Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dear Dad

In my previous post I talked about the fact that my father had written me a letter about a year and a half ago. Since then his attempts to make some sort of contact seem to be increasing. A birthday card here. A Christmas gift there. Little things. Relatively easy to ignore if that's what you're attempting to do. But they've become tolerations. And I'd decided in the past couple of weeks that I wanted to assert myself a bit.

Now, some of you may think that I should let him in. I can understand that sentiment, and perhaps one day I will be able to. But for now, parents still live in a world called Needy-ville. In Needy-ville, I am the mayor and apparently one of a few who can solve problems from breakups with your girlfriend (after you cheat on her) to a place to run and hide when you destroy the house during a fight with your boyfriend. There is a current cap on the population of this dysfunctional town. So, unfortunately, a new resident father would not be permitted by the mayoral bylaws.

Up to this point my approach to dealing with attempts to contact has been utter and complete silence. So the attempts keep coming. And, frankly, I'm annoyed. I have this desire to respond requesting that he cease for the time being. I want my control back of this situation. So I wrote a letter. I started with one little paragraph asking him not to contact me and it turned into a full page. I didn't want to be a complete bitch, so I thought it best to read it to my therapist and make sure it was advisable to send it. She said, with complete clarity, that it should be sent. "You don't think it's too harsh?" I asked. "Oh, you're definitely going to make him feel like shit." she replied. But, apparently, she thinks that maybe that's what I need to do before I can move forward. So, I'm sending it. Curious about the contents? Knock yourself out :) Hasta, sabbaticaljo

"I hope that you are well. I wanted to reach out to you since it seems that you’ve been attempting to do so more frequently in the last couple of years. I certainly understand your attempts to reach out. I can imagine that it is difficult knowing that you have a daughter out there, but not being able to communicate freely. Unfortunately, at this time in my life, I have to respectfully ask that you stop trying to contact me. I want to provide a little bit of background in the hopes that it helps you in understanding me.

First, you should know how lucky I was to have my grandmother and your brother and sisters in my life. Their role in my childhood (and as an adult) shaped who I am today, and I’m incredibly thankful for that. They deserve huge kudos for helping to raise me and for playing a crucial role for me growing up – perhaps something you should thank them for if you haven’t already. Things were not always the easiest for me as a child. Mom and my step-dad took care of me the best they knew how. But the reality is that I spent a lot of time taking care of myself, and learning not to expect others to take care of me. While it’s provided for some difficulty in my life, it has also made me incredibly resilient, capable, and self-sufficient. These qualities are at the forefront of who I am, so I suspect you’ve heard this about me.

You’d sent me a letter at some point in the last couple of years. Admittedly, I didn’t read it when I received it, but put it in a pile and ran across it maybe six months later. I don’t recall the details, but remember you asking me about locking myself in the bathroom and wanting to know why. The truth is that I have no idea why. I do know that by the age of fourteen I was already an expert in emotionally closing myself off to people or experiences that might cause me distress. I was a specialist in self-reliance and building walls. I can only surmise that I had emotionally cut you out by that point and the surprise of seeing you was too much of a shock to the system. My best self-defense from being hurt by you was to literally put you on the other side of a door. As you know, I’ve never let you back through it. And that was an awfully long time ago. I’m sure it’s not comforting, but perhaps it helps you understand a bit about why I don’t feel particularly inclined to develop a relationship now. At this stage, the honest truth is that I don’t see the benefit it would bring to me. The risk vs. reward doesn’t add up for me.

As an adult, I have chosen to spend my life exercising my right to have people in my life who are capable of taking care of me; of returning the love and care that I am capable of providing. These are an amazing bunch of people that I trust and who I know can pick me up when I fall. Some are related; most are not. But they have all become my family and my support system. It is sad that I don’t consider you one of those people. But I’m choosing to expend energy on people in my life who I consider to be stable, self-sufficient, and whom I trust. We don’t have that between us and, frankly, it’s not something I’m willing to put effort into building with you.

I’m confident that you’ll respect my wishes, even if it’s not what you want, including not responding to this letter. If things change in the future and I’m interested in communicating, I will certainly let you know. But as one human being to another, I do wish you all the best for the future."


  1. SabbaticalJo,
    Okay. I understand.
    - tobyr21

  2. Ha ha, thanks tobyr21. But, truth be told, we both know you're right. I think I've accepted that a conversation is inevitable. But for now, I'll still holding on to my's like a warm blanket ;)