From the time when I was very young, I feel like you’ve been doing me a disservice.
You abandoned me when you decided to work out of Arizona. It never occurred to me how often you were gone; am I making that up? How often were you around? I feel sad when I think about when you would bring me back a toy -- like that was supposed to make it better. I guess lots of parents travel.
You abandoned me every time you would put me down. A child’s failures weren’t just part of the learning process -- to you they were personal insults. You used to ask me if I was stupid. When kids picked on me, it was like you took their side. “Of course they’re going to pick on you! You won’t stand up for yourself!” You wouldn’t comfort me or just accept me. You broke me down and tried to rebuild me -- like a kid with some cement and a few bricks -- made in your image. I never felt good enough for you.
You abandoned me when you abandoned your family. Kentucky. What kind of person leaves his family for 5 fucking years to go redesign himself? You had obligations. You had a family. The women were just the icing on the cake. Mom says you didn’t want to come back and even though I don’t trust her, I believe it.
You abandoned me even before Kentucky when you would study for hours on end instead of spending time with us. Funny -- it’s starting to sound like I may as well never even had a father.
And then -- when things got bad, and Mom basically drug you home -- you abandoned me by putting me smack-fucking-dab in the middle of all your arguments. You would tell me how crazy she was -- how bad she was. I would be forced to moderate your arguments. That’s not parenting -- that’s you using me. I was a tool for you when you couldn’t deal with the mess you had made.
The divorce was even worse. You placed an enormous burden on me by continually asking me to make choices which boiled down to “Mom or me?”
You flat out did abandon Sarah. How was I supposed to feel when you wouldn’t talk to my own sister? You didn’t even buy her a Christmas present.
Ok so you and Mom did us all a favor and finally separated. Then came the apartment -- stealing us all away in your oh-so-debonaire legal manɶuvre. I got to sleep on a bunk bed with Sarah and Brad got the couch. You should have slept on the couch you selfish bastard -- Brad deserved better. But hey, thank god I was too stupid to know you were having sex with our “babysitter”, right? Cause that wouldn’t have been nice laying in bed listening to you two through those paper-thin walls.
You abandoned me when you asked me to testify against my own mother. You abandoned me when you told me I couldn’t talk to her.
I baked you a cake for your birthday because you were feeling down and you didn’t even care. I don’t even remember if you thanked me.
And then you had a heart attack.
Time stood still. I told you I loved you and all you said was, “Go to college.”
I hated you for always telling me you loved me and never showing it. I hated you for preaching how important family was and then turning around and screwing us all -- nice, slow, and hard.
Your doctor told you to get a less stressful job, so you decided to move across state lines. You had to have known this was verboten -- you’re too smart not to have. So what, did you want to get rid of us? Did you think you were above the law? Did you know Brad hates that place and hates you for taking him there?
So of course Mom pulls us back and you use us like the good little tools we are; “Make her pay. Make her life a living hell.” Put us in the middle again.
When I was arrested, you never came. I couldn’t get ahold of you -- no one came. When I was finally released, I had to call Mom to pick me up and she didn’t even want to come. The only person who would come get me was Lloyd -- another person you told me was bad.
And when Mom took me back in just so she could throw me out again, where could I go? You wouldn’t come -- you were on call. But you stopped by later that night to see how things were anyway; I guess you weren’t on call after all.
Eventually I ended up living in the old house alone. You never got me an apartment -- people would come and go as they pleased. I never knew what would still be there when I got back. Would I still have a fork to eat? Would the gas still be on?
I was taking care of Brad for like, a month, and still you did nothing. I had to deal with cops, feeding him, getting him to school. I was 17, Dad.
I remember my teacher giving me something to take home for my parents to sign. I told him I didn’t have anyone to sign it and he looked at me and said, “Just take it home.”
And when it came time for graduation and awards you said you’d try and make it. By that time Mom had so thoroughly driven me out of her life no one would be there. I’d go to the stage and there would be silence. You showed at the last minute, but the damage was done. I felt so utterly black and I didn’t even know why.
You deemed Mom wasn’t invited to my graduation. She came anyway and I felt nothing.
You didn’t even make an attempt to come to my college graduation. Why did I expect otherwise?
You just keep using me, Dad -- for your own ends. The boat, vacations, your stuff in my name, it’s all for you.
You gave me this knife when you graduated with an engraving, “Thanks for everything -- Love, Dad”. I want to take that knife and throw it into the deepest ocean -- except it wouldn’t ever be enough. The splash would be too small, the pain is too great, and I’d know that somewhere that knife would be buried in silt, resting but not destroyed, an attestant to everything you thought you did for me.
And that’s the worst part. I hate you for the fact that I feel like I can’t be mad at you because at times you did good and you did try. You don’t deserve any of this anger and so I just keep it with me.