Trigger warning: Alcoholism and something akin to emotional abuse, I guess?
Also, do not mainpage, though I can't anticipate why this would be.
I don't know what I expect to get out of posting this—just feels nice to write it out, to admit it semi-publicly. Feel free to armchair psychology me while I wallow in my emotional squalor. I am about to admit something that I have never admitted to anyone but my stepmother.
I often wish my father were dead.
This is a long story, but I keep deleting big chunks of it, because I'm worried about revealing too much identifying information (not to you guys, but to anyone who stumbles across this). So bear with me, I feel like I'm glossing over some stuff (also, an unwillingness to remember some stuff means I don't remember all the details).
Suffice it to say that my father was a very controlling person. Obsessed with people loving him more. When my parents divorced, it was an acrimonious custody battle, which she won at first, but he won later when I requested that he get full custody. When he married my stepmother he was upset because I was so close with her, and told her things I didn't tell him. He was petty—if I hurt his feelings, he wouldn't say so, but six months later he'd give me the silent treatment until I figured out what I had done and apologized. Sometimes he'd make an offhand remark that he needed a new razor or something. If the person that comment was directed towards did not pick up the hint and subsequently give him that item as a gift, he was upset. Silent treatment.
When I left for college and then graduate school it was hard for him. I was no longer under his direct control. He turned towards my stepmother then, and tried to control her job, her social life, and was often obviously jealous of her dead husband, because he was pretty sure that my stepmother loved her late husband more than him. One day he tried to kick my grandparents out of the house—supposedly because my grandmother was disrespectful towards him, but in actuality because he was jealous of all the time my stepmother had to spend caring for my grandfather with Alzheimer's.
He started drinking heavily, usually in spurts. Three months of drunken days, followed by five months of sober days. He'd call me, and if I didn't answer immediately, he'd keep calling instead of just leaving a message. Sometimes he was drunk when he made these calls. He would tell me how I was a terrible daughter, especially for loving my stepmother more than him. He would tell me everyone back home was mad at me for some made up reason. I would believe him, and call my stepmother and apologize through my sobs. It was never real. He told me I was horrible, and he didn't want me in his life, and that if I loved my stepmother so much, I should just be in their family then (at this point they were getting divorced). That if it weren't for him, I wouldn't be where I was. I started screening his calls and calling back the next morning when he was sober, pretending I never got a message. He refused to get treatment for his alcoholism, despite many talks with the family about it. His drinking was always someone else's fault. He'd promise to get help, but then would refuse that he needed help. And he certainly needed help for his alcohol abuse, but he needed other help too. I think he knew/knows that, and that's what has prevented him from seeking it.
The divorce was in the process of being finalized, when my dad called me demanding information about my student loans, since they were co-signers. I asked him what the information was for—he seemed sober, but very angry, and I was worried he would somehow use this against my stepmother in the divorce proceedings. He told me that it wasn't any of my fucking business, and that I had to answer him. I took offense. This was the proverbial last straw. He'd been telling me not to pick sides in this divorce, but kept doing stuff that indicated I should pick his. I was twenty-fucking-five. This wasn't a damn custody battle. I told him I didn't have to tell him a fucking thing if I didn't want to, he said "Fine," and hung up. He called back thirty seconds later. I let it go to voicemail. All it said was, "Alright. We're done."
I have not spoken to him since. He has called or text numerous times, telling me he's sober, when I have witnesses that say otherwise. He has gotten family members to call me instead, when I stopped answering him. I won't hear from him for months, then I will. He only ever had my phone number—his e-mails were blocked, and he didn't have my current address. He generally kept being awful to my family back home that he still had contact with—if he catches sight of my brother's family in the store, he'll hound the aisles trying to talk to them, because of my very young niece. I've been very lucky that I lived so far away. He really was sort of dead, only his ghost would pop up once every six or eight months. But it was a ghost, and I could ignore it.
Today I got a letter. It was written by a woman I do not know, claiming to be my father's friend. I couldn't figure out how she got my address—but then I realized. Those damn student loans. I had finally gotten around to updating my address to my new one—they must have sent him a notice of the change of address too. My biggest fear is that he'll show up on my doorstep one day, and I won't be able to turn him away.
In the letter the woman said my father went through treatment over a year ago and is sober, and promises to stay so. That he misses me. He has many health problems. That I should find it in my heart to forgive him, because he is a generous man and good friend to her.
What I wish I could say to her is that he has often promised to be and stay sober. That my stepmother has witnessed him publicly drunk less than a year ago. That I don't miss him in particular, just the idea of a father. That I can't forgive him, despite everything, and even if I did, I wouldn't do anything that would bring him into closer contact with my young niece. That he has always been a generous man and good friend when he sees a benefit for himself somewhere down the line. That he is manipulative and dangerous and needy, and while she may not feel used yet, eventually she might come to regret her affection towards him, and see it as a burden and not a joy.
But mostly I am worried that I can't forgive him. Am I no better than when he would give me the silent treatment? Am I that petty? I should be a bigger person. What about when he dies? What if his brothers don't want me at the funeral? Would I be okay with that? Will I feel bad when he dies? Is it awful that I don't think I will? He is my father. Is having him in my life worth it? Am I damaged, that I can't forgive him? Have I become him? Does my family think less of me for this? Is it so wrong that I wish he were just…gone?
Last night I watched an episode from season two of The Newsroom. SPOILER ALERT? It's the one where Will's abusive father has a heart attack, and he's not sure whether to speak with him. And Mac keeps going around saying stuff like, "It won't hurt anything just to speak with him. Leave him a message. Let him know you're thinking of him. It won't hurt anything at all, but if he dies before you do, then that will hurt." And I just wanted to punch her in the face. So it seems funny to me that the next day I'd get a letter telling me my father misses me and has many health problems. Like, come the fuck on, universe.
I already know I won't respond to this letter. But I can't help wondering if that makes me a horrible, small, petty, awful person, and that I just don't deserve to have a father.