Dear father

Subject: Dear father
From: Your estranged son
Date: 10 Apr 2023

My best friend plays poker with her dad. A school friend's dad woke her up to watch the northern lights together. I hear people talk about things they've done with their fathers, I see snippets of other people's lives with their dads, full of smiles and laughter and good times. With you, I have only regrets and bad memories.

They say you only get one family. That's not entirely true - I know people with divorced parents that have two mums and two dads. But yes, I only have one family. I'm honestly happy that it is that way. I don't want a family. I don't want to be around you. I don't want to celebrate Christmas with you, I don't want to celebrate New Years with you, I don't want to celebrate Easter with you. You taught me that family is a hassle, a bother, an annoyance.

You taught me many things, actually. You taught me how to use loopholes in internet blocking. You taught me how to find the best hiding places, both for myself and for objects. You taught me how to avoid contact with people. You taught me how to be small and scared. You taught me that you are the last person I want to be like.

I wonder if you taught mum those things, too.

Did you ever stop to think about the family? You were always cooped up in your room, playing games or working or whatever the fuck you were doing in there that nobody was allowed in to see. You were barely there in my day-to-day life as a child. I saw you at the dinner table and on weekends. No wonder you didn't know how to parent me. Or maybe you did, but you chose not to. After all, scaring a child into submission is an effective tactic. Except- oh, it wasn't, because I still got into trouble anyway.

I won't say you abused me. Abuse is a strong word, and I'm not really sure what it entails. What I do know is that my childhood was traumatic. Growing up with parents who fought daily was traumatic. Growing up moving too often to make friends was traumatic. Moving to a new country, with a new language and new customs, at nine years old, was traumatic. Being bullied for four years was traumatic. Losing my mother at twelve was traumatic. Being yelled at for forgetting, or for making a mistake, as a teenager, was traumatic. Being isolated at home my entire childhood was traumatic.

Both you and mum were too busy fighting or being angry or working or doing chores to really take care of me. I would be playing in my room, imagining epic fantasy worlds with my plushes while the two of you were yelling downstairs. I would be reading with screaming as background noise. Sometimes it was the vacuum instead. Honestly, I preferred the screaming. Vacuum cleaners make the most annoying sound that I still can't stand. But my point is, I grew up alone. Sometimes mum and I would sit and craft something. That was it, really. I didn't mind. I was too busy conjuring myself into imaginary worlds, or playing on the Wii, or reading. I didn't mind after she died, either. I just spent more time in the library and playing video games instead. Looking back, though, I wish I hadn't grown up alone. It taught me how to live alone and set the path for me to go through school alone. I wish I'd learnt how to live with a family, with friends, so that I could be surrounded by people. I don't mind being alone, but they say life is better with friends, and frankly I'm tired of being isolated.

And anything would have been better than how you treated me once you didn't have a babysitter for me anymore.

I wish mum had taken me away from you. I wish she'd taken me to Japan and I'd never see you again. She wasn't perfect, but at least she tried. She never made me feel scared or useless. She never made me feel unsafe. The only time she hit me, she apologised after calming down. You never apologised.

Did you know that stress causes cancer? Mum had to study a whole new language after we moved, she had to go to school and take care of the house, take care of me, take care of you, take care of herself, she had to do all the chores with half the time. I can't imagine how stressed she must have been. Not to mention I wasn't an easy child. Depression had already festered in me by then, and I was lashing out and hurt from years of bullying. Then the divorce came. She had to move to a new city, fix an income, deal with the divorce papers all while doing all of the above. And her mental health wasn't the best, either. I could never juggle all of that. You could never juggle all of that. It's amazing that she could. I think it killed her.

Mum lived in her flat for six months. Barely anything was unpacked when you emptied it. I've lived in my flat for eight months, and a decent amount of stuff is unpacked. I have books, most of my clothes, some random things from random boxes, not to mention kitchen things. Furniture has been shuffled around and I've run out of storage space. You really have nerve to compare the state of my living space to hers. Yes, I'll pack away everything and empty out the storage room so I can pack my clothes in non-existant drawers in there, and it'll be tidy.

Why don't you focus on your new, better, more perfect daughter instead of me? We both know you want to. She's skinny, pretty, quiet, good in school. I bet she doesn't binge eat or cut herself. I hope you treat her better than you treated me. She is your second chance. You have a second chance with your girlfriend. They are your family now.

See, this is it for me. I'm done with you. The nail in your coffin was, I think, when you refused treatment for me. You told me that day that you didn't actually care about me. You don't care about my well-being. I don't want to know what it is that's so much more important than my mental health that you refused treatment of my biggest problem. If you hadn't done that, I would have been having my first psychologist appointments around now. Now I've just started the process again, and the queue is even longer. I don't know how long it is. Three years, maybe? Honestly, I don't know if I can even make it that long.

Then again, you're the person who didn't believe me when I struggled until I took your pills.

Sometimes I wonder how I got off so easily. It's just depression, after all. A side of binge eating disorder, but really it's just depression.

Then again. Depression kills, too.

And the most effective prevention tool for depression is a strong support network.

You know, that's almost the bare minimum.

I'm done. As soon as I've got a stable income and a job, I'm moving out of this place so I'm not tied to your money anymore. I'll get as much of mum's old stuff from you as I can, and I'll take time off to dedicate to sorting through what I want to keep and what I want to give away. And then I'll block your number and be done with you. If I have to say goodbye to the rest of the extended family to do that, I will. If I have to move country to be rid of you, I will.

I am angry. I am disappointed. But most of all, I'm tired. I'm tired of being sad, worthless, suicidal. I'm tired of never being good enough, of always being in your shadow, of never living up to expectations. I'm tired of life. I'm tired of you.

I'm done. I'm out.