Can I tell you a story? You weren't around but when I was six I had this friend. She was cool, Fletch and I would play with her after school. Sometimes her mom would watch us while mom was at work. Back then, she was my best friend. The one I told secrets to. And at that time my biggest secret wasn't what you'd expect from a six year old. I had no lofty dreams of living in a castle, or learning to fly. No, my secret was on the more serious side. Six years old and already jaded by the world, I told my best friend I would never get married.
Crazy isn't it? Most would laugh, "Isn't she adorable?" But I was serious. While most kids are building their dream world with Barbie and Ken, I wanted nothing to do with it. And to be honest it never crossed my mind that it was strange of me to think this way. I mean, look at all the good it did you and mom, and back then I could probably count the number of healthy relationships I knew on one arm. That being said, when she found out, as moms always do, she was less than pleased. Even through her heart ache she still held out hope for her seed. She probably sat alone in her room that night and wondered if it was her fault that I felt this way. I've since hoped she didn't blame herself. It wasn't her fault, but I understand that those words are easier said than believed.
Now as I sit here 20 years later, a few thank yous are definitely in order. I'd like to thank you for teaching me a few lessons in life. Like what not to look for in a man and things of the like. I'd also like to thank you for my early introduction to fear, insecurity, doubt, and confusion. Just a few of the things you left behind when you left us behind. Now to be honest, I don't quite care to know whether or not you intended it to be that way, or whether you feel bad. And please don't bother telling me you love me. I know for a fact love don't act that way. The reality is today, I'm now a woman as they say, and I find myself surveying my heart and my mind, realising things aren't completely right. And since you never cared to ask, or stick around to take a look, I thought I'd give you a little glimpse of what you left behind.
Daily, in this battle we embark. Some days I win and others... Well, those are the days when, although I know he isn't quite real, I can still feel his breath as it crawls up my neck. Whispering my name, laying out my every shame. Every reason why I am not enough;
With every year that passes, I learn more about myself, who I am, and who I desire to be and in all that I've also begun to see my hang ups. Whether I like it or not one of those is most definitely you. It's funny how much of you and mom I see in myself and how I process life. It seems that even though you were never around, I can't escape your your influence. I still find your fingerprints on the files of my mind in those moments when I'm less aware of the truth in my reality. They are my grown up versions of the monster in my closet. And though I have grown out of being afraid of the dark, my present battles are no less potent.
This new monster is much more aware, you could even say sophisticated. You see he built his factory right inside of my head. No need for a closet to hide in when you've got a brain, and an unwitting victim fueling the fire with her own fear and pain. No need for Sulley and Mike. Here reigns a monster who feeds off memories for his strength. And when I'm not careful, when my guard is slightly down, he comes out of his cage and begins to prowl. Looking for an opening, a single chance to strike. It's weird that the older I get the more his influence is apparent in my life.
"Your father left you. You should know by now that you suck!"
"Your brother was right. You are ugly. Really, who would ever want you? You're too much to handle. And no one really wants a black girl"
"Did your mother's tears teach you nothing? No man can be trusted. You'll never really know a person. It's better that you stay protected."
So we fight this war, me and this monster, while he feeds on my scars. I thank God everyday that I've made it this far. Reminding myself " You are not what his actions say you are!" True as those words are, I've come to realise how those lies have penetrated my reality. Now there are places I rarely choose to venture in, cause for the most part I don't see the use. But sometimes thoughts just swirl around in my head. In those moments I wish I was braver, less prone to hide. I'd stand in front of you and just speak my mind.
I'd tell you about hearing mom cry herself to sleep at night. I'd ask you if it was worth giving it all up for the D. Was worth the cost of your family? I'd tell you about my nightmares, how I'd be woken up at night by scenes of evil legions led by the man they call my father. I'd tell you how embarrassing it is to be the only kid not making a card for her dad on Father's Day. I'd describe the shame you feel of having to raise your hand to tell your teacher there is no such man for you to dedicate a card to. Feeling all those eyes looking at you, as you expose your mess to the entire class.
If I had it in me I'd tell you how awkward it still is to answer questions like, "What's your father like? What does your he do?" I can't very well say he specialises in procreation and abandonment. Although you're an expert in your field, it's not much of an accomplishment. Oh how I abhor the pity in their eyes when I do tell them about you. Having to explain that the only way my father was ever in the picture is in between dusty frames, and such has been my reality since I was 5.
Did you know, that I resent the fact that I have to carry your name? It is a constant reminder of what you were supposed to be, flaunting before my eyes the scars left behind, and the legacy I wish I could put behind me somewhere in eternity. And sometimes, when I look at Fletcher all I see is your face. In those moments it's difficult not to relive the disgrace. It's like even through genetics you're silently mocking me. And though I won't admit it, deep down I know it bothers me so because it means that every day in the mirror, that face is yours as well.
But what can I say, I'm not that strong. I'm prone to hide so instead I write these letters, ease my pain away through prose and song, praying that my children will have a better life. See I know I'm not the first, nor will I be the last to be stuck with a dead beat dad. And in those moments I am thankful that God in heaven is no tool, and no fool. He knew my worth before I was even aware and on His promises I can depend. Because unlike you He sees them through till the end.