It’s 9 p.m on a breezy summer night when my daughter’s bedroom door cracks open and out strolls a tired little girl with streams of salty tears flowing over her rosy cheeks. Her blonde hair mats to her face as she tries to wipe the tears away. She takes a few more steps, makes sure I’m looking at her, and says, “Momma, can I ask you something?”
Before this sweet little girl can ask her question, though, she breaks out into a full sob. I quietly meet her halfway, sit down on the floor, and usher her into my lap. I wrap my arms around her shaking body and try to hold back the sadness I’m suddenly overwhelmed with because, while she hasn’t said it, I know exactly why she’s upset. She cries into the curve of my neck for what feels like hours before finally blurting out, “I just m-miss my d-daddy.”
The words both break my heart and ignite an angry fire inside my chest. I want to cry along with her, because I know the pain of missing an absentee parent all to well; I also want to get in my car, find the man who broke my baby’s heart, and beat his ass until he understands the damage he’s done. I do neither. Instead, I hold her as she cries, and when the tears slow down I let her ask the questions she’s spent a year avoiding asking.
You see, my daughter’s father was a daily part of her life from her birth until she was five. While he most certainly was not the best person, and I had to force most of his daddy-daughter interactions, he was still present. She didn’t think about the times her came at her mom, when he’d run off and pretend he was going to commit suicide so mommy and her had to drive around town looking for him, or the times he’d lock the family in the car and scream at mommy while driving erratically. No, this little girl only thought of the few good times she had with her daddy and she wanted them back. She couldn’t understand why mommy left daddy and daddy never came back around, and to be honest I didn’t either for the longest time. But I do now.
I sat on the floor, with my heartbroken seven-year-old daughter, answering her questions about why daddy was really not around and what drug addiction and “trouble with the law” means. I reiterated to her that his absence was not because of anything she did or didn’t do, and tried my best to explain to a child how adults can make as bad of decisions as her father has. When she was finally satisfied with what I’d told her, I brought her back to her room and tucked her into bed. It’s when I closed her bedroom door and heard her sniffling that shattered my heart all over again.
So, here’s my letter to the father who abandoned his little girl for no reason other than pure selfishness.
Dear Absentee “Father,”
There’s a million things I want to say to you– no, scream at your stupid smirking face in regards to the unbelievable damage you left me and our child in, but I know it wouldn’t go anywhere even if I could. It’s been well over a year and a half since we’ve seen you and while I am entirely content with your absence, your little girl is not, and I have some serious words for you.
How do you sleep at night, knowing there is a child out there that shares half your DNA and you’ve voluntarily walked away from her? How could you do that to a child you spent five years raising after experiencing it yourself from your own birth father? Did you think you turned out well enough that it was okay to do the same to your own child? And if so, do you really think you’ve turned out alright? Last time I checked, being homeless, jobless, and on drugs isn’t what society deems as “turning out alright.”
Your daughter misses you. Your daughter spent all last weekend searching for you in every face she saw when we visited the city you supposedly still live in. Can you imagine the heartbreak she felt when she never saw it? She loves you, despite all the trauma you caused us and the fact you willingly walked out of her life, and she can’t wrap her head around your absence. I know you probably don’t even care, but this little girl is aching for a father-daughter relationship she can’t have and the fact you aren’t too confuses the hell out of me. For that, I hope you rot in hell one day.
You were blessed with a beautiful, intelligent, creative little girl; one who still looked up to you and idolized you despite all of your flagrant flaws, and you left her. And for what? Your shitty girlfriend who got you hooked on the drugs you do? Your shitty friends who enable your party lifestyle? Your shitty mother, who aided your disgusting habits behind your family’s back and continues to do the same today? I hope the drugs are worth it. I hope the alcohol is worth it. I hope the girls and the partying is worth it. I hope it fills every void you’ve felt your entire life–and have now started in your own child. I hope, at the end of this, you can say you’re happy with who you’ve become.
And, years down the road, when you reach a point where you realize you’re not happy with the choices you’ve made and you decide you want to come back in like the tornado you are and play daddy, I hope you reconsider. You made your choice to walk out. You chose the women and the booze and the drugs over your daughter, and it isn’t her job to fill the void you can’t seem to fill when it becomes convenient for you. In all sincerity, A, I hope you never come back around. While she might struggle now, and it breaks my heart to see her hurting, you made your bed; keep laying in it. My daughter is strong and resilient, and surrounded by more love now than she has ever been with your presence. She’ll be okay, despite the hurt right now, and you get no claim in the incredible woman she will become.
Oh, you’ve missed out on an incredible child. Since you seem to have forgotten, she turned seven at the end of April (she’s still waiting for those birthday presents you promised two years ago, by the way). She’s in baseball and hella good at it. She’s curious about the world and incredibly close to my boyfriend, who treats her more like his daughter in the short time he’s been in our lives than you ever did in the five years you were lucky to have. She loves fishing and disc golfing, and dogs more than anything. Her laugh is contagious and her smile is radiant. With all sincerity, you were fucking stupid for walking out on her.
I’d say take care or that I wish you the best, but I don’t wish you a goddamn thing. May you be as miserable and insecure as you tried to make us.