It shouldn’t hurt this bad. You were never there to begin with. I don’t know you. I have no recollection of you. It shouldn’t hurt this bad that you left Dad, because it did. It does Dad. Seventeen years without a Dad and you’d think I’d have it down by now. It doesn’t get easier. It still hurts. See, here’s the thing: Being fatherless doesn’t feel like a loss; it’s more like gradual rejection.
I wanted a dad who would be the flow to my ebb. I wanted a dad who’d whisk me away on Father Daughter adventures. I wanted a dad who’d tell me beautiful I am. I wanted a dad to teach me self worth over self deprecation like it’s my first name. I wanted a dad who showed me how loved I was in more ways than one. I wanted a dad who showed me that I was worthy. I wanted a dad to protect me from all the brevity in the world. I wanted a dad who would slip me ten dollars to go to the movies when mom said no. I wanted a dad whose shoulder would be able to cry on. I wanted a dad who would know my quirks, my likes, and my dislikes. I wanted a dad who would know me. I wanted a dad to be the example of the man I deserve to marry, and feels lucky to marry me. I wanted a dad who loved my mother and displayed it for the world to see. I wanted a dad who’d listen. I wanted a dad to be the first man I ever loved. I wanted a dad who’d be my hero. I wanted a dad who was there at my basketball games and track meets. I wanted a dad who supported my gifts, laughed at my quirks, and understood my sarcasm. God, my heart ached for a hug. I wanted a dad who was there.
But you weren’t Dad.
And for that, I want to thank you.
Dad, this is me slowly lowering the shield I’ve spent years expertly crafting. Soothing isn’t healing and Dad, I need to heal. This unspoken brokenness needs to come to light Dad, the glass has been cracked since the day you walked out that door. I’ve been underwater for years because I don’t like creating waves. I didn’t want to come up for air. I didn’t want to face the immensity. Father’s Day became Fatherless Day and I hated you for that. You broke my heart. What hurt more is the fact that you took no responsibility and accountability for the wounds you created. You walked away and felt no remorse. How can I miss something I never had? How can my heart crave for a I don’t know Dad, I just do. I’ve hated you for so long. Sometimes, I still do. You made me hate living. You made me feel unworthy. You made me feel unloved. If the only man I ever truly needed left when I wasn’t done ever needing him, then it was fair game for anyone else to decide it wasn’t worth it.
For anyone else to decide that I’m not worth it.
I want you to know that I’m still the little girl with the giant smile craving the affection of a father. Using the word ‘Dad’ brings up images of years spent questioning why I wasn’t enough for you. Dad, I want you to know that I forgive you because I know that I am enough. I know that I’m worthy. and I know that I’m cherished. Here’s the thing Dad: You’re human, all humans make mistakes, part of me understands. The other part of me still questions how on earth you could’ve abandoned four kids. You were supposed to be the first man to tell me I’m beautiful and help me discover myself. I was supposed to be your “little girl.” Little girls love their dad so much because a dad is meant to be the one man who’ll never hurt you.
But you did, Dad. Your sudden absence foreshadowed a series of unfortunate events. I sometimes wonder how different life would’ve been if you stayed. I wonder if we would’ve endured homeless shelters, sleepless nights in cars during hot Texas summers, and bathing in 7/11 bills. I wonder how different I would be. I wonder if I’d have more siblings, where I would’ve went to school, and whether or not I’d be who I am today. The truth is I wouldn’t.
And for that, I want to thank you.
A daughter without a father is the saddest scenario on this earth. I wish I could wish it all away. Not just for me, but for every girl out there that feels incomplete. For every girl who grew up never really understanding how to love or be loved. For every girl who wanted a hug. A hug is one of the simplest form of affection, yet its meaning holds much depth and power. The first relationship a little girl has with a man is the one she has with her father. This relationship is impactful and oh so neccesary. It’s importance cannot be reiterated enough. Still, what happens to the little girl who doesn’t have this relationship with her father?
Well hi, you’re looking at her.
Dad, I sometimes have a hard time deciphering what I deserve or who I’m worthy of having in my life. There’s no blueprint or rule book to help me understand the right way to be loved. I get validation externally not internally and the one person I needed validation from left. I blamed myself Dad, and it affected my self esteem. I grew up with all the ramifications of growing up without a dad and Dad, I want you to know that this is me coming up for air and facing the immensity. This is me exhaling a breath I’ve been holding for seventeen years. Dad, this is me letting it all go.
I hope that you’re happy. I hope that wherever you are with your kids and other wife I truly do hope that you’re happy. I hope you are all a family. I hope my half brothers and sisters have the pleasure of having a Dad.
Dad, I want you to know that your absence does not define me. You created me, you were there when I was born, and you’re fifty percent of my DNA but Dad, your absence does not define me. I want to thank you for leaving me. You’re absence helped me discover myself. That pain was the birthplace of something beautiful. I fought like hell to become the person that I am today. Your absence led me to mold myself. Your absence led me to define my own life. I’m sorry you missed out on someone so great, but I can gurantee that your actions will never break me. I pray daily that my future husband will be the dad to my kids hat I never had. That my daughters will know the comfort of their fathers arms, his voice, his care, and his love. That my sons will have an amazing man to be their hero and best friend. I also want you to know that you missed out. Tish, Jeremiah, and Bilonda are amazing. Seriously. Tish and Jeremiah are two of the most sacrificial, sweetest, hardworking, annoying brothers on the planet and Bilonda? The amount of sass that somehow found its way into her five foot seven frame is actually astounding. She’s my biggest headache and my best friend. Dad, the four of us have been through hell and back together, and we’ve always come back stronger than ever. Tish graduated early. Jeremiah graduated early and got a full ride to Oklahoma State. I’m graduating a year early as well Dad, and Bilonda, has a few years left. Her goal is to get a scholarship. Us Tshimanga kids are going to do big things. I’m telling you Dad, you missed out. And that is okay. One day, I’ll be walking down the aisle without you and that is okay. Thank you for the pain because without it I wouldn’t know healing. I wouldn’t know love, and I wouldn’t know God. Because of your absence, I know what it’s like to be loved. I know what it’s like to be cherished. I know what it’s like to be worthy. I know what it’s like to have a Dad, Dad despite your absence. Thank you for sweetly breaking me Dad, God knew what He was doing. Father’s Day isn’t Fatherless Day anymore. And for that, I want to thank you. I know it’s not Father’s Day, so Happy Early Father’s Day Dad. Thank you. Your absence is the greatest gift you could’ve ever given me.
(To Scott + Mike + Tommy + Nick + Ricky, you all are the most amazing fathers in the world. At some point in my life you all have cherished, loved, and called me worthy as if I were your own daughter and for that, I am forever grateful. Love you all times infinity.)