To the father who chose to walk out of my life 30 years ago, this is my letter to you.
As I write this, it’s hard for me to form a clear picture in my mind of who I am actually speaking to. Because the reality is, I don’t know you. I never have.
If I push my imagination to its limit, I can start to picture a tall and somewhat handsome man with the same pointed jawline and thick dark hair that I was blessed with. This blurry image is all developed from my mother’s memory, of course, as I don’t even have the luxury of a living photograph of you. So here I am, daydreaming about the possibilities of some elusive being that I happen to share the same blood with.
What I do know is that you were in your late teens when my mother told you she was pregnant with me. Such a daunting and life-changing experience at such a tender age, I know. That was the thought I so desperately clung to when I also became a teenager and started to understand the reality of my family situation.
It was easier for me to make excuses for you back then. I constantly told myself you were “too young, too terrified, too naive,” or just “not capable of raising a child.”
Until you chose to reject me again when I was 18 years old, that is.
I remember sitting down with my mother and explaining that I wanted to find you. To maybe get to know you, or simply just see who you were as a person after the years of unknown. Luckily (or so I thought), she was able to track down one of your old friends who knew where to find you. She asked him to show you a recent photograph of me and inform you that I wanted to contact you.
I spent weeks going through a whole range of emotions as I waited for a response. Excitement, fear, wonder, and apprehension growing more and more with each passing day. But then came the answer my heart absolutely feared.
“I don’t want to see her. There’s too much water under the bridge now.”
As anyone can imagine, my heart shattered in a moment. It ached for the baby, who was abandoned without being given a chance. It ached for the little girl who made excuses of why her biological father chose not to be in her life. And it ached for the adult I now was, who had been rejected a second time.
I had so many questions I desperately wished I could ask you.
What went through your mind when you saw those photos of me as a fully grown woman? Did you recognize yourself in my eyes? Was the memory of your past just too much for you to cope with?
But now, 12 years later, I no longer need answers to those questions. Because that’s one of the painful but necessary parts of life, isn’t it? Realizing that we may never get the closure that we are searching for, but learning to forgive and move forward anyway.
Of course, I could let myself feel resentment towards you, plague my mind with the thought of what I would say to you if we ever crossed paths, and carry the pain of your choices on my shoulders for the rest of my life. But instead, I choose to release those emotions and replace them with forgiveness, empathy, and thankfulness.
You never saw me in my beautiful prom dress at 16 years old. You missed my university graduation ceremony at 23 years old, then again a year later when I graduated top of my class with a master’s degree. You never got to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. You won’t have the opportunity to be a part of all of your future grandchildren’s lives or great-grandchildren. You missed seeing me grow into the strong and successful woman I am today.
So, for all you have and will miss, I feel empathy for you.
The pain of your choices has taught me that I can survive any rejection or trauma that I may experience. It made me realize that my strength is incomparable and never wavers through all of life’s challenges. My unsteady start in life fuelled me to work hard and achieve the success I have today.
I was lucky enough to be raised and loved by my adoptive father and experience an incredible father-daughter bond that I will never take for granted. And from this experience, I have a deep understanding of the true meaning of family. It is more about souls connecting and loving one another unconditionally and not so much about sharing the same DNA. So, for all of these lessons, I feel a sense of thankfulness to you.
Now here I am today, marveling at how I was able to overcome my early traumas and still turn into a strong, intelligent, and empathic woman, rather than allowing it to break my spirit. For that, I am proud, and I think you would be too if you ever read this.
I can’t change the choices you made in the past. I can’t change the heartache and confusion I experienced as a child. And I can’t control whether you will ever decide that you want to find me. But I can choose to let this pain go and not let it darken my view of the world. I can decide to give myself closure and move on, even though I may never have all of the answers. I can choose to love and appreciate the non-biological family who has always been there for me.
I can’t change my past, but I can choose how I live from now… and I choose to forgive you.