A letter to my father I wish I wrote sooner

I’ve needed to write this for a while but I never knew where to begin.

Everything I felt would spill out of my eyes and ruin the pages anytime I tried to put these words down into something – anything – that made a fraction of sense to anyone but me (and even at that, I still never really knew how to feel towards you).

But I think I’m ready now. Because unlike all those times before, I finally understand you.

I understand why I had to forgive you, before I ever knew what I was forgiving you for. I told myself it was for me. So I could move on without holding on to all the pain and anger you brought to me, that was rooted deep inside me. I needed to allow myself peace. But really, it was for you too. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the only way I knew how to love you.

I know you didn’t plan on being like this. No one dreams of being alone while surrounded by the people who are supposed to love you, and love you unconditionally at that. No one should yearn for connection in a crowded room full of life and love and laughter.

All you ever wanted – no, needed – was love even if you didn’t know it at the time (were you aware of the love you so desperately craved all those times you reached for that can or that bottle or that shot glass?). But I never gave that love to you (and that wasn’t the worst of it, either, was it?). What could be worse than refusing to love someone who craved it so badly? Blaming them for being unlovable.

We all wanted love but no one taught us how to give it; no one taught us how to give love to those we didn’t think deserve it, to those who needed it the most. Like you. No one taught us how to love you. (Do you know how to love yourself? Do you know it is possible to forgive those who have wronged you, who have hurt you, who have broke you, who have loved you the only way they could, even if it wasn’t enough?)

You needed love to heal. To heal from the things you never spoke of. Will you ever tell me what those were. Or will you take them to your grave the same way I planned on burying my secrets six feet below the ground I once walked upon. Why do we keep these things that continue to hurt us? Why do we hold on to all this pain? why do we continue this cycle that destroyed us? The cycle that has been passed down as generational curses, with roots too deep, too strong, too wide to dig up.

Why can’t we love? Love may have been the only thing that could have saved you but it’s too late, isn’t it? You’d tell me it’s too late to save you –  it’s too late for you to find your peace.

I still don’t know how to love you.
I still haven’t learned to love you the way you need to be loved.
I am so sorry.
I hope you can forgive me.

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