I have watched over you since before you were born, reading to you over the phone when you were still in your mother’s belly, watching you with your mother in the hospital and for every year afterwards. I volunteered to take over raising you not because I wanted to take something from your mother, but because I honestly thought I could help provide a safe and stable environment for you, and because I wanted the chance to be a dad.
You were unexpected. You were unplanned. But you were not and have never been, unloved.
And while I cannot rescue you from the choices you have made to this point, I still love you. And I am still your dad. That’s why this hurts so very much. I know we have not always had the easiest of times communicating with each other. I don’t like expressing or talking about the feelings I struggle with, your step-mother and both my ex-wives can attest to that. It was even harder to share with you, watching you struggle without knowing for sure what all was going on. I still remember the first time I really really knew how bad things were for you when I got a call from the counselor at school. She told me to ask you about something you had written in her office that day.
So when you came home, I asked, and you showed me a piece of paper that said “Sometimes I wish I was dead.” You were 10.
And in that instant my heart broke… and has remained that way for years.
I am not your friend. I am not a “yes” man. I am not going to give you everything you want and let you do everything you think you want to do. I am your dad. That means that it is my job to teach you, to care for you and to raise you to the best of my ability. I made mistakes, like all parents. I was not perfect, but I did and have and will always love you.
I wrestled with you to help let the emotions out when they were just too much. I dried your tears in so many of my shirts, I don’t think I have a one left that hasn’t had tears or snot on it. We read together, listened to old radio shows together… I thought I was doing okay. And maybe I did…
But somewhere along the way things went sideways.
Whatever the cause, illegal drugs replaced the ones the doctor proscribed to help your mood. Lying became the norm and you stole. Not just from me, but from family, friends and stores. Nothing like being surrounded by store staff demanding you to empty your pockets. We yelled, we cried. We fought, but I tried to never let go. Even in the end when I sent you out of the house to your mother’s, I never let you go completely. But to keep the rest of us, including your baby sister safe, I had to make the hard choice. That has bothered me every day these last couple years, especially as I am still seeing patterns of behavior that concern me.
It is like nothing we did, or fought for, or spent time trying to talk about or fix matters. And I cannot tell you how much that hurts. If you would believe them you can ask my friends how many hours, days, weeks, I spent agonizing over the questions of if I was doing right as a parent, how to help show you how much I loved you, how to raise you right. I cried more nights than I can remember, worried about the future. Seeing it happen now is like a nightmare I can’t wake up from. Not because it’s inescapable. You can still pull out of it. You can still fly.
But I can’t fix it anymore. It’s up to you. And for any parent, that’s a terrifying thing to face.
I love you D.
I know it probably doesn’t feel like it, especially right now, with everything that has happened lately. But I do. Sometimes love means protecting people from themselves. And it’s not fun…for anybody. I still hope you can pull yourself up out of the hole you are in. But I won’t help you dig further down. I am your dad…and that’s why this hurts so much.