An Open Letter to my Father: What I Never Bother Saying 

dear-dad

Image Description: the words, “Dear Dad” written in the bisexual colors of pink, purple, and blue on a dirty piece of white lined paper.

[TW: references to emotional abuse and queerphobia]

A few months ago I finally told my father and mother I am bisexual. Not surprisingly, their responses have less than decent. I’ve known for years there is no hope for my mother. I could explain how I know this but that would take far too long, so I’ll save that for another post. Just believe that I know my mother better than you, and I know she’ll never accept any of her children, least of all her queer, bisexual child. However, I allowed myself to hope my father might one day come around. I didn’t think he would go with me to bi pride events or buy himself a bi flag t-shirt that reads, “proud parent,” but I hoped he would get used to who I am and develop a “live and let live” approach at some point. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly obvious that will never happen.

Upon first breaking the news to my father, he was clearly displeased and asked several inappropriate questions. His actions proceeded to go downhill from there. Most recently, he sent me some unsolicited opinions on what he does and does not find disappointing about me. He wanted to let me know that while he is not disappointed in me per se, he is disappointed in my “lifestyle choices.” However, he reassured me that he does love me in spite of the whole bi thing, and that I could see how much he loves me if only I stopped focusing on the negatives in our relationship and focused instead on the positives. After his other recent stunts that I don’t particularly want to get into right now, I’m done. I’m over him. He’s just not worth my time anymore. He doesn’t get it and never will, so I won’t bother explaining to him how offensive and problematic his comments were.

But if I thought he would listen to me for once, I would say: Telling your child you love them despite not liking, accepting, or even tolerating a significant part of who they are is not love. That’s called emotional abuse. And if that’s the only form of “love” you’re capable of giving, I’m really not interested. There are much better people in my life who actually love me and who are worth my time. So, excuse me, but I’m not exactly heartbroken over not having a close relationship with you. You, the father who abused my mother and sister in front of me when I was little. The father who has regularly made sexist and queerphobic comments within earshot my entire life. The father who yelled at me, blamed my mother, and refused to get me professional help when you found me trying to down a Costco-sized bottle of benadryl at 13. The father who slammed me into walls. The father who literally laughed in my face when I confronted you about your abusive behavior. The father who still continues to gaslight me. In fact, I am a much healthier person for not really having you in my life.

And please believe me when I say I’m not going to suddenly run home one day and tell you I forgive you and know that you always loved me. There’s nothing to forgive because you won’t change or apologize. Forgiveness requires some sort of reconciliation. To be honest, you seem to lack the ability to perform any sort of meaningful self-reflection that is required for mutual acts of reconciliation. Instead, I am moving on with my life and surrounding myself with decent people who love me for me; people who love all of me. (That’s how real love works, FYI.) And based on your behavior toward me, how exactly am I supposed to know that you love me? I’m sure you think you love me, but that doesn’t mean anything. Love has to be given in a way that can be received. Metaphorically throwing your self-centered version of love at people and assuming it will stick is not an effective or equitable method of conveying love. I would even believe you “love” me as much as you are capable,  but again, that doesn’t mean much to me when that “love” is twisted, selfish, abusive, and manipulative.

Your queerphobia, hatred, and inability to convey healthy love to your children are your own problems, not mine. It isn’t my job to justify your bigotry, ease your conscience, or make you feel like you’re loving me appropriately. I don’t owe you my love or understanding when you believe I, your own child, shouldn’t exist because of who I happen to be attracted to. I don’t owe you my time or affection simply because you gave me half my DNA. I don’t even owe you an explanation for why I don’t want to be around you. I don’t owe you shit. And I’m not going to sacrifice my emotional well-being to make you feel better about yourself.

If you ever decide to work through these issues, great. Professional therapy is a wonderful tool that I utilize myself. But I’m not interested in having a relationship with you. I’m not bitter; I’m simply done. If we need to conduct any sort of business together, I will be superficial, yet civil. But I will not listen to your excuses, nor your sad little pity parties about how I don’t acknowledge your shitty version of love.

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