the (open) letter to my father that he will never read



Yesterday, I decided to find you.

I tried, I tried so very hard, to not need anything from you. I tried to convince myself that I could move on without you; that I could carry on with my life somehow, without ever getting an apology. I gave it my all, I swear I did. I sweat and bled and broke, trying to be strong enough to do this without you. I told everyone around me that I was over what you had done to me, that I was over needing anything from you. I told everyone around me; I spouted it and bragged about it, hoping that it would sink into my pores and into my heart and into my soul and into that little girl that desperately needed her daddy’s love.

I tried, Dad. I tried … but I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t do it, because the truth is that I needed you. I longed and ached for you. I didn’t need an apology, I didn’t want an apology. What I wanted, more than anything in this world, was a hug. I lived for that moment where I would find you, and you would wrap your hands around my little body and hold me tight and tell me, “Erica, I love you.” Yes, I lived for that moment … and despite all of the bad, bad things that I have experienced in my life, and despite how harshly I have been beaten down and despite how I had lost hope for everything else, I still believed in you. I believed in you, Dad.

In my head, you were no monster. You were beautiful. You weren’t a drug addict, you weren’t a murderer, you weren’t a woman-beater, you weren’t racist. You were pure. In my head, you were God. I pitied you; I felt so sorry for all of the pain that must be inside of you, to make you act in the ways that you did. Oh how I built you up so very, very high. If you would have just given me a chance, a moment of your time, you would have been in awe of the man I made you out to be. And you would have loved it. You were so very beautiful to me, Dad.

I didn’t blame you for the perils of my life. I didn’t blame you for abandoning me. I didn’t blame you for forgetting about me. I didn’t blame you for taking an innocent child’s trust and sabotaging it for the rest of her life. I didn’t blame you for calling me once every few years, offering your love, and then taking it away just as quickly as it came. I didn’t blame you for beating those women. I didn’t blame you for killing that woman. I didn’t blame you for beating my sister. I didn’t blame you for beating my brother. I didn’t blame you for disappearing. I didn’t blame you for me crying myself to sleep every single night. I didn’t blame you for me deciding that, at age 3, I was going to be forever unlovable. I didn’t blame you for choosing drugs over being a human being. I didn’t blame you for picking me up that one time, telling me how proud you were of me, and then walking away forever. I didn’t even blame you for the fact that I couldn’t accept the love of this great, great man in front of me, offering me everything I had ever needed. I didn’t blame you for anything, Dad. Not one single fucking thing. 

Because I loved you. And because I needed you to love me too.

Yesterday, I found you. After more than ten years, I decided it was time. I had my fiance next to me, keeping me safe, and I finally felt ready to try. I told him that I didn’t need anything; that I was prepared for the worst … but it wasn’t true. As I sat in the car, while he looked up your address online, I appeared calm. I appeared calm. I wasn’t. Inside of me, was little me. She was jumping up and down, up and down, up and down out of excitement. She had the biggest smile on her face, Dad, you wouldn’t believe how big that smile was! She was about to see her Daddy, and he was going to see her and run to her and pick her up and hold her close and tell her how much he had loved her all along.

We drove to your apartment, and the butterflies flew inside of me. My fiance hugged me tightly, knowing already how this would turn out. You see, he was not in denial and he did not paint a pretty picture. He knew you, without knowing you .. but still, he tried, for me. He instructed me to write a note, just in case you did not want to see me. What would I say to you? Surely, you wouldn’t turn me away! So on the back of a receipt, I quickly scribbled,

I just wanted to let you know that I love you and I just wanted to hear it back someday.
❤ Erica”

I didn’t think the note would be needed, but I gave it to him anyway.
And then he was gone; walking away to knock on your door.

I sat. And I sat. And I sat. I waited and waited and waited. I even put on my shoes, because I was so sure that you were going to want to see me. I fixed my hair, and I fixed my makeup, and I sat.

Yesterday, Dad, I found you.
And yesterday, Dad, you turned me away.

I did not cry. I did not cry because I believed that my fiance must have found the wrong man. I did not cry because surely, surely, you would not have reacted in that way. I did not cry. And I did not blame you. There must have been a reason, a reason why you would turn me away. A reason. We startled you, we should have called, you were scared. Anything, everything; I did not blame you.

But right now, as I type this Dad, I am going to blame you. I blame you, I BLAME YOU, for closing that door. I BLAME YOU for knowing that you are dying, and not giving me any chance for clarity. It was your choice, it was your decision. And you closed that door. You. You. You.

I blame you for breaking my young, fragile heart.

I blame you for that.

I still have not cried, Dad. I am sure that I will, but I haven’t yet. I am sure that the hole you left inside of me will continue to ache, and I am sure that I will someday soon cry. But I also know that I will try my hardest to never again cry for you. I want to finally be able to cry for myself and for the pain you caused me, not for you.

It may not have been you at that door yesterday, but it doesn’t matter. You closed the door on me a very long time ago, and it is a daily battle for me to believe that it was not my fault. That little girl was not lacking anything, that little girl was good enough. She deserved your love. I deserved your love.  And whenever I think of you, from this day forward, I will remind myself of that.

The saddest part, maybe of all, is that you probably have & will never be loved by anyone, as much as you were loved by me.



303 thoughts on “the (open) letter to my father that he will never read

  1. Hi Erica,
    I am in the opposite corner. For very personal reasons, I will never get chance to tell my youngest daughter how much I love her, how much she means to me and how proud I am of her and all my other children.
    My daughter lives less than 10 miles away, yet I will probably never see or talk to her again. I know I will never again be part of her life and my heart breaks every day with that thought though she is never ever far from my mind.
    From a father who loves his daughter but cannot be with her to a daughter that loves a father who she cannot be with, please know that a stranger loves you on your fathers behalf for being so honest about your feelings and understands the heartbreak you are going through.

  2. It’s harder when he was there every day but gone the whole time. I have found a father in friends & family & Bill Cosby & God. Good luck.

  3. I grew up without my mom when I needed her most. So in a way I know the pain and heartbreak that comes with being a little girl only wanting to be loved. I felt your pain so intensely because I have carried my own for many years. I sobbed so hard that my lungs wanted to give out from the soul crushing bone smashing heart breaking pain you so bravely shared here. I commend you for blogging about it. I challenge you to go a few steps farther and commit to letting everything-your past, your pain, your loss, your uncertainty, and your feelings of inadequacy- let everything fuel you to rise above and use your experience for a greater good. Girls like us have a tragic past but through our tragic past we are given a true blessing. A true gift!
    Stay with me here. I, too, had the same reaction years ago when I was challenged.
    Girls like us are the only ones that get it. We understand each other because we share the same pain. There is a greater tragedy and its this- girl needs parent and grows up without. She meets the love of her life and overlooks his faults no matter what. They have children and then the cycle continues. The pain from the past tears the marriage apart piece by piece. The kids are faced with more pain of the same. So choose a man that truly loves you and who will love your kids and never hurt your children like you were hurt. Sounds like you already covered that.
    Love does heal and time smooths the rough moments. But I promise you that if you take your pain and use it to help others that it will heal in a way you never imagined. It will set things right by mending the most broken parts of your soul and change the cycle for your future generations.
    If you don’t mind I will be praying for you to find healing and that your heart will be mended and reinforced. I thank you for your blog and look forward to reading more of your story. Stay strong and believe me when I say that there will come a day when you look back and see your journey served a true purpose.
    True Character builds when toils are painstaking
    Adversity gives perspective to all still needing
    Wisdom is entrusted to those who continue surviving
    Healing is granted to those that never cease believing

    • Your words are so true. It is that the cycle is often continued. I have been through abuse as a child. Then married an abusive man because he said he loved me. I did not think that anyone could love me. When I had children of my own I realized that I would not allow them to live through what I had. I am a stronger person and I like and love myself. Life isn’t always easy but it is a gift we are all given. If these stories can help one person to break the cycle then they are priceless. Our stories, our lives can help others. Thank you to all those brave enough to put them into the written word for many to read.

    • “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.”

      #gratitude #lifeisanoffering #spiritualgeometry
      #floweroflife #beatifulstory

      • You are doing more than trying. You are DOING! Keep up the good work and stay positive. There is a silver lining in every single negative. You just have to look a little harder some days. But if you make the effort to look for the positive no matter how negative the situation….you will soon see how your perspective on life will transform before your very eyes. Thoughts lead to words. Follow thru comes from turning words into actions. You are an amazing soul and beautiful from your very core. Smile love!!! Always smile even when tears are falling- smile. *Hugs*

  4. Even though I’m still young-an early teen-do know how your feel. My dad was obusive-both he and my mom drank, did drugs, you name it. One time my dad got so drunk he yelled right into my 6 year old face and yelled, ”You are NOT my childyu little B****!Get out of my sight before I do something that’ll give me a life sentence in prison!”All the while staring at my mom, who was trying to reassure me he was my dad,in disgust. Currently, they don’t drinknd they see me and my sistera on weekends, but Ivg will Never forget how my moms voice sounded false like I wasnt his and she has cheated before… Even though I watch his every move like a hawk, I still love him some and I occasionally go out of my way to point out similarities, though I don’t want to Have to try to get him townt to be my dad. And it always gets ro me the fact that my mom chose himm stead of me and my sister.

    • You sound so beautifully strong. I hope you allow yourself to appreciate that strength of yours. I’m so sorry about what you have and are dealing with, but keep your head up. Sometimes, we have to be our own hero’s and our own parent’s, and sometimes that’s okay (even thought it hurts so so badly). Email me anytime.

  5. Pingback: The [open] Letter to my Father that he will never read | Chimerical Chicanery

  6. Pingback: The Art of the Open Letter | The Daily Post

  7. I get off work in 19 hours and I cant hardly stand it. After reading this I want to leave work NOW and go pick up my little girl and just hold her. Thanks for opening your heart, I think it will help us all be better parents.

  8. I hear you from this side of the world. 🙂
    I hope things are well at your end and if your dad chose it that way, leave him be.. at least you tried and did your best to reach him. You are loved by many, and God loves you, too. 🙂

  9. It’s hard to “like” such a raw piece of writing, and one that pierces my heart. But there isn’t a “I was touched by this” button, so…
    I hope you find a way to put your father’s behavior in perspective and to not blame yourself for his shortcomings. You reached out and that was a sweet thing to do. He may not have deserved it. Love yourself, and love the people in your life who are there for you 🙂

  10. Erica,
    My name is also Erica. I grew up fatherless with heartaches so awfully similar to yours. I hurt when I read this because I can identify with all of the hopes that a daughter could have in her father. I finally met him only weeks ago for the first time… it was strange and awkward, it was 30 years late. To take my husband and children to meet my father was so against how life ought to be. I think of the memory loss that I have because he simply did not pursue a relationship with me when he knew I existed. But, even in my loss, I found hope in God. He is the Father to the fatherless and loved and accepted me even with all of my sin, insecurities, and voids. He sent His Son to die for me because He loved me (and everyone else too) and I took His gift of salvation. I couldn’t deal with these heartaches if I weren’t His child. I pray you will know this same peace. Your love and forgiveness is inspiring… I hope you will be able to create a wonderful home where your children only know the depths of these hurts by the stories that you tell them someday. Hugs to you!

  11. Your words have empowered me and made me realise that my own Little Girl – that small girl inside me that is still so innocent, naive and full of hope – is not at fault and that she was worthy of love.

    I was not abandoned by my parents, not in that sense, but at the same time, I can completely relate to what you’re saying. I am an abuse survivor and for the three years since its happened – despite therapy – I still blame myself. I still love my abuser (that sounds weirder than it should), I still feel bad that he is rotting behind bars whilst his daughter (not me) is left without a mother or father. For those three years, when I was only 13, I was that little girl’s mother. I helped raise her and protect her from the hands of her father. Instead, I let him use me, to save her. I convinced myself that he did it out of love…that he loved me, but now I know that I was nothing to him. I viewed him as everything to me…and I was nothing to him.

    Your words have struck me and have given me clarity. You’re an inspiration! Thank-you so much!

  12. It was so good, hard, weakening and yet strengthening to read your post, I can not even count how often I have started a letter to my dad, which I am sure he would read, and yet never had the courage to send it, as I know it would change nothing, the thought of putting myself out there in such a way, was always too terrifying.

    Maybe one day, I will be able to blame him as well, maybe one day, I will finally realize that it is he, who I should blame, that he is the one who should have been there for me, and that no blame, was with me and my siblings, or especially my mother, I can say it, maybe one day, I will feel it.

    thank you!

    • Putting myself out there … that was most terrifying at all. I almost wanted to just “not know” for the rest of my life. Ultimately though, I tried. And it hurts that it ended the way that it did. I’d be lying though if I said that I didn’t still have some hope left …

      I too hope that the “one day” will come … but it takes time.

  13. Erica, I don’t even know what to say. This post is filled with so much sorrow yet with so much courage. I can sense so much love and hatred here, all mixed up in your heart. I do, however, admire you for being so strong, patient, understanding, and forgiving despite your father’s treatment towards you. If I may say, you deserve more than what he is giving you – or not giving you. You are a beautiful young woman who has the entire world before you; and he, despite being your father, does not deserve to be the sole hindrance to you moving forward, to you finding peace, to you being successful, and to you being whole. I know that his absence may have created a hole in your heart, but I hope that his negative response does not make the hole bigger. Rather, I hope that it seals that hole and removes the uneasiness within you. You are bigger than your heartache. I hope that you will soon find peace. Remember the good times, and think of beautiful things. And Erica, here’s a virtual hug to help you be at ease.

  14. Wow that was deep. I understand that pain and the lasting effects it has on the life you have as an adult. We have to continue fighting the daily battles and make our kids life better than the ones we experienced. Hope your still fighting!

  15. You can’t control how others think or behave. All you can do is live a good life. So often we seem to grant others – parents or not – the generous assumption that if they don’t like us it must be a problem with us. When usually they are the problem.

  16. I think you are amazing. I read your blog and cried. I had a similar situation, them my dad came home to die. I took care of him full time for 5 years, he died in my arms this past January.
    I lived for 40 years, wondering what the hell I did, to be so abused, then forgotten. He walked away from a half beaten to death woman with 5 kids to raise alone.
    But, he came back and I stood up, and I’m glad I did. He might not have been the daddy i wanted or deserved, but he was the only one I had.
    Blessed be little one. I hope you find peace.


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