Years ago, I did not have a close relationship with my dad. Being raised by my mom and seeing my dad on a less-than-regular basis as I grew older, I didn’t feel my dad actually knew who I was underneath it all. Due to some personal losses in my life, I ended up reaching out to my dad in a very different way than I ever had before: for Father’s Day, I wrote him a letter titled, “11 Things You Don’t Know About Your Daughter.” I had no idea until I started writing what I was actually going to include in this letter. I just knew I wanted my dad to know me… the real me. I wrote this letter in 2015, when I was 24 years old. This letter sparked something within both my dad and I: a connection we never knew was there and a lasting impact on our relationship as a whole. I am still very close to my dad to this day, but this letter started it all.
I felt I wanted to share this letter on my blog in hopes that it helps others find an outlet too. I found this letter to be so therapeutic and also eye-opening. I felt I was learning things about my own self-growth as I wrote him this letter. Even just re-reading this letter for this blog brought back so many heartbreaking memories for me, when I was in the deepest of lows of my depression, but it has been such an enlightening experience to re-read it in 2019 and reflect on how much I have changed and grown. Even if you don’t feel you have someone to write this letter to, write it to yourself. You’d be surprised what comes out when you just start writing. ❤️ P.S. I’m going to block out specific names mentioned in this letter to offer privacy or delete certain statements if I don’t feel they’re relevant to this post. I also plan to do a blog post about a reaction to this letter I wrote almost 5 years ago as so much as changed and I have grown immensely. But here’s a glimpse into who I was during the worst of my depression:
“Happy Father’s Day!
June 21, 2015
I wanted to send you a letter because I know I couldn’t fit all this in a card. I figured I’d send you a letter to tell you how much I love you sand how nice it’s been to talk to you on a regular basis and see you in May. That weekend had a big impact on me because it was the first time in years that I saw how similar we are. Being such a momma’s girl, I’ve always shared more with her and felt I was basically a mini her. As I’ve gotten older, my personality has changed and I have a much better idea of who I am.
That being said, I learned that much of who I am comes from you, as well as mom. This realization made me unbelievably sad because I thought about our relationship over the past ten years and it wasn’t much of one. I spent my adolescent years and much of my early twenties revolving my time around my relationships, school, and work. I didn’t make time for you or (stepmom). I didn’t ever really see it as an issue, because my life felt at such a fast pace that it seemed before I knew it, it was time to see you again. This whole mentality kills me now because I feel as though I’ve been incredibly selfish in the past ten years. In my defense, much has happened within the past ten years that you’ve only gotten snippets of. I feel as though you don’t really know much about my life, other than what I tell you on our phone calls, which usually just cover work and school. I figured the best Father’s Day gift that I can give you is unknown knowledge about me. These things aren’t typical phone or “over the dinner table” conversations. They also aren’t things that, at the time they were happening, I felt comfortable sharing. But here goes.
1. I started going to counseling at 16. I started seeing a counselor because my relationship with (high school boyfriend). He was manipulative, controlling, and physically/emotionally abusive, I couldn’t tell you or mom. Mom could tell that was something that I was dealing with, but she knew I wouldn’t tell her, so she suggested the counselor that she was seeing at the time. (High school boyfriend) cheated multiple times. I was harassed at school and online for how “pathetic” I was to stay with him or take him back when he constantly cheated, which leads to #2.
2. I graduated high school early because I was being bullied. I became a joke to the senior class and everyone knew my business. I felt so exposed that I spent many times crying in the school bathrooms and in the school counselor’s office, I never ate lunch in the lunchroom because I had no one to sit with. I either ate in the bathroom or skipped it by spending my lunch time in the library, which leads to #3.
3. I don’t have many friends, I’ve had a few close girlfriends and that’s about it. In middle school, it was (childhood friend) who passed away in 2011 and (another childhood friend). In high school, most of my time revolved around (high school boyfriend) so his friends were “my” friends. This is something that I’ve really struggled with because I have trouble making friends and I have made no friends in college. Most of my classes, I am the one sitting in the last row. Most of the time, I feel invisible. This has really bothered me lately because I feel as though (boyfriend at the time’s) friends and family don’t like me. I’m too quiet, too shy, too this or that. Who I am isn’t enough for some people, which I understand, but I wish it weren’t people that I imagine will be in my life for some time. This has been an issue with (boyfriend at the time) and I because he tells me to try harder to get to know people and let them get to know me. He’s told me that I don’t give people a chance. The longer we discussed it, the more I realized how right he was… I just assume people won’t like me. He’s said that I’m difficult to get to know because I’m so closed off from new people. This leads to #4.
4. I almost always have a boyfriend or someone I’m seeing. I think it’s a combination of not having strong friendships to fall back on when I’m alone and because I struggle a lot being alone. I think this is a main reason I’ve always been so close to mom; she understands how much it hurts me when a boyfriend leaves me. I’m terrified to be alone and I don’t handle it well or in a healthy manner, which leads to #5.
5. I’ve dealt with severe depression for too long. I remember it pretty much started with (high school boyfriend). I think I started having depressive symptoms when I was 15, but it didn’t get severe until probably junior year at 17 years old. This was a terrible year for me, due to (high school boyfriend’s) constant cheating and this is also when I started getting harassed by random girls at my school through anonymous text messages. This is also when (high school boyfriend) got abusive. I had marks on my arms that a teacher noticed once. She pulled me out of class to ask me about it but I denied it. I handled my depression terribly and immaturely in high school and honestly made a fool out of myself. As I’ve gotten older, my depression has hit me harder during certain times. My relationship with (college undergrad boyfriend) was up and down as well, because he cheated too and I stayed with him even after I found out. When we broke up in August 2013, this was when my depression hit its absolute worst, which leads to #6.
#6. The worst year of my life was 2014. This will be a long one, so I’ll break it up to make it easier to read and follow.
I deleted most of #6 due to the amount of self-disclosure, but chose to keep certain statements I had made between it all.
August 2013: (College undergrad boyfriend) and I broke up… I distinctly remember spending my birthday night crying over him… I just did my best to get through work or classes, but I honestly skipped classes or left work early because I couldn’t stop crying long enough.
January/February 2014: I struggled more than I ever had before... February was very lonely for me and I felt like I didn’t want to be here anymore.
March 2014: I had been bawling on my bedroom floor, as I was saying, “God, please help me.”… (Met someone new) I felt he was meant to come into my life to save me… I tried to be who he wanted me to be because I was scared to lose him and be alone again.
April 2014: I tried standing up for myself and he’d usually talk his way out of it and I’d fall for it.
May-August 2014: I felt I was meaningless during my time with him… I didn’t accept myself… he hurt me more than any of the others because I never felt like I was enough for him.
October 2014: I remember I actually enjoyed my birthday that year because I was surrounded by people that made me forget how much I had been hurting.
November 2014: (high school boyfriend) had unexpectedly passed away this November… I couldn’t understand why I cared as much as I did, despite all he put me through.
December 2014: I had a UTI that wasn’t responding to 3 types of antibiotics… I was constantly in pain. I remember feeling like I’d feel this pain for the rest of my life.
2014 was my worst year and I think this month by month layout gives you an idea why.
7. I’ve questioned my future many times. I’m not entirely sure I want to be a counselor at times or if it’s what I’d want to be my entire life. I think part of it is questioning my ability or thinking that my experiences in this grad program reflect what my counseling career will look like. I feel I’m pushing my desire for a family further away because I want my career set in stone and to be financially stable. I realize this is responsible but I feel I’m putting off things I’d rather be spending my life doing. I also feel I decided this career at 16 years old and didn’t allow myself wiggle room to figure out if this truly what I want to do. I find it selfish to think that I don’t want to be a counselor so I’ve stuck with my program. My experiences in high school are why I want to help kids, but I worry sometimes that this path wasn’t the best fit for me.
8. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I was younger, I wrote short stories. As I got older, I journaled often. I’d stay up late in the night writing ideas for novels, creating character back–stories. I lost this creativity in high school. If I could choose one career without worry of financial stability, it’d be writing.
10. I hate being alone but I fear it’ll eventually happen in any relationship. I expect partners to get bored with me or find someone “better” since this has happened many times. I think a part of me just waits for it to happen.
11. I’m very connected to music. It’s been a deeper connection as I’ve gotten older, because I use music to cope. I use it to help with depression and I’ve found it to be very therapeutic. I thought I’d share some songs with you that got me through last year, as well as some that I listen to now that I love or they mean something to me personally. These songs are how I remember my years. I’d love for you to listen to them in your free time. I honestly think these songs are the best way for you to get to know me in a way that you never have before. They’ll tell you more than I ever could about struggles I’ve dealt with, things I’ve felt or thought about.
I listed many songs for my dad in the letter, but didn’t feel the need to list them here. I’ve also written a blog about how therapeutic music can be and shared a similar music timeline. 🙂
After re-reading this letter, my heart breaks for the amount of pain I was in for so long. I was also in such denial throughout most of these experiences, but that is what’s so beautiful about therapeutic writing: you GROW. You LEARN. You ADAPT. I hardly recognize the 24-year-old who wrote this 19 page letter because I am nothing like her today. As mentioned above, I plan to write a post reacting to this letter and how I made healthy changes in my life; as well as how I took ownership of the toxic and unhealthy things I was doing to contribute to my depression and fallout of relationships. I hope this serves as motivation for others to try this! Write a letter to a loved one, a lost one, or yourself. See what comes out. 🌱