I love you and miss you. I wanted to start out by saying that. I think one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from my experiences is how to love unconditionally, and how to forgive, even when those who hurt me aren’t asking for forgiveness. I will love you unconditionally until the day I die, and I forgive you for not being able to give me the same.
My heart hurts, regardless of my ability to love and forgive. I feel abandoned and rejected by the one single man that I never in a million years thought would leave me. This has destroyed my ability to trust in others. To believe that I’m really loved by anyone, or that I’m even worth loving. I spent a long, cold, dark winter collapsed in a heap on my cabin floor, crying for this loss of love and support that I so heavily relied on. I grew up being rejected and abandoned by those that I thought loved me – the Jehovah Witness community I was raised in. Because I didn’t fit in their idea of someone who could be loved, I was tossed out. I came to rely on the support system I slowly built up around me – you, my father. My brothers. My friends. But you, you were the one who had always made me believe I was worthy of being loved, despite everything that had happened. You were the one I looked to for strength, validation, support, and praise. And for that, I have to ask for your forgiveness. That’s an enormous amount to put on a person who never asked for it. I put you on a pedestal and heaped my expectations on you. I took what I needed to survive without even asking if you had it in you to give, and then I took too much. I’m truly sorry for that, Dad.
For as much as my heart feels cracked wide open from being abandoned by the person I thought cared about me more than anyone else in my life did, I know I’ve caused you hurt, too. I know how close and private you like to keep our family problems. I know you’re ashamed that those stories are out there for others to read, and you’re angry at me for putting them out there. I need you to know that I never intended to cause you anger, hurt, or shame. I knew it was a possibility, but it was worth the risk, in order to heal myself. Maybe that sounds selfish to you, but Dad, I was inches from considering ending my life. I was so deep inside the anguish in my heart and head and I couldn’t get out of it. Writing these stories, experiences, and feelings down, it healed me. Receiving validation of my feelings from others healed me. Hearing that it wasn’t anything that was wrong with ME that caused this estrangement from the church and my mother, it healed me. Hearing that my stories were helping others who are going through the same things I went through, that healed me. Hearing from others that I AM worth loving, regardless of what the Elders said, it healed me. It brought me back out of that deep, dark, dangerous hole I was in, where I thought the world would be better off without me.
You might not ever be able to forgive me, and I have to find a way to come to terms with that. But you have to know that I did it to survive, and to help others survive. I hope that we can both get past our anger and hurt and come to trust each other again, and show the love I think we both have for each other. I think life is too short to hold on to that pain and anger. But even if you can’t, I’ll still be here, loving you, and mom, and the rest of my family, as hard as I can for the rest of my life.