[Editor’s Note: Welcome back Christine!]
When I’m bored, I like to look through old essays I have saved on my computer.
I like to revisit these files and see the state of mind I was in when writing. Was I feeling sad? Was I happy? Was that time in my life an exciting one?
During one of my recent moments of file revisiting, I came across one that made me pause.
Lettertobob.doc stared me in the face, and I honestly could not remember what it said. I knew exactly who the letter was written to; but what did I say? Normally, when I see the name of a file, I am easily able to remember what it is and then I can choose to open it and read it…or not.
I drew a blank.
I sat for a few moments, nervous. I could hear dramatic soap opera music playing in the background as my fingers teetered back and forth over the mouse buttons.
I was having an overdramatic stare off with my computer screen and Lettertobob.doc was winning.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF BOB
Bob is a DICK.
Bob is also my biological father.
Bob married my mom in 1979, a few months before I was born. They moved to Tennessee, where Bob was stationed in the Navy. They had my brother in 1982. Our “happy” little family moved back to North Carolina two years later after Bob was discharged from the Navy. In North Carolina, he became a pretty popular car audio installer and late night club deejay. In 1992, Bob announced to my mom that he was going to be divorcing her so he could marry her best friend. After a whirlwind divorce (my parents lied and had witnesses lie to say they had been separated for the required year to speed the process up), Bob moved to Florida with his new fiancé. There they had two children of their own and he never spoke to me or my brother again.
Or so I thought…
Two years ago, Bob’s sister (my aunt) died of a large tumor in her stomach. Because my grandparents were already dead, everything was left to Bob and his brother.
For the first time in 23 years, Bob had to come back to North Carolina.
My brother was excitedly curious. Since my dad left, he always had issues with anger that was easily reduced to, “Oh, his dad left him when he was 10.” So for him, this was a possible chance at establishing a new kind of relationship with his dad. His real dad.
My mother asked me if I was going to see Bob and quickly got her answer with the homicidal glare in my eyes.
Why? Why would I have the desire to see him again ever? He obviously didn’t care about me once he left. He doesn’t deserve to know how I am doing. The Queen (I call myself that sometimes) will not grace that peasant with her presence.
I brought up the fact that Bob was in town to my best friend the next time we were on the phone.
“Are you going to see him?” she asked.
I scoffed. “No. Why would I?” I looked at my phone like it was crazy. “I don’t have anything to say to that man, and I got the one thing out of the house that I wanted. I’m good.”
“You could tell him how you feel, how you have felt since he has left,” she answered back.
My best friend is a pretty persuasive person. She knows me inside and out, and I thought it was cute that she thought she could push this issue. I was not budging on this one. I was not going to see this man, even if someone paid me.
Besides, he doesn’t deserve to know how he made me feel back then. He didn’t care then and I don’t care now.
“You could write him a letter at least,” she finally suggested after hearing my long ass explanation as to why I would not be visiting that house as long as Bob was there.
“Maybe,” I finally relented.
Of course, this was a very half-hearted statement. I never planned to write Bob a letter. Hell, I looked for ways to get out of writing stuff I actually needed and wanted to write.
Then, I thought about all the things I could possibly say to him.
I thought about everything I had always said to other people when it came to my feelings about Bob.
Why did he get to live like he didn’t have kids before the 2.0’s (the name I lovingly gave his new kids)?
He got to walk out of our lives—lives he had ignored for twelve years—and start over again without thinking what he had left behind.
So I wrote the letter.
Actually, I started, and erased the letter like twenty times.
That was when I realized I was still very angry.
I knew I was angry because I noticed the words I kept deleting were the swear words. That may seem a little backwards because usually when people are angry, they swear.
Swearing is an everyday part of my vocabulary. You may not think that it is very becoming of a lady to swear as much as I do, but I fucking love it.
Not swearing meant that I was beyond angry, and I found myself deleting more and more words.
I changed, “Dear Sorry Motherfucking Bastard Deadbeat Asshole” to “Bob.”
I edited, rewrote, revised, and mulled over this letter.
I thought back to how I felt as a child, then as a teenager, and even as a young adult who knew deep down inside she already had issues because of this.
At 13, I broke out of my little girl shell and became this outspoken fireball; the girl who wanted to show everyone how okay she was.
At 16, I already started pushing people away before they could get close enough to hurt me.
At 21, I broke the heart of someone I really loved and who was truly something special in my life all because I was an evil bitch that had no concern for other’s feelings and the consequences my actions had.
At the time, I just thought these were things everyone did. Looking back, I know there was more to it. I knew where I had seen and learned some of my actions and why I handled situations the way I did, and I hated it.
I never wanted to be the person that could be defined by divorce. I never wanted anyone to look at me, at how I lived my life, and connect it back to Bob leaving. I refused to be that person. But in trying so hard to not be that person, I never realized that was who I had become.
In the midst of writing this letter, I was crying and mad as fuck. Everything I felt as a teenager who was confused and not worthy of her dad’s love came out in that letter.
I made sure to stab as hard as I could with the words; the professional, non-emotional, flat words.
I was not going to let him see the pain I had bottled up inside; not in person, and not in this letter. This was going to be a documentation of all the wrongs he had done to his kids.
Alphabets became the slaps I wanted to plant across Bob’s face. Exclamation points took place of screams and sarcasm flooded each paragraph. I made sure he knew every impact on my life; the good and the bad. I needed him to know that while he haunted me, I was and was going to always be okay.
After I finished, I gave the letter to my mom. I asked her to give it to him the next time she went to my aunt’s house and I never wanted to talk about it again. I sealed that part of my life away in that envelope and I didn’t care to know how he felt when he read it. His feelings didn’t matter.
This was not for him. It was for me.
I read lettertobob.doc for the first time since writing it the other day.
It is funny how something leaves you.
Sometimes, you can feel it. The day is a little lighter and the night is a little easier. Those around you can see the more you smile and the way you carry yourself differently. There is a pep in your step. Things got better and you can see it.
But sometimes, it is a quieter transformation. Small whispers of change inside that even you don’t notice until you do. You just do. You hear yourself speak to someone or linger on a thought a little longer than normal and you realize that something is different.
Reading back over the letter I wrote to Bob forced that whisper of change into a shout. A quick shout inside my head that said “Look! Look at what you don’t do anymore and look at what you let go!”
The tears I cried when I read back over that letter were no longer tears of pain and frustration. They were tears of revelation.
I realized that I no longer pointed out in a conversation that Bob left us when I was a kid. I wore that fact almost as a badge, and that letter helped me take that badge off and throw it away.
I’ve become more trusting than I was before. Obviously I am not a doormat, and I still have my issues with trust; but I no longer have that brick wall built to the top, forcing people to break through that before getting to know all the wonderful things about me.
Writing that letter became so much more than a chance to throw in Bob’s face everything I wanted to say to him when I was growing up. I thought it was about how I could make him feel and to see the pain I carried around inside; pain I didn’t even know was there.
Lettertobob.doc was my long overdue therapy session.
I knew art in every form can help release emotions that we don’t normally let out. Hell, I use music and painting as a way to express myself. To be honest, while I love to write, I never thought of it being one of my expressive outlets—not one that I expressed my deep inner feelings, anyways. But writing that letter helped me to experience that, and I will forever be grateful.