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I don't even know where to begin really. To simply say I had a rough childhood would be an understatement. To go into explicit detail would take too long and expel too much emotional energy. Also, I'm not sure that I can really write it all out yet. I've started. I've sat here for the past two weeks staring at this screen with words brimming over. Words crowding the page, gathering like dirty laundry on my bed and floor, covering the walls, hanging from the ceiling. All of these words which translate into all of these memories.
And yet, I have to say something. I have to. All of the things I cannot say and have not said and possibly will never say. Somewhere, I have to.
My mother left my father for the last time in the middle of the night, during a bad storm. The next day, we went back for more things and the apartment was destroyed. Tape ripped from cassettes, stuffing from furniture littering the floor like snow. Photos cut in half, broken glass, the car gone. Police saying there was not much recourse that could be taken. You can't be arrested for things like that. The only room that remained untouched was the room I shared with my siblings. That had to count for something, I guess.
Days turned into months that turned into years without a word. Then one weekend, my mother dropped my siblings and I off at my Nana's house. She told us to walk to the back room. There he was. I thought I was dreaming. I didn't know whether to feel elated, scared or angry, so I just didn't feel. I was 8 or 9 at the time and part of me wanted to believe he was back for good, but in my heart I knew he wasn't. One by one, he took us to Kmart and told us we could get whatever we wanted. The Ballerina and Casanova took full advantage, getting expensive new toys. When it was my turn, I cried. He got frustrated, because I just stared down the aisle. Finally, I picked a few small things and we left. Whatever joy I had to see him was overshadowed by the guilt I felt as we drove back to Nana's house. He was mad at me. I had failed in some way during that trip. Maybe that was his way of trying to make amends with his kids for his extended absence and I neglected to play along. Whatever the reason, I never saw him again. He left that day and it was like he disappeared all over again.
When I was 16 or 17, The Ballerina told me she had hired a private detective to find him. In her hand, she held the number. We shook as we dialed. He sounded so happy to hear from us, as if we had just talked the day prior. He said he wanted to see us. We talked only a few times after that and always about making plans for him to visit. Then nothing again. I started to call and there would be no answer. Finally, a lady answered and said I had the wrong number.
I was about 4 or 5 months pregnant with Bug when I received the next call. He asked me how I was doing. I was eating lunch out with friends and it felt like my world had stopped. I told him I would call him back. It took two weeks for me to get up the nerve. We had one thirty minute conversation while I was on my lunch break at work. I tried to ask him about everything and he dismissed it. He called me a few times after, but I couldn't make myself answer anymore. I began to have panic attacks. Mr. B told me I had to stop talking to him until the baby was born. I knew he was right, it wasn't healthy for the baby. And that was that...
until I got a friend request on Facebook from him at the first of this year. I spent a lot of time on my message:
"I'm not sure how to proceed with this. First, I guess I should say that I'm not ready to accept your friend request. It's not out of spite or resentfulness or anything of that nature. In fact, I'm not mad anymore. I'm just trying to piece together the events from my childhood as best as I can to understand more about you, mom, both of your parents and the outside influences. I understand that you were both young and not ready for children. I understand too, that times were tough and neither of you knew the true weight of caring for three children with little money and with being so young. That neither of you were perfect. That you both made mistakes.
With these things being said, none of that was mine, *The Ballerina's or *Casanova's fault. We didn't ask to be born. We didn't ask for the type of childhoods that we endured in your absence. Any feelings that we have felt or feel now are valid and should be treated as such.What I'm looking for is acceptance of responsibility for the past. For your anger issues. For all the years that we never saw or heard from you. For all of the birthdays that came and went without so much as a card. For all of the wondering where you were and if you were ever coming back and if you loved us or ever thought of us.
You need to own your mistakes. This is your chance to show true character and remorse. I cannot move forward with the healing process nor can we attempt to mend our relationship without this.If you are willing to take that step, I would be willing to try too."
-Names changed to protect my siblings
I waited apprehensively for his response. And it came today. I didn't expect it to read the way it did.
"I do own up to all my mistakes and whatever you think I did wrong within reason, I will not own up too some supposed anger issues, I never abused my kids or my wife. Was I upset when *mother* couldn't take 5 min to write me a letter when I was in Desert storm, when people I didn't even know wrote me 3 to 4 times a week for the 10 months I was their? of course i was upset but I didn't take my anger out on my kids. Or when her Mom told me she had been cheating on me? Yep I was very Upset but again I didn't take my anger out on my kids.
I was the one working 80 hours a week and at times 2 jobs just to take care of my family, I wont even bother to tell you what *mother* was doing because its not about pointing fingers, If You want to believe I was a Really bad Father with Anger issues and somehow You, *siblings* and Your mother were Abused ???
As for wondering where I was?? Really? *mother* knew and my Mom knew , The 1st year me and *mother* were separated I visited you kids at my Moms house - including B-days and Christmas. Again Kinda hard to accept my mistakes when I its a wide open statement, If You would be willing to Talk through it and point out or tell me what it is You think I've done wrong? I would be glad to talk about it.
-again names omitted to protect my family
I'm speechless. There are so many things wrong with this letter and I don't even know where to start. And right now, it hurts too much to try.
That was last night and I'm still paralyzed by the words. I feel like I'm 9 all over again and I'm watching him drive away for the last time. I feel like I'm 7, surveying the destruction in our apartment
the night after my mother left my father for good.
I dialed his number this morning. His voicemail came on. Beep. Silence. My voice caught in my throat. What could I say? Where to even begin? I hung up. And then I cried until I felt even emptier.