that decision to walk away from a parent 10 or 100 or 1000 times, but eventually, it gets better. The only person you can really save is yourself, and it sounds like you just made the choice to save yourself. Good for you, I think you’re amazing.

    K

  17. What a heartbreaking situation. There is little you can do to help your father as he refuses to help himself.

    We can choose our friends, but sadly, not our family. So many children are hurt by abusive or neglectful parents who chose to bring a child into this world.xxxx

  18. You are so brave, I acknowledge you for your pain, you have no idea how strong and inspiring you are.

    Love,
    Daisy

  19. Helen – thank you for your support lovely xx

  20. Jorge – I couldn’t have said it better myself: ‘sperm donor’.

    I’m sorry that you have been through something similar with some of your family; it’s never easy.

    I hope that writing this post starts the healing process too!

  21. Priya – You’re right. I didn’t write it in the post but I DO envy people that seemingly have good relationships with their father. Mum is definitely a double parent; she’s amazing 🙂

    Thank you so much for your lovely, kind words. You are one of those very people that fill those better doors 🙂

  22. Jen – Thank you sweetheart; that means a lot. It’s one of the reasons I keep writing pieces like these; to try and document the journey xx

  23. Rhonda – I’m so sorry to hear about your father and THANK YOU for having the courage to share your story!! It’s sad to think that relationships that are supposed to last a lifetime can end so quickly seemingly because of nothing but pride and cowardice. It seems like our fathers were similar in some ways so it’s ‘good’ to know we’re not alone.

    I’m glad that you have found your peace and I hope I go on to find mine. Thank you again for talking openly Rhonda x

  24. CounterIntuitive – You’re right; I definitely felt like I needed to write that post for myself to let it all out. And thank you for your sweet words x

  25. Leah – thank you sweet!

  26. Erik – that means a lot, thank you.

  27. Ryan – I literally don’t know what to say; your comment brought tears to my eyes. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. There is a reason people like you to come into peoples lives; to shine an eternal light. Thank you again sweetheart xx

  28. Mark – People always have private battles I suppose; they just don’t want to speak about them usually.

    And thank you for saying I am not my father’s daughter; that means a lot; truly. Hugs to you too for Bea x

  29. Tammy – thank you; I’m learning to let go in the hopes I will no longer be weighed down by my guilt.

  30. Ali – Sorry I made you cry! Thank you for your heartfelt words; you are so kind. As I said, he’s not the worst father in the world but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t still hurt me so I’m hoping, as you said, that by writing the letter I can begin to start to let go. Baby steps, right?

  31. Flip – Thank you for the virtual hug – I can feel it x

  32. Beth – I’m so very sorry to hear about your father. I know what you mean about ‘losing’ him before he died; they become different people. My mum always said that I was the parent instead of the child in my relationship with my father so I suppose it’s time I accepted that I need to move on.

    Thank you for sharing your story x

  33. Heather – Is it weird that despite writing the letter, I don’t feel I have the right words either?

    I’m sorry to hear about your family and how badly it has affected you; no one should have to feel like that. I hope you can find a resolution in the physical and emotional sense.

    Thank you for your lovely sentiments hun x

  34. Katie – Thank you so much for writing this for me. I think you’re so right; ultimately we have to look after ourselves and if we can justify decisions to ourselves then that’s all that matters. Thankfully, what makes it easier is that all of my family also believe in my choice this time which means one less burden I need to carry.

    As you said – I think I just made a choice to save myself and I shall continue to try and do so. Thank you for your support Katie x

  35. Snowbird – I take great comfort in my friends and have done for many years. Dad was, I don’t believe, not ‘designed’ to have a child; it just took me a while to realise x

  36. Daisy – thank you; that’s so very kind of you to say! I really appreciate it Daisy x

  37. I do not know what to write. My heart broke reading this, for you then, now and for you in the future. I just want you to know that all of us have our family secrets and it’s how you push past them, that makes you special. You’ve done that already and you continue to push yourself. Biggest hugs.

  38. Pingback: Reclaiming Your Future The day you get told you have an incurable illness » Reclaiming Your Future

  39. Victorie S.

    Toni,
    I’m 40 something and have a homeless father. I totally forgive him for everything. You cannot imagine what it is to be them because we choose to be us. It is an illness they have. No excuses but truth. They believe what they see for themselves…denial. I love my father so much for good and bad. I love

    -1
  40. Victorie S.

    I go looking for him and always hope the best for him. You see we are here for such a short while and to HATE is something closer to death. I forgive and let love light up my soul. I love you and truly believe your life has true meaning. You are previous and truly worth more than the stars in the sky. Your father was there to help make you. You were not born to die…but to live. Make no mistake you will see good things only good things lie before us. Enjoy your life and set your goals and go to vacation (Disneyland) we are never to old to experience the wonders of this beautiful world. ~Victorie

  41. Victoria – such a beautiful comment and I’m sorry to hear that you are in a similar situation; it’s never easy. Much love to you! x

  42. seattlegirl123

    I am going through this exact same thing right this minute. I have been trying to find a home for my homeless father who has had a recent stroke. He can no longer do for himself. I also had contact with him through the years, but I find myself asking why am I doing this?What will happen if I bring him home? Does he have mental issues? Does he creep woman out? What habits did he pick up living off the street? I know nothing about him and at the same time know a lot about him. I wish someone could say the right answer. I have always been taught to care of my family members.

  43. Brittni

    This was posted a long time ago and I’m not sure if you keep up with this post, or this site, but I wanted to leave a response nonetheless. I have a homeless father as well. Our stories aren’t exactly the same, but they aren’t very far apart either.
    My dad and mom were never married. He got into heavy drugs when I was first born. My mom, 20 years old and on her own, decided to take me and leave him for our own good. I never saw much of him. His calls throughout my young life were scarce and very spaced out. I’d go months and even years without ever hearing a word from him. I became convinced he hated me and just wanted nothing to do with me. Every birthday I wished and wished that he would show up to my birthday parties. Just one, at least! He never did.
    My mom shielded me from the truth about my dad throughout my childhood to protect my heart. She didn’t want my young mind polluted by something so heavy, so nasty. I later found out that all of those years that I barely heard anything from him, he was in and out of jail. He would write me letters and draw me pictures from time to time, when he knew our address, but she never told me where they were sent from. Not until I was older. He was doing drugs every year that went by. He never stopped (and still hasn’t). We had a few visits throughout my childhood where he would promise to take me to Six Flags. He’d make all sorts of promises and every time they didn’t come true, my heart broke a little bit. Every time his phone number changed and he disappeared, my heart broke a little bit. I chased a father that may as well have been vapor. When I was 15 my aunt, who is endlessly inappropriate, told me about my dad being a drug addict. She told me everything, besides that he had become homeless. My mom was outraged, that’s not how she wanted me to find out. I was outraged as well. I couldn’t believe it. I was so angry that my mom hid that from me. One day after that, my dad randomly called me. I was so excited. He said he wanted to see me, so I gave him our address. Little did I know, that was a mistake. He seemed weird to me. He was always a stranger, but I didn’t like to think of it that way. He came over to our house when I got off of school and my mom was still at work. He showed up on a bike and that was strange to me. I let him in the house and he made scrambled eggs for me. I was so thrilled. My dad. In my kitchen. In front of me where I could see him. He’d never cooked for me before!
    5 o’clock came around and mom got home from work. She was all smiles when she saw me, but when she came around the corner and saw who was standing in her kitchen, her face dropped. I knew I’d done something wrong. After that, he would show up to our house all the time, uninvited. Sometimes he would come inside and wait for my mom, saying he missed her and wanted to see her, but he would chicken out and leave before she got home, telling me not to tell her that he was ever there. I listened. For a little while at least. There were all sorts of things, behind the scenes, that my mom didn’t want to tell me. She didn’t want to frighten me. A few years later she told me he would show up to where she worked looking for her. Asking for her and saying he had gifts for her. We moved and my mom told me that my dad was sick and that I could never tell him where we lived again. I was no longer naive. He would call me, more and more, obsessively. I wasn’t used to hearing from him at all, much less multiple times a day, every day. He started telling me about things he would see, things voices would tell him. He kept saying he saw my mom and I in places and cars we’d never been, never driven. He started telling me he was going to kill himself because no one cared about him. It terrified me. I bawled and bawled and told my mom in a panic and she looked so sad for me, so exhausted. She told me that my dad had said that to everyone, for most of my life. She told me he wouldn’t really do it. She went into depth about his sickness, and told me that it was a mental illness due to his drug use over the years. I broke contact with him for a year or so. I couldn’t take the negativity that he emitted anymore.

    One day, I was seventeen and had just started driving. I was driving to starbucks and saw a man on a bike with a ponytail. He was very dirty, not facing me. I could only see his back, but I had a feeling. I whipped my car around and went in the same direction as the man with the ponytail, and sped up to see his face. It was in fact, my dad. He told me about how he’d been sleeping behind a dumpster. He’s really casual about those things. He told me about how he biked from my town to New Orleans (New Orleans is 30 minutes away from my hometown) and lived there under a bridge for a year. He came back to my town after he was released from jail for breaking into an art exhibit and destroying a painting that he swears was disrespectful to his mother. It was a blue, naked woman. (he later went into depth about the incident and it’s elaborate and insane, but I won’t bore you with those details.)

    Agh, there is just an endless list of things I could tell you about between he and I, but I related so much to when you said
    “You are my shameful secret. If I don’t have to speak about you to anyone, I won’t. If you were anyone but my father, I would have walked out of your life when I started to see you for the manipulative and controlling monster you really were. Instead, you pushed everyone away and left me being the only person you had in the world despite the fact I wanted nothing to do with you. We, as a society, are told to look after our parents no matter what; ‘love unconditionally’ as they say but why? You have done nothing to deserve my respect, help or love”

    In the last couple of years, I have exhausted myself emotionally, trying to help him. Trying to be there for him because I was the last person who cared. I can’t endure those feelings anymore. Our last phone call he told me I can go fuck myself and hung up on me.
    That was that for me. I don’t care what he’s up to, but I know his and my journey isn’t over. He will resurface and I will feel the need, as his daughter, to help him.