Dear Dad…

waterDear Dad

I rarely think of you. You see once I’d forgiven you there was nothing left to think about. Occasionally though your presence from the past surfaces. And when it does  I wish I could look you in the eye and say ‘Have you any idea what you did to me?’

I’ll tell you. You stole my childhood. You destroyed my self-esteem. You crushed my spirit.

There’s more. You made me feel insignificant and worthless. You made me feel unloved. You made me believe I would never deserve anything because I was never good enough.

Even when I grew up and moved from country to country, you pursued me. Not out of love but out of a need to control. You didn’t have to be with me in person, because you always found a way to make sure that I knew you were still there.

You needn’t have bothered to hire that stalker, send the hate mail, make the threatening phone calls to my work colleagues, terrify my friends. Because your voice of abuse never left me anyway. It was there day and night.

For a long time, you won Dad. You won your crazy game.

You kept on winning even after you died. I didn’t expect that. Somehow I thought that your death would terminate my living hell and I would be free to get on with my life.  But I was so used to living in fear that it had become my normality. The damage had been done. With or without you I was a complete mess physically and emotionally.

“I stopped loving my father a long time ago. What remained was the slavery to a pattern.”  ~ Anais Nin

Actually I felt quite cheated that you died suddenly. You see I remember how much you hated alcohol, and I remember you telling me as a teenager that you would prefer I get pregnant rather than drunk. So you never knew that alcohol became my ‘hurt healer.’ It numbed me from the pain and helped me to manage your manipulation.

For a while it felt like I was winning. I was getting my own back and you didn’t even know it. But the self-medication slowly grew into addiction. So while other fathers leave their daughters a legacy of inspiration and love, I was left with alcoholism and depression.

But that was many years ago and this is now. Without you to sabotage my every move I have been able to reclaim my life and rediscover my identity. I fought my way back into the game and this time I am winning.

It’s true that sometimes when I face an emotional challenge, especially where there is a man involved, I think of you. It’s the moment when  the insecurities and the self-doubt return and I sense your spirit whisper ‘Told you so.’

Today though, I am able to recognise your words the lies that they are and can send them back to where they belong. Out of my mind. Out of my life.

I wish you had been kinder Dad. I wish you had been there to protect me. I wish you had been there to encourage me. Imagine how different my life could have been if I’d had a hero for a Dad instead of an abuser.

Too late now. For you. Not for me. Because I’m still here.

And if you could see me now I think even you would be proud of me. But if you weren’t that would be okay. Because I’m of proud myself.

I found out that I was good enough. I always was.

daisy blog

From your daughter                               ~ The Hurt Healer

Image thanks to Nicholas_Gent

32 thoughts on “Dear Dad…

  1. Pingback: Treatment Talk – 4 Lessons I Learned From My Dad's Alcoholism | Treatment Talk

  2. I wish I could have shared MY DAD with you 🙂
    Mom was the tough but still tried to give us everything
    Now my ex was ill like your Dad but mine drank
    The abuse I allowed him to dole out on me is sickening now that I am getting stronger.

    Sorry for all the years you lost too

  3. What you have shared I have no doubt will resonate with so many, sadly. Your rise to win is inspiring and I will keep you in my prayers to stay strong and believing in your wonderfulness…but more than that it is stories like yours that motivate and fuel my passion to educate parents about the power they have in their children’s lives and to hopefully inspire them to make choices to benefit the success of their children rather than feed their own egotistical needs. Blessings!

    • You have hit it right on the head Denny! As parents we have so much power over our children’s lives. No parent is perfect but we can choose to build up our children not to destroy them, and to help them onto a bright future not one trapped in the past. Thank you for all your encouragement Denny 🙂

  4. Hi Carolyn, I like the way that you note that alcohol used to be your “hurt healer,” but now you have transitioned into the role of healing your own hurts — and also into the archetypal “wounded healer” who can bring that gift to others.

    • Thank you Chris! I love that notion of being the archetypal ‘wounded healer’. It took me so long to stop looking at other things to heal me, and start looking within. Still on the road to recovery but at least I’m enjoying the journey now!

  5. Carolyn, except for a detail here and there, I could have written this post myself – the spirit and message of it, anyway. My father is still alive (but thank goodness leaves me alone), but my mother died a few years ago, and I have still not been able to free myself from that “voice” they instilled in me, the self-doubt and crushed spirit they left me with, which makes me feel I have failed, because I’ve never been able to free myself from that legacy. I’ve said, out loud, so many times that I forgive them, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I’m still haunted. It’s still a struggle, every day, to believe in my own self-worth.

  6. This is so moving, Carolyn. For me, especially ‘I wish you’d been kinder… imagine how…’ Part of this grief is what has been lost or missing. You speak so eloquently about it.

  7. I am proud of you, Carolyn. I never knew my Dad – he left for the US just 2-3 months before I was born, abandoned my Mom and settle there with an American wife. But my dear friend, I held you in my heart as I read your post. Huge hugs. Love you.

    • It’s an awful thing to be abandoned by your Dad Vidya. And knowing that he went on to settle with someone other than your mother is painful. You have also had a courageous journey to make. So glad we met! xo

  8. I’m cheering you on Carolyn…having reached a similiar stage in my healing from abusive parents, it warms my heart to know that we can reclaim our lives.

  9. Beautiful Carolyn!! I love this part, “Too late now. For you. Not for me. Because I’m still here.

    And if you could see me now I think even you would be proud of me. But if you weren’t that would be okay. Because I’m of proud myself.

    I found out that I was good enough. I always was.”

    YOU are so strong and courageous and never give up. Thank you for all you do and your willingness to share your story so that others may see and then seek and find their way out.

  10. Carolyn, this is so powerful. My heart breaks when I think of you, the little girl, having to suffer such abuse from both your parents. Life can be so unfair. You are a beacon of hope to others who are in similar situations and I’m sure they feel comfort from reading your words. xoxo

  11. Carolyn, this is so moving and so heart-wrenching. To have suffered so at the hands of the one who should love you the most is to experience cruelty beyond words. Yet your words express it so perfectly. To have got to where you are is the greatest of victories. Warmest wishes to you, Ruth

  12. This one gave me chills, hits a little too close here. We can’t go back and get back our childhoods. We can only imagine what a loving heroic dad would be like, and what we would be like now growing up with a dad like that. One of my favorite things to imagine, but also a dangerous road for me to start on, because I can’t dream away my past or my reality. Have to accept me as I am.

    • I suspect that this post may hit a few nerves with those who have also had difficult relationships with their dads. So sorry that this is also the case for you. I’m glad you can accept yourself for who you are. You are a beautiful and strong woman. xo

  13. Wow Carolyn, I so admire and respect your spirit, bravery and honesty. Also, YES, you always were and ARE good enough. I am so glad that you have found this to be true and that you are living it and helping so many others find their way through too. x

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