Letter #62

Content Warning: Parental neglect, parental trauma, abandonment




When I was younger, I put my dad on a pedestal. I thought he was nothing short of amazing. He would take us out to the movies, restaurants, and amusement parks. Unfortunately, I didn’t see that it was my mom working behind the scenes. But I soon got a reality check.


It all started in 2010, when we were living abroad in Haiti. An earthquake struck, and we had to go back to the U.S. Well, my mom, brother, and I went back. My dad stayed back for some reason. We stayed in the U.S. for two years, not a peep from my dad. He didn’t make an appearance, neither physically nor financially. He only visited us for two days for my brother’s graduation.


When we returned after two years, he was still the same way. He didn’t talk to us, neither to my brother nor to me. He only sent me a “happy birthday” through Facebook even though he was living within our vicinity. My mom had to play the role of both mom and dad. She was handling all the expenses on her own. I thought we were going to be okay without him until my mom had a complete breakdown. It was then that I thought of asking my dad for help.


Every time I asked him to help, he would berate me. He would make me feel like I was in the wrong for asking for financial help. I felt like I was the problem. I would tolerate it because I knew my mom needed help. I would also ask myself, “as my father, wouldn’t he want to help?” Then he called me a gold digger. That label stung. I cried for days. 


Then one day we met at a restaurant to try to sort things out. We were okay for a while. He started to visit me more often. We would go to restaurants. I would ask him how he was doing. We were okay again. But every time I asked for his help financially, he would get stingy about it. It was not until 2018 that I learned the truth. I was going to visit my paternal grandmother, and he asked if we could meet up before I went on that visit. I was confused, but we met up and that’s when he told me that he had another family–that he had two daughters. One was a seven-year-old, and one was a two-year-old.


To say that I was shocked is an understatement. I had trouble wrapping my head around it. I started to do some self-reflection. Is that why he was so stingy with money? Is that why he called me a gold digger? Was it because he had another family. Instead of telling me the truth, he made me feel like I was in the wrong. That I was the one with a problem.  That I was the problem.


I still let it go. We made peace with it. Until a couple of days ago, when he called me that again. This time, it didn’t hurt so much. However, it felt worse when he said that he would sponsor me for a certain amount of money. I felt cheap. But it also made me think about where I was in my life. I shouldn’t have relied on him, but my life took an unexpected turn, so I still had to rely on him. But it was also a wake-up call to let me know that I needed to shape up.


It had become a routine: he hurt me, and I forgave him. Then he made another mistake, and I forgave him again. This is not a healthy relationship. It is a toxic relationship. I came to realize that as a daughter, you should not feel like you must ask your father to help you financially. There are some responsibilities that a person must undertake when he becomes a father. No matter how hard I tried to explain these things to my father, he never understood.


So, I am working hard on myself, chasing out the negative thoughts in my head, and trying at every possible turn to have a career. The next time I forgive him, it will be for myself–not for him. It will be the end of the cycle.


I urge you to know your worth. Never settle for a relationship where the other person makes you feel inferior or makes you feel you are a problem, a nuisance, or a burden. Work as hard as possible, and play even harder to get out of the relationship, one small step at a time. Talk it out with a friend, a support group, or a family member. Your journey may start with getting a minimum-wage job, going back to school, working your way up the ladder, and never stopping until you make it to the top.

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