To the father who was inconsistent:

From the day I was born, the first breath I took, the first kicks, screams and arm gestures, until the first time I opened my eyes, I had no idea that you weren’t there and never really would be. Honestly, I don’t remember a memory for maybe six or seven years with you. I really don’t remember seeing you on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, July 4th, my birthday, or any other important day I can think of until maybe college, if not high school. I should have known then how things were going to be, but I commend my mom for letting me decide for myself and never denigrating you.

It’s hard for me not to hit you, and I’m doing my best because you gave me life, something I’m grateful to have. For much of my childhood, I thought something was wrong with me. Like I’m the reason you didn’t want to be there. Other children spoke of their father, their father picked them up from school or they attended training and matches. For my part, I often had to ride a bike with someone else or just walk home because my mom was working to take care of my sister and me on my own.

Then you came back

Towards the end of elementary, it seemed like something had changed in you, as you started calling here and there, and you even managed to spend a day or two with me a month, in what I thought was a busy schedule. It would continue until college and being naive I never thought it would end. Maybe it would’ve been easier for you to level up now because my grandmother, your mom, worked in Milwood, my college. I’m not sure if she was encouraging you to come because she felt I needed it, or what was, but I was happy and was starting to gain self-esteem.

I played basketball for years, I don’t think you knew I was playing elementary school, I even sprained my wrist once while playing in fourth grade. Anyway, I was delighted to give you my schedule for the grade 7 basketball season, hoping to see you in the stands. I don’t know why but it was like it was the last straw, you felt that I got too close, and you cut the tie. I saw you in 1 game that I can remember and I swore I would never give you so much time or energy again.

Preparing for my own success

Throughout my 8th and high school years, I played 4 different sports, got a college letter in 4 sports, graduated from high school, and got a full scholarship to play lacrosse and study communications at the Adrian College. You hardly saw any of it, and only saw each other two games in my 8th grade and none of my four years in high school. You didn’t attend my signing day, my high school graduation or my move-in date. You were back to being the ghost you once were.

As far back as I can remember, I have struggled with all forms of relationships except my mom. I’ve hurt a lot of feelings since I was 8th, mostly girlfriends who I felt were getting too close. I’ve let in a handful of people I trust, but getting into my circle is arguably more difficult than scooping up frozen peanut butter. I’m going to push people away or even sabotage relationships to make sure I don’t feel the same pain you caused when you left.

Heal and move on

As I begin to heal and struggle with the trauma of abandoning my childhood, I realized that this letter was long overdue. Writing has always been the most effective outlet for my feelings and trauma, well outside of sport, but I never had the courage to put pen to paper. I thought hiding the pain and running away like you did would help, but it only made it worse. I wondered “Is an inconsistent father better than an absent father?” I got my answer, and I wish you had been an absent dad, but anyway, it went well.

I’ll end with this: I forgive you for the decisions you have made. I may never quite understand why, but it may not be for me to know. I no longer have any hatred or resentment towards you and have started to tear down the walls surrounding abandonment. I promise my future wife, my future children and more importantly myself that I will be a much better and more active father than you have ever been.

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