Would You Read This, Dad?

Dad,

I’m wondering what’s going on in your head anymore. I’ve moved out for college. I don’t see you much. I’ve asked mom, but she doesn’t really know anymore either. You’re still married. It’ll be 24 years this year on October 1st, together for 25 or 26. You’re… different… now though.

As of January 2016, you’re clean. We never knew you had a problem, and it was never a specific substance, nor illegal substances. You experimented as a teenager, but many do. You were just an all-around asshole growing up.

Your brain has been fried by the drugs. You’re more inert than a noble gas. You don’t stand up for yourself much anymore when you were once an angry jackass with an explosive temper. You’re quiet, wandering around in the landscape of your own warped psyche, lost in thoughts of… only you know.

I want to know what you’re thinking. I want to know what I can do to make you proud. I want to know what I can do to MacGuyver some kind of relationship with you. What we had growing up was superficial and brittle; it fell apart over the years and has long fallen to dust and blown away in the wind.

As much as I tell myself I’m fucking done trying to rebuild a relationship with you, that mostly-dead, five-year-old Jessie is still alive. By some miracle, she’s managed a weak pulse. Seventeen years is a hell of a long time to keep breathing with no hope. …Maybe it’s because we’re so damn stubborn.

Mom once told me you were a different person before you two married, before I was born. …Did that man die because of me? Mom thought she was too old, but you wanted me. You were 25 and mom 36 when I was brought into this world. Was I mistake? Did you realize you’d fucked up when you looked at that black-haired little jelly bean wrapped in a Minnie Mouse blankie?

Most of me despises you for what you did to me, to Sisi. She’s your step-daughter, and you still managed to mess her up to some degree. What you did to mom, too. God, did you goof big time there. More so than me, and you borked me pretty bad, too.

That little girl though… She feels like she failed you. She hates herself for that. She feels like you hate her.

In the back of my mind, I can always hear, “I want my daddy back. Please, just tell me how to make it better. Daddy, what did I do wrong? I can fix it. Just tell me how. I promise I’ll make it better.”

It hurts 22-year-old me. I just want her to let go and die peacefully. …But she’s a bull-headed fool…, just like me.

..That five-year-old misses you, dad. She wants you to come back. She remembers the softball games, sitting in the truck and playing the Question Game, listening to songs that she plays in my mind on repeat, sitting at the ICU nurses’ station and you shooting packets of sugar at her with tourniquets or spraying her with foam hand sanitizer with your coworkers. You laughed. She did too. I can see the grin on her face even without closing my eyes at the memories.

She watched the concerts we went to when I was older. She liked that. She wants that back. It was fake, but it looked like it was real. She pretends it was real, and she wants it to be real if it comes back again.

Until she gets it through her thick skull that it’s just not happening, that I’ve tried time and time again, I’m forced to continue. She doesn’t understand that you’re not coming back—that the person you were before I was born is dead, and the blip of that man she saw one night before you got clean was merely a ghost of the past.

So here we go again. Round… tch, 500 (?):

How can I fix this? How can I get through that barrier and into your mind? How can I find you and truly talk to you? Find that common ground we once had? Get you to really talk to me again? How do I re-connect with you before it’s too late?

I Am Not

am not cookie dough.
You can’t just find your favorite cookie cutter,
hidden in the cabinets,
long forgotten from my childhood,
and press me into who you want to see—
what you wish I’d turned into rather than what I’ve become.
am not cookie dough,
and I am not sorry that you can’t handle the warped finished product.
You burned the cookie.

am not a quilt.
You can’t just take your favorite fabrics,
your favorite pieces of me,
and sew them into a pretty little blanket.
Crisp edges and bright colors with wide fields of May flowers preceded only by mild April showers.
am not a quilt,
and I am not sorry that you’re unhappy with the aesthetic of a frayed, storm-torn, barren cluster of scraps.
You fucked up the stitching.

am not a military contract.
You can’t sign up for 18 years,
serve your time,
and choose not to reenlist when shit goes south;
decide that you don’t want to re-commit because the state of my psyche has declared WWIV.
WWIII was mandatory—
year 16 or 18.
Damn.
So close, right?
I am not a military contract,
and I am not sorry for the wars you let happen, contributed to.
You were blind to the red flags.

I am not your “smiley baby girl.”
Not anymore.
You can’t just stick your head in the sand,
watching the clips of the past in the recesses of your mind.
She’s dead;
she has been for ten years.
What’s left is the husk of the creature she wanted to be.
I am not your “smiley baby girl” anymore,
and the only thing I’m sorry for is the burden you place on others in picking up your slack because you can’t face the truth.
You let her slip away.

I Thought I Had One

‘At least I have one good parent…’
I’ve been telling myself this from the time I realized I never had a father.
Funny thing is,
my parents were [and still are] married.
We lived in the same house.
We did these superficial little things together.

But, …if we’re being honest,
were we genuinely a family?
Fuck.
No.

My father was always absent—
drifting off into the recesses of his own mind,
ruminating on his self-serving need for the gratitude of others,
fixated on this mindless drive to be a caring, devout nurse, loved by every patient and coworker alike,
focused on his sole purpose in life of spreading love to the entirety of world,
…excluding his family.

So, what were we to him?
A wife: secondary income-earner and sexual object.
A daughter: the only thing he created to pass on his genes and continue his “legacy”.
A step-daughter: the seven-year-old came with the wife from the previous marriage.
Apparently,
not a whole lot.
Usually,
it felt like nothing.

Now,
as of February 2016,
a changed man;
a recovering drug addict.
He has a disease,
and just like that…,
it’s as if the last 25 years,
of which 22 I existed,
no longer mattered.
You forgave him quickly.
Easily.

I am so.

Fucking.

Disappointed.

In him?
Sure.
But in you?
More than you can ever imagine.

You were our rock growing up.
You were forced to raise a child, a teenager…
and a husband.
You worked the overtime.
You paid the bills.
You found the money to pay for Christmas,
when there was no money to be found.

You took the brunt of the physical abuse,
for both Sisi and I.
Even if you were so angry because you couldn’t save us from the emotional,
the verbal abuse,
you did everything you could.
You even grew a pair with age;
you’re no longer that meek, doe-eyed woman I called “Mommy” as a kid.

But you can see drug abuse,
unlike an unbalanced brain chemistry,
and because he’s a “changed man”,
your marriage is “better than ever.”
10/02/1993 to Present

“He’s just like you—he has a disease.”
You beg me to open my eyes,
to magically forgive a lifetime of abuse—
my own, your own, Sisi’s…,
all of which I had witnessed first-hand.

But you can see his,
because you can see drug abuse.”
The acid splatters across your skin;
my words—impulsive, resentful—are corrosive.
Don’t you dare compare me to him.
You can’t see excess dopamine.
The flesh on your arms begins to melt away.
The words erode further inward,
exposing more and more of you as I go on.
You can’t see disordered patterns of thought… maladaptive schemas!

Schemas…?
I read the question in your expression,
can see it in your eyes.
The rage condenses in my chest,
implodes,
forms a black hole.
It consumes everything,
beginning with me.

You know what?!
I’d explained it god-knows-how-many-times.
Once again,
you hadn’t listened to a goddamn thing.
Fucking forget it!
Shaking my head,
I walk away.
Again.

What happened to you?
What else did he do to you?
You were ready to finally leave;
for once, ready to think of,
think for,
yourself.

You were ready to do what’s best for yourself

I just…
Who are you?
Please tell me.
At least then,
I’ll know who I’m talking to,
because I’m sure as hell not talking to Audre Annette.