A letter to the dad, I never had...
I don't hate you, but I don't love you either. I don't know where to start because we never had a beginning. You put an end to our relationship before I even had the chance to know you had something to do with me coming into this world. I’m not mad at you, I just have so many questions that I know will remain unanswered. When I think of you, I wonder...I wonder what my life would be like, if you were present.
You know, every time I get invited to family gatherings, I don't know how to behave. My college teammates and coaches always wondered why I declined every invitation to their houses during the holidays. Being so far from home (Greece), not having any family in the United States, but yet still choosing to be alone for Christmas, Thanksgiving or any other holiday. Truth is I wanted to go. I always wanted to go, but I was clueless and scared; I don't know how to behave when a man is in the house. I get uncomfortable, I look away, and I look down. When I hear people say "dad", "pops" or just calling their fathers, I space out. When I hear dads respond to their little girls or grown daughters saying "princess", "queen", "beautiful", "angel", I'm lost for words. That must be an amazing feeling. You know, for years I had been lost, looking for these words to come from others. It should have been you. Then, I believed that hearing those words from a man was all I needed to feel valued by and important to a guy. How does a man treat a woman…dad? I looked for you...in the wrong places, but I looked for you, and I waited for you.
I remember dating this guy and getting into an argument with him. He told me, "Maybe things would have been better for you and between us, if you stopped looking for your long gone dad in every guy that you meet...." I was so mad, I can't even remember my response to him, but I know it was a bad one. “I went off!!” Well, that was the end of me and him. He told me this about 8-9 years ago and I look at my life now and how things have evolved, he was right. I needed you and I wanted you around. I am not sure why. I don’t know what a dad does for his kids, for his daughter. I didn't want to be spoiled; I just wanted your protection. You know, I was 6 years old when my life took a different turn. Up till I was 6 years old, we suffered, your absence was felt, mama needed someone else to keep us at a steady home and keep the home steady. She worked her ass off. She was away a lot; I was always alone. My brother and sister are older, so they would go to places, hang with their friends, I mean I was an accident anyways, right? An accident, you stated you didn't want, but mama is a fighter. You quit. You left.
I am not in a position to go into details, but that day will come too. Once I turned 6 though, I needed you. I was unprotected with a naïve mind, and a kind heart. I watched cartoons and believed in fairytales. I didn’t think people looked to harm you just because they can and they're stronger than you or because they are older. It happened for so many years and I couldn’t do anything about it, so in my head, I thought I was losing it.Have something ever hurt you so bad to where you go through moments where you ask yourself if it’s real or if you are going crazy?
Have you even been so helpless to the point that you begin to question the love of your own parents? I guess that just because you are brought into this world by two people doesn’t mean that they love you, right? Being a result of the connection of two people doesn’t mean much nowadays, huh? I am piece of you, do you know that? You have never been part of my life, but you are always a part of me because I wouldn’t be here without you. So why am I here without you? Why aren’t you here with me or around? I wouldn’t make it to this world if it wasn’t for you, but you would have been and you are here, and I have nothing to do with that. I guess that explains why I hurt so much, but you don’t. I needed you, but you didn’t need me. I get it. Every single person will look out for himself or herself, even your own blood. You are and have been fine, I wasn’t but I am getting there.
So, I turned 7, and that’s when everything hit me. The incident that took me a year to describe and tell my sister about wasn’t just an incident. It was an attempt; the first attempt of many. That night, when I was 6 and “X” came back home (after my mother had a get together and had left), to look for his lighter, his intentions were different. You know, we searched for the lighter and we couldn’t find it. I actually told him I wasn’t able to find it before I let him in. I even called my mother to ask if I could let him in and she said I could. After a while of searching for a lighter that wasn’t there, it was time for him to leave, so I said good bye Mr. X. He wanted a hug. “I don’t really know you Mr.X and it is getting late and mama is not here, so good bye”, I said. He insisted. And you know our Nigerian culture about obeying and listening to elders. So, I gave him a hug and it was just so tight and he was getting close to my ears and my face and my neck and he was just moving so weird and he wouldn’t let me go…but that incident is not why I am writing you. Not in this letter.
I’m writing you because it started when I was 6 and it lasted for motherfucking 10+ years, until I had to freaking move to my own place when I was 17. Do you know how many times I have tried to hurt myself? Where the fuck were you? Do you have other kids or do you even remember you have a kid in Greece? You do. Of course you remember because I called you so many times and asked you when you were coming. You changed your phone numbers and countries. I asked, and I would always find out where you are and how to contact you. Every single time I "found" you, but you never cared to find me. All I cared about was that you were eventually coming; you said so, you promised.
Do you know how many times you promised me you were coming?
I believed you every single time. I was never mad at you. I even remember myself thinking of saying I love you back a couple times. I never said that to you, probably never will. If I were to say I love you, I would know for a fact that I am crazy. How can I love you? I don’t know you; you left when I was three months. Do you think I asked mom for money to call you? No, I used my meal money; the money that I was supposed to use to grab lunch at school. Did you ever wonder why your silly daughter called and waited for you for so many years?
Do you know how many times you broke my heart?
You kept breaking already broken pieces. I had no healing time. I wanted you to save me from it. I wanted you to come and protect me. I just knew you cared about me so much. I thought you would recognize that there was fear, pain, and sadness behind my voice; in every single phone call. The truth is, you don't even know me like that. Sometimes I called you determined to tell you what I was going through; that I was being molested and sexually harassed and that I couldn’t escape from it. I wouldn't; I wasn’t allowed to speak on it. Would that have made you come? I do not know. I will never know, but eventually I had to give up on it and figure out a way for myself.
So, first, I attempted hurting myself...multiple times. It wasn't my time. Then, I moved to my own apartment when I was 17. It didn't work either. Every time I was around Mr.X, there was a gesture, a comment or a look that implied something sexual and inappropriate. Finally, I decided to leave and go to the United States. I signed a four year scholarship to the United States without asking ANYONE for permission. I wanted to go as far as possible. Soon…I am to learn that deep wounds like this one don’t just heal and fade away with time and/or distance, they are scars; they stay. You have to learn how to live with your scars. You have to find the beauty in your scars. You don’t run away from your problems, you FACE them…