Learning to Live without Dad: A Letter to a Younger Me

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Dear Younger Me,

Your anger and confusion comes with the territory of being fatherless. Don’t dwell on your inadequacies and don’t equate academic achievement with self-worth. Don’t let excuses allow you to be angry and bitter. Though you share DNA with someone you may never know, you at least need to know yourself.

Ignoring his absence will only widen the wound and worsen the pain. He wasn’t here for your birth. You couldn’t have his last name nor share in his presence. His name will fade like a memory. Yet, his absence will be ever so present. Don’t give him the benefit of controlling you when you’ve never met. Of course, you didn’t see it that way then, but you eventually will. Consumed with anger and haunted by rejection, just know that while your anger is justified; your bitterness is toxic. You will become a walking dark cloud of depression. The choices you make will make you.

This will affect your understanding of your worth, how you connect with other males and your ability to allow any possible role model to come your way. You will become prideful and your pride will lead you to feel as if you must prove yourself every chance you get.  You’ll reject any possible help because you’ve developed a sense of mistrust towards men and will become accustomed to rejecting all things male, since that’s all you’ve come to know. Soon you’ll grow from your writing and discover a different perspective on your circumstances.

Some nights you’ll stay up late wondering: Where are you? Do you not want me? Am I not good enough? Know it was never your fault. No more crying, no more anger and no more wondering. You’ll reach a place in your life where you no longer feel like: He’s the adult, he should reach out to me, or he’s the dad why doesn’t he care enough to come see me? As years pass, a new perspective will form. You’ll come to learn that whatever the reason for his absence, you may never really need him. He might not be a suitable dad. His absence might save you in the long run. His involvement might cause your life more confusion than you thought.

It’ll dawn on you that playing it off as a silly scratch and not as an infected wound will only cause your father’s choice to abandon you to seep its way into other aspects of your life. You will walk with an empty void meant for him, but fill it naively with things that were never meant to fit the mold.

With time and a desire to grow, excuses will fall away. Facing the mature reality that issues have to be worked through and dealt with will not register in your mind until later. Throwing a chair will no longer be your second favorite form of expression and raising your voice will not be your first. Your hardened demeanor will soften and your balled fists will no longer be for fighting but to express your love of writing.

Sooner than later you’ll become the one thing you hate—a man. College will approach soon and there will be too many occasions where you must face your fears. You will reach a point where his absence will no longer define you. Your fear of becoming a man will no longer haunt you. As you’ve grown up your circumstances have worked for you and not against you. What you missed out on and what you did not have shows you what you should do and what you should have.

Everyone has problems and you don’t want to grow up to become a man with immature tendencies. Victimization will no longer be your guiding light and accepting the hand you were dealt will become your philosophy. Yes, it’s tough to be fatherless, but you’ll grow up to appreciate women and the relationships you did form. You’ll understand that “what’s for you is for you” and “who’s for you is for you.” So wipe your eyes, unclench your fist and know that you’ll soon become a better example of a man than you ever had.

Sincerely,

An older and much happier me

He is currently a sophomore at the University of Florida, majoring in English. He loves to write and is passionate about all things social! With the two, he aims to make an indelible mark on the American legal system

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