Tuesday, 19 July 2016

A LETTER TO MY ABSENT FATHER

Dear Dad,

It feels strange calling you that. A dad is someone who comforts you when you're sad and celebrates your victories when they happen. Someone who cares for you and would do anything they possibly could to protect you. You weren't like that. 

You've been absent from my life since I was five years old and I don't have any memories of you from those first five years. Our paths have crossed and divided again numerous times in the last 15 years and honestly? I think I prefer it this way. Growing up without my biological father is the best thing that ever happened to me. Yes, there's been times in my life that I so wished you were there for. You never saw me leave primary or secondary school, you weren't there to see me collect my exam results (I did really well, by the way), and you weren't there to see any of my pregnancy. In fact, Freya is almost 8 months old now and you still haven't met her or even made any effort to ask about her. You didn't know I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder after my teenage years were consumed by depression and self harm, and you weren't there when I was admitted into hospital because of it. You just weren't there. 

I used the word 'biological' before for a reason. I may not have grown up with you there, but I spent my teenage years at home with an absolutely amazing stepfather who, despite me throwing everything I possibly could at him, stuck by me and helped me through some of the worst times of my life. He was the one driving 4 hours a day so I could have some visitors during my stay in a psychiatric ward. He was the one who took my side during my struggle with sixth form and he was the one who travelled over 300 miles to meet my daughter when she was only hours old. He is the one who my daughter will know as 'Grandad'. 

I used to have a lot of anger towards you.  I used to feel like I wasn't good enough for you and it was my fault that you weren't interested in knowing me but, now that I have my own child, I can see that it was nothing to do with me. I'm a good person and I am more than enough for you and for anyone else. And actually, it's you that's missed out all these years. Not me. I had mum, my siblings, my friends. You simply haven't been needed. 

I had hoped that becoming a grandfather would change things. I'd hoped that maybe, just maybe, you'd take the opportunity and step up. You've already missed out on my childhood, I really hoped you wouldn't miss out on Freya's too. But alas, things just haven't worked out that way. You've made no effort to contact me since the birth of my daughter, not even to offer your congratulations in her first few weeks of life or ask how we are. I know you've seen photos of her and know all about her, but you still couldn't bring yourself to swallow your pride and at least try to make amends. But that's okay. It really, truly is. I've come to terms with the fact that you weren't there for me and probably never will be. I've survived 15 years without any of your input and I certainly don't need it now.

 And I could have been really nasty, you know? I could have completely cut you out of my daughter's life from the second she was born but I didn't. I gave you the chance to make things better. To make things right. I will never stop my daughter from seeing you. If she gets to an age where she starts asking questions about you I won't hold anything back from her. But as long as I have control over who sees my daughter and when, there will be no mention of you. She will have a Grandad Brian and a Grandad Nick. That's it. As harsh as it may seem, you have brought this upon yourself. 

I've extended the olive branch so many times over the years and I'm sorry you haven't accepted. You're missing out on such a special little girl. I can't even explain how wonderful my daughter is. You would have been honoured to know her. 

Yours Faithfully, 

Grace.