A letter I won’t send to my estranged father: Real Life

This isn’t fiction. It isn’t a short story. It’s part of that honesty thing a few commendable people do on the internet. I know it’s my 3rd post today, but I’m getting more and more views  and I’m feeling a sense of community in this strange, modern blogosphere universe. I have my own community in the third dimension–I have fabulous family and friends, but they don’t understand. Maybe one of you strangers out there on your laptops and tablets will. I think it’s one of those situations you can’t understand unless you’re stuck living it…


When I was twelve and my father dramatically exited my life, my mother recommended I write him letters. Sure, he would never read them. I had no address, even if I did get up the courage. But maybe that was point—to write freely without any repercussions. I could say exactly what I needed to and wanted to, for me and only me. I got myself some of that elusive ‘closure’ through one-sided conversations with the keyboard of my desktop computer. And I grew up. And my life changed. And I got my own problems. And he wasn’t really one of them anymore. I stopped caring enough to write him letters years ago.


And now, for whatever reason, he’s back. It’s not letters I’m writing anymore. It’s emails. And it’s not a keyboard I’m chatting with. It’s him—the real him. And the irony is that after all these years of practically writing dissertations on his flawed character, I don’t know a thing about him. And I don’t really want to.


So, this is the email to my father I won’t send. This is the email I want to send. Soon I’ll post the email I do send. After I send it. If I send it. If you can relate to this, please comment. I’ve never shared real feelings about my father before. I haven’t wanted to in years. Blogging seems like a good way to do this. Strangers in the mist, coming together under topic headings: humor, creative writing, news, estranged fathers, etc. If I can’t send it to him, at least someone will understand. And even if no one reads it, I’ll sleep better knowing I did something. Anything.




Dear [I still don’t know what to call him],


I’m sorry I haven’t emailed you back in a month. My life has been complicated recently. My dog died and my aunt was diagnosed with cancer. My boyfriend and I also broke up, but I wasn’t bent out of shape or anything. I miss his car more than I miss him.


But those are just excuses, so I feel that I owe you a real explanation. Or, I guess, I want to give you a real explanation. My friends say I don’t owe you anything, but I don’t buy that. You’re not a bad person. It’s taken me ten years to acknowledge it, but I always knew. Most fathers who abandon their kids aren’t. Not really. You never set out to be that guy. I know that. Just a bunch of unforeseeable circumstances and situations that amount to a bunch of unforgiveable excuses. But your motivations don’t change anything. You aren’t a bad person, but you were bad to me. And that should mean something.


When we first talked, I told you I was open to this. And I meant it. I’ve tried to explain my emotions to friends to no success. It’s been some ten years since we stopped talking and I was very young at the time. Sure, it changed me. I grew up a little faster. I cried a lot more. I went from having two families to one and not a day has gone by that I didn’t miss my sisters, who were never ‘half’ or ‘step’ as much as ‘mine.’


But still. Ten years is a long time, even longer for a teenager. I dedicated a lot of time to obsessing over it all. Trying to figure why everyone did what they did. How it all happened. I know you have your opinions and I’m sure you’d love to justify yourself. Don’t bother. It’s irrelevant now.


Part of my obsession was imaging how I’d react if I ever saw you again. I knew every scenario. Planned for everything you would say. Sometimes I would publically shame you. Sometimes we’d end up best friends, you walking me down the aisle at my wedding. Sometimes I would act aloof, show you just how much I overcame the obstacles you put in my childhood. And then, one day, I came to the realization I might never see you again. I might have these conversations with your gravestone. And after more time, I was okay with that. Even more time passed. I grew up. And I stopped thinking about you at all.


The day my grandparents called me was very emotional. I was still in high school and immature. I didn’t know why your parents, who had stopped speaking to me on your request, were trying to revive such a painful relationship. But my mother convinced me it was the right thing to do. They seemed like they were dying, anyhow. I felt obligated. That sounds harsh, but it’s true.


Five years into a copy and paste relationship with them, they handed me a cell phone with you on the other end. The unexpected moment came and an unexpected emotion came with it—apathy. I felt nothing. No anger. No fear. No pain. You were a stranger. Disconnected from whatever residual emotions I feel for my adolescent experience.


I never understood the inclination for an abandoned child not to speak with a relative later in life. Not really. I know people like this. Estranged parents call, half siblings send messages on facebook, a grandparents shows up at the door. I know people who have sent their relatives packing and I thought I understood it. I thought it was like the Lifetime movies: all sappy emotion and soggy tears. I felt superior to those people. Of course I could handle my father reentering my life. I’d give him shit, obviously, but I made my own closure. No sappy emotion or soggy tears here.


But I was wrong. It’s not a Lifetime movie at all. The orchestra doesn’t swell and the rain doesn’t pour. I did make my own closure. I made it years ago through telling myself over and over again I could do it without. And then I did do it without you. And it stopped being that I did it without you. It was just that I did it.


I also always said I’d let you back in my life in the hopes of seeing my sisters again. That was always the goal. They were the true innocents in it all, too young to even know that I wasn’t at Hogwarts. I’m sure one day they grew old enough to ask what really happened to me. I’m unsure if I want to know what you told them.


Is that my goal now? Maybe. But they’ve grown up too. They have lives, too. And what should I tell them when they ask why I haven’t been in their lives? I don’t want them to hate you. I really don’t. I spent too much of my life hating you and it’s exhausting, unsustainable. But how do I explain that their father cut their sister out of their lives because their mother believed their sister inherited the evil eye from their sister’s mother? And that she was trying to blow them up with her voodoo magic? That’s too macabre for most adults, let alone teenagers. How do they reconcile loving you and loving me? If it’s a choice between the two, I honestly wish them their parents’ love first. I don’t want them to have ‘daddy issues.’ Daddy issues suck.


So, now. I’ve made my closure. I would love to see my sisters, but not at the expense of their overall familial stability. And you—you’re a stranger. A ghost from a haunted past I don’t revisit often, except to smile and acknowledge as ‘conquered.’ And you want to resurrect that ghost. To meld the images in my mind with a solid person who lives and breathes and responds to my emails. My life is complicated. I’m happy my life is complicated. I want my own problems. I want to cry because the boy I like didn’t text me back. I’m trying to make my own life, separate from the problems imposed on me by a failed parent. I’m not angry with you. I’m not hurt by you. I just don’t want anything from you. At all. Truly.


This isn’t how I want to feel. Maybe the coping mechanisms I developed were forms of detachment and I’m going about this all wrong. If I could make myself care, I would. I’m sure it would be nice to have a father. I remember when we were close. You were great. I look at my twenty-something year old friends’ relationships with their fathers and I think, that looks awesome! I wouldn’t mind having that. But realistically we wouldn’t have that. It will always be a little strained. You’ll always be tiptoeing around me, making up for lost time. I’ll always feel detached, even if I become fond of you. And I don’t want more obligatory relationships in my life. I want meaningful ones. As harsh as it is, you don’t mean enough to me anymore. In any capacity.


I could be convinced otherwise. I’m a chronic flip-flopper. If you send me reasons to keep this up, I will. Call me pessimistic, but I think you’ll come up short. This isn’t a Lifetime movie. This is life. This is me, your little girl grown up. I’ve done damn well for myself, but I’m not a great person. I’m just normal. And considering everything I dealt with, that’s one hell of a triumph. I’m sorry if I’m not what you expected. I’m not what I expected either. All this still seems as unreal as it was when I was twelve years old wondering why it happened to me. Self-pity. Dangerous stuff. I try to avoid it.


Write me back. Don’t write me back. I guess it doesn’t matter in the long run. I want to be honest. I want to tell you what I really think and feel, although I’m not really sure myself. Take it or leave it, but the fact is that you’re going to have to convince me that you’re worth the trouble. Good luck and, if you feel so inclined, give my sisters a secret kiss for me? At least I could console myself with that.




your daughter, all grown up




50 thoughts on “A letter I won’t send to my estranged father: Real Life

  1. Found your blog through ‘My thoughts on a page’

    I have two stepsons (the youngest is living and working in Amsterdam 😆 )

    At dinner one evening, the eldest told us teacher had conducted a survey in class that day – only 1/2 dozen kids were living with two biological parents, the rest were either living with their mum or with their mum and her new partner. Time was, couples would stay together in a loveless/abusive relationship for the sake of the kids. Here in the UK at least, that no longer seems to be the case

    Sadly, when couples do split, it is not just the relationship between the kids and their dad that is fractured, other relationships (links to grandparents and step siblings) are also at risk of being lost – as your post so eloquently illustrates !

    Whether it is better for kids in the long run to grow up in a toxic home atmosphere but have continuing relationships with any step- brothers or sisters, and grandparents or to grow up in a home environment with one loving parent but at the cost of losing contact with wider family relation, is a difficult question – one I have no answer to

    1. I just came back from Amsterdam, actually! Awesome place. I got really into bikes while there, although I almost wiped out on several occasions. I’m sure your stepson can understand 🙂

      Yeah, the nuclear family definitely isn’t what it was. My parents separated when I was extremely young and I’ve never really given the divorce much attention. I grew up with two families and that seemed normal to me. I’m glad they divorced. I would much prefer them happy separated than together and miserable. But then again, I never had parents together so I have no point of comparison.

      I think it works if the parents juggle things well. In my case, my dad juggled for 12 years and then decided it wasn’t worth the effort. The split was from me, not my mom. We had been very very close although I only saw him on weekends. My half sisters and my step mother were family because I grew up with them. Unconventional, sure, but it seemed to work. I think in my case it just fell apart.

      It’s sad, but this whole reuniting thing is kind of over my head. After something like that happens, it’s sad but you move on. It’s not so much getting over it as coping. I think a lot of kids who lose a parent early don’t consider it the tragedy of their lives. It’s just a fact, so having it dug up so long after is… strange. That’s really the word. It’s weird.

      Funny world we live in.

      Thanks for reading!

      1. Burton

        Hey Anne,

        Not sure if you still post on your blog (seeing as this is an old post) but I do hope you got your closure. Its funny how I came across your blog especially now that I’m faced with a similar situation of my own. I really want to write a letter to my estranged father for closure but I’m having trouble getting it started. Your (pre and post) letters capture the essence of your emotions perfectly, even the ones that you don’t put on paper. I can relate to a lot of these feelings.

        Anyways, thank you for your brave post. Its really motivated me to write that letter that I have so desperately put off. I feel as though I’ll be able to get the closure I’ve needed all these years.

    2. warninghugeass

      This and the letter you DID send to your father hit home for me. I haven’t lost a parent but I have recently lost a best friend to “emotional conflict” for lack of a better term. Since then, the trust I have in my friend has dwindled to a microscopic spec on my frontal lobe. The confusing part (as you said) of it all is the desire to reconnect , yet simultaneously, having a natural instinct to stay away from potential danger. It’s something I’ve been working on for over a year now. But I don’t see it ending anytime soon. Thank you for being honest and truthful.

      1. Thank you for commenting! It’s definitely hard to explain conflicting emotions. Sometimes I feel like a walking contradiction. I’m sorry about your friend 😦 At least in my experience, writing unread letters helps.

      2. warninghugeass

        It was my pleasure reading your letter. 🙂 Funny thing is I have actually written her a letter. And at the time, it did help her realize what I went through and ended up in a short stint of a normal friendship. But soon enough my mind fought back and brought on the mistrust and bitterness. I couldn’t even bring myself to see her face to face again. Seeing how she moved on and I am still stuck in a daze. And now I am here lol.

      3. Sounds like you have a good idea of what I’m feeling–that strange left-behind-ness. When you’re dealing with someone who isn’t engaging your feelings, the fight gets stuck in your own mind. At least that’s how it is for me, and sounds like for you.

      4. warninghugeass

        You hit the nail on the head. The fight is always in my head. It seems I am the only participant and every one else’s opinion is lost in space. I hope both of us can find a way out. Or at least make the best of our circumstances. 🙂

  2. “You aren’t a bad person, but you were bad to me. And that should mean something.”

    I’d send him this… I think.

    (Also, I’m reblogging this on VBA because it’s just so damn good.)

      1. It’s great as it is! The real question ( to me anyway ) is why send it unless you are wanting to open lines of communication … I have no experience with abandonment but I can imagine wanting both no contact and re-contact at the same time!

      2. Yeah it’s definitely a mixed bag of emotions. I guess because I always thought I’d be open to it, my aversion to it is confusing. If he can come up with some reasons I can’t, then I could be convinced. I don’t want to close myself off to something that could be better for me, you know?

      3. Emily, that’s a really tough decision. Unfortunately you won’t know what the relationship might hold for you unless you step into it, so to speak. You might wind up stepping in s*h*t or it might be something unexpectedly wonderful.

      4. exactly! It’s a gamble, which is why I wanted to let him convince me. I figure if he comes up with solid reasons why this relationship is a good idea, then I should go for it. But I don’t want to lose out on something that could be great.

  3. Joel

    Emily Anne,
    Some of my favorite writing comes from people who are able to be absolutely honest about hard stuff without self pity. It isn’t as easy as it sounds to write like that, especially when the emotions are doing that roller coaster thing that emotions do. Good job.

  4. Such a sad, sad post. I wish I’d been a fly on the wall at the time of the separation because then maybe I could offer you words of comfort of real explanation. Of how your father had to go, not just because the relationship with your mother was bad but because the other woman was mentally ill and needing him. Whatever the reason. it’s rare for a fathers love for his child diminish which may be why he’s attempting to enter your life again. No doubt because your previous letters didn’t reach him he assumed you were hating him but at least OK.
    Perhaps you should have sent them via his parents who acted most strangely in this matter by giving up a grandchild.
    Anyway, you’ve suggested he doesn’t try to justify himself so presumably he won’t, but maybe he can put you in touch with your sisters and slowly as you build a new relationship with them it may be you create a new one with him. Maybe you won’t find a time you can call him Dad again but perhaps as you’re an adult you might try his first name or just father.
    Whatever happens, I sense this has opened up an old wound for you and maybe you’re not as detached emotionally as you think. Naturally you’re trying to protect yourself from further hurt. I hope things come right for you and there s an opportunity for full reconciliation so he’s there to walk you down the aisle one day.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I always expected myself to be very emotional if he confronted me, but I’m finding myself really really apathetic–and I don’t want to be. It’s really strange. I definitely agree that there is a best case scenario of this all turning out well, but I can’t see it playing out that way. Maybe I’m just stuck in my twelve year old self… We’ll see.
      In any case, your advice is well appreciated and heard! My purpose of blogging this was to see what people wiser and more experienced than I had to say about it. So, thank you for commenting.

      1. This is really touching and its awesome you’re so open.

        You say you’re apathetic but you don’t actually sound that apathetic. No one apathetic writes something of that quality.
        Maybe its your base feeling that needs filling, like when you look into yourself -and you know from the movies there should be a warm fuzzy feeling when you think of your dad- but there’s nothing there. That is different to your personal want to have a feeling there. Maybe now you wish there was something there.

        And that’s the decision in the end: You gain a relationship of a type you’re unlikely to find again, but you might be very hurt.

        I would say your instincts are telling you to be cautious and that’s probably wise. You can test the waters. Make sure he’s committed. Then meet him. If I was your father and read that letter I would be in tears, so maybe finish it on a hopeful note, basically saying we could try and see if we could get something going -but only if you’re willing to commit.

        But you have to ask yourself too, are you willing to spend some time and emotional baggage on this?

        just figured-you’re writing letters, so that’s already a hint 😉


  5. Pingback: The Email I DID Send to my Estranged Father: Yikes | unkilleddarlings

  6. Thanks! It’s definitely possible I’ve convinced myself I don’t feel anything when I actually do after all this time. Coping mechanisms… not always as helpful as they seem. I sent an email today which is a bit more forgiving… maybe. I’d be interested to get your take. I’m not sure where it’s all going. If anywhere.

  7. Pingback: The Very Inspirational Blogger Award: Very Appreciated | unkilleddarlings

  8. Hi Emily Anne, both these letters were a very powerful read for me. I understand those emotions and the confict. I do believe you are dealing very well with this, and looking out for yourself as you should.

  9. Pingback: Letter I CAN’T Send to My Lost Younger Sister: Too Real Life | unkilleddarlings

  10. This is perfectly what you need to tell him. You have a lot of living of your own to do. Someday, you may want to have children of your own. But first, in order to feel okay about men, generally, you need to lift this burden off of yourself. You need to be healthy, for lack of a better word here, before you can bond with your prospective mate, before you can think of having little ones too. This toxic poison needs to come out. And, if the conditions are such that you might be able to re-connect with your father, and sisters, this toxin-removal will enable you to enjoy that reunion and make the most of the time now, versus falling victim to bitterness and vitriol and spending time with them harvesting angry sentiments. You want to cherish the opportunity to be able to participate in their lives, as we know life can deal some unexpected turns, sometimes cutting short the dreams and tomorrows we have planned for ourselves. There is no time to waste Emily Anne. You must do this for yourself and no one else. It will matter much, much more as the years go by and you start to see how vital it is to have a family with all the amazing qualities each can bring to the table for us to find our place, to belong, to be loved and respected. Good luck. I have two girls, aged 23 & 25. I picked a real monster to be their father. He cut out on them at least half a lifetime ago for them. I had to take the high road and be both parents, sometimes having to take the punishment of their anger meant for Dad. But they knew as they grew older, that I did the best I could to be the mom and dad I could. We couldn’t be closer, thank God. They see him for what he is, and love and admire and respect me for what I am. It wasn’t easy, and perhaps it won’t all fade out, that resentment and disdain they may still have inside, but at least they are able to have a healthy attitude about themselves and the confidence in themselves to pursue what matters most to them without letting what he did strangle their spirit or joy for life. Sorry such long reply.

  11. Pingback: A letter I won’t send to my estranged father: Real Life | Here Kitty Kitty Kat

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  13. Bob Villarosa

    Emily, my name is Bob and have been missing my son for three long years already…I, as a father reading out your letter, a letter you arent sending your father struck right through………….I feel your heart as they beat…but words are too much to handle over the truth or how your heart describe it or let me say, you are at your peak , confused or almost convinced we have never thought about you or loved you as our own, I hope you know that as a father and in your fathers behalf when you came into this world mixed emotions whirled all over… We stood strong having aims and common goals. To always love you and never gonna hurt you and no one will ever walk out our way or wont pass over our graves if someone makes you cry…my wife left me and took my kid….while what happened to you was different but i hope you take a keen look on the other side of the coin and dont let anger consume you or may i say to disregard the pain…thinking it’ll make you look stonger because it wont..When our siblings are talked about.. no word could describe the longing and wanting them desperately at our sides.. it should have never been like this… But things happened beyond any man’s control… ANd this time we no longer became your superhero….For me there is nothing more painful reading out your letter, it depends though on how your father and I being estranged would take it….crying seemed so hard….. for you saying these words… we are but shamed over time we should been there for you and protect you and holding on to time keeping you asTHE princess of most regard, pulling back those year made three times because you need to grow faster than the other….. we never thought about leaving firsthand..Someone just have to leave over the vows made and forgotten love’s first love..for some reason your idea about us put to blame justified the person you heard it about or the devil inside every human…I know my son even before his first word and your father knows you better than you do….as you know your father even before you know what reasons are all about…Emily i hope you read this letter not having thoughts of who i am but see me as your father of all grief ……….but hope unbound for love to reveal…. for a father to her child and his offsprings love to his Father ….Its not that hard to take one step back Emily, giving your father his daughters sweetest hug…Time flew so fast and we are no longer getting back ,but only to take you with us inside our hearts and this pain will subside the fastest even if sorry arent asked or the question yelled why did we left is unknown…..only for you to know we never did….

  14. Hi Emily Anne, I would like to tell you that I linked this post of yours to my entry
    Sorry for the late notice but when you got pressed I did check on your blog and I was able to connect and somehow understand what you’re feeling. I even bookmarked this post of yours and re-read it a couple of times. Obviously, this daddy situation, I think make us a stronger person. I believe I have become. I did write a letter to my father but I never send it to him, I just posted it in my blog. It’s been six years now that he’s out of our lives but we had encountered him twice and he’s so different now. I don’t trust him anymore. We’ve endured so much when he walked out on us. I like how you wrote this letter and the other letter that you decided to send. I am happy you find courage. For me, my letter would not matter to my father if ever I decided to give it to him, he just won’t read and understand it, I knew it. But much of what I want to say to him, I’ve already told him a couple of years back. I was disappointed, he really didn’t understand what I said to him. He just want everything to be okay, like it didn’t happen. And it’s not that simple. Anyway, I am inspired by you. Thank you.


  15. Hi,
    I am actually in the midst of writing my own version of this letter, and I really want to thank you for sharing this. I Googled “letter to estranged father” to a) get some hints and b) try to find someone else out there in my situation. Mine is a bit different to yours (though whose lives are exactly the same even it it does sound so on paper?). My parents divorced when I was 3. He disappeared with no attempt at custody until I was 12 and we had 3 awkward meetings and court ordered letters till I was 16.

    He’s being trying to contact me since I was 18 (when he turned up at my school) and most recently 2 days ago on my 29th birthday when he sent an album of baby photos (that don’t go past me aged 3). I’ve been too cowardly to write to him and just say that I no longer harbour any resentment or bad feelings but I don’t know him and I can’t imagine what a relationship built on nothing would be like. I’ve been very lucky; I have a wonderful mother and step father and don’t feel like anything was missing, but if it was then there’s nothing that can be done about it now.

    Anyway your letter very articulately said a lot of what I was feeling and has really helped me muster the courage to send the letter that should have been sent years ago. I wish you the best of luck with whatever decision you make.

  16. Olivia

    I found this letter upon the afterthought of a google search and I can say I’m quite glad I did.
    I have experienced quite a similar situation, as my father walked out of my life when I was 11, just a year younger than yourself. All the emotions and things you’ve described here, I’ve felt as well and have wanted to compile into a letter like this for a long time.
    I’m almost an adult myself now & have learned to deal with a lot of the issues this sort of situation brings, but I still have lots of feelings that come up because I never worked through them as a child. However, this gives me a bit of hope that I will one day get the closure I know deep down I deserve. Know that your time was not wasted by posting this, even if I’m the only one it touched on such a deep level.

  17. Allison

    my story is a little different, my mother left her husband moved to another state and got a boyfriend, well after a while of separation she decided to give it another try with her husband. after she left her boyfriend and got back with her husband she found out she was pregnant, after some discussion they decided that it would be best for everyone if they just told me that her husband was my father. when I was 2 years old my parents divorced but by that point I knew him as father and so nobody told me. years later my mother remarried and I got a knew dad and a little sister, they years passed. growing up I always thought I was different from the rest of my family. when I was 16 my mother introduced me to a family friend and her daughter megan, megan was 2 years younger than me and we became fast friends, about 6 months later megans dad died. I remember the day my mother told me, we were walking down the hall and she said that he had passed away due to health issues, I also remember my reaction “why should I care, I never met him”. a year after that I found out exactly why I should have cared. one day I came home from work and my mother pulled my aside and told me that megan was my half sister and her father was my father. in one day I found out that the reason I was so different was because the person I grew up calling dad was not my biological father and that my biological father was died. it has been 4 years since I found out and I still wonder what life would have been like if I had known him. I don’t know if it is possible to miss something that you never had, but I think about him all the time. I know why my parents didn’t tell my but I still cant help but be angry, everybody knew he was dying and yet they decided to wait until after he was dead to tell me. it also turns out that megan had known about me her entire life. its been 4 years and I still don’t know how I feel about the whole thing, sometimes i’m angry for all the lies, sometimes I mourn the loss of the man I will never know and who never go to know me and sometimes I just want it all to go away, to forget the whole thing and pretend it didn’t happen. Emily at least you have a chance to know him, I will never know

  18. Justine Johnson

    My Dad and I have had problems in our relationship for the past 3 years and I haven’t spoken to him in a year now. I’m trying to convince myself I don’t need or want him in my life and I wonder if I will ever have a relationship with him again. I miss my siblings more than ever but can’t put them through the pain anymore either. Your story really hits home.

  19. Niesha

    I can completely identify with this. I actually ran across your blog while doing a google search of how to reach out to an estranged father. I’m 27 and I haven’t had an actual relationship with my father in my entire life. I used to call him Santa Clause because I would only see him on Christmas. Now I’m engaged and I guess I want to mend the severed relationship and I can’t find nice enough words to even begin with. I think it pisses me off that we lived in the same city and still he did nothing unlike you I knew my other siblings thanks to my mom for keeping those relationships a priority.

  20. Kyla

    Hey Emily, my parents also split when I was young and both remarried when I was young too so I had two awesome families that I loved to bits. My story is actually quite similar to yours, with a few dramatic twists added in but the just of it all is that two years ago my dad, who I adored to bits, who made me laugh like crazy, stopped talking to me and everyone else in my family. I have no idea where he is and I send him an email every now and then saying “hey” getting nothing more than a “thanks” in return. I really loved reading your email that you wanted to send to your dad. What struck me most is that eventually, I’m not there yet, it gets easier and life changes from living without him to just living. It hurts me to come to the realistaion that I’ll never be able to have that same relationship I had with him and it’s both comforting and saddening that I might get to the point, a couple of years from now, where I will be completely indifferent when I think of him.

    I can never truly talk about how I feel with my family or friends because they just don’t understand so it was truly wonderful being able to read a post by someone who knows what it is like.

    Thank you for, I guess, hope.


  21. Candice

    Emily, you are a girl after my own heart!!! I actually found this blog because I was trying to find tips on how to write to an estranged father. Your letter was heartfelt, raw and just amazing! My own father has been in and out of my life for the better part of 13 years because he is a Jehovahs Witness, and I decided that it just wasn’t for me. He is so entrenched in the religion, that he can’t see anything past that. I can’t talk to him as a daughter because all he cares about is the fact that I am no longer a part of the religion he chose to raise me in. In March of this year, I got married. My father told me that he would be there, and then decided to decline coming, by text. He told me that because of his religion, he could not come, but when I tried calling him on the phone, he would not talk to me. My husband tried contacting him twice to see if he would change his mind about coming to the wedding, and my father decided to send him scriptures from the Bible and told him not to contact him anymore. It has now been one entire year and 3 months since I have even heard from him. I don’t know WHAT is wrong with my family! Nobody seems to have the balls to tell him that what he did was flat out wrong. Instead, I’m handed bull like “Well, we love you both and don’t want to take sides. Maybe you should call him.” My cousin recently gave me the idea to write him, so I may end up doing that just to get this undeserved weight off of my spirit. I left the religion to get away from his control, left town to get away from his control, joined the military to live my own life, and now when I go back home to see family, I’m STILL under his control because I do everything in my power to keep from seeing him. So needless to say, I love your letter and I think you’re awesome Emily:))))

  22. Ruza

    The following lines resonated with me, thank you Emily:

    ” I’m trying to make my own life, separate from
    the problems imposed on me by a failed

    “As harsh as it is,you don’t mean enough to me anymore.”

    My estranged father reemerged last year 2014 -January. We spoke telephonically & scheduled to meet in November/December …the week of our scheduled meeting he informed my mom he was hospitalised. I found out this week he had lied & wanted nothing to do with us.

    I was filled with so much contempt for him…and I stumbled across your letter… and the lines qouted above just …bring me peace. So thanks.


  23. Nathania

    That is an awesome email. My father walked out on my mother when she was pregnant. He was already married with kids.
    It’s taken till now at 37 for me to send him a card with a couple of photos. I sent it today. I have absolutely no expectations he’ll get in contact but it was something I felt I needed to do.

    I wish I had been as eloquent as you have been in your above proposed email. I will look for your next posting and wish you peace with whatever you email to your father

  24. Pingback: A long time later (3 years), on a computer far, far away | unkilleddarlings

  25. SR

    “You aren’t a bad person, but you were bad to me. And that should mean something.” thank you. this helped me cry tears that needed to be cried..

  26. Jamie

    Well… I am the male version of you!

    My dad is currently back in my life but I never know how long for…. I’m married now, I have daughters of my own and… At 37 I still feel the same mix of apathy and fear and jubilation. There is a 5 year old in me that just wants my dad… I know I’ll never have him truly but I want it… And I don’t want it… It’s hard.

    Tonight he has just left. We shared a meal and wine! And for the first time I was honest. It’s taken 37 years.

    I told him how inadequate he has made me feel. That it’s hard listening to him put down my step siblings (there are multiple from multiple relationship… Spot a pattern!!) farthers and tonight… I tolled him he was as bad as them. And it was liberating and sad and traumatic and I feel guilty and… The child in me wanted to cry… And I tell myself to man up I’m 37…

    Then my daughter called me, she had a night terror and I comforted her and she told me she loved me and… I sobbed! I’ll never have that bond…

    So do I continue, do I build or do I take solis in the fact I’m 37… I’ve done well… I have a good job … An amazing wife and the most precious daughters any man could want. Il be there dad… Forever… Or… Do I try, again,….

    My wife has her patients still married. They are very much part of our life and I love it and hate it at the same time. I want that! But I know I will never have it…. And again I tell myself I’m 37… Grow up!

    I don’t think any estranged parent wants their kids to feel this but there must be many of us that do.

    Thank you for your letter. It made me realise I’m not alone… I feel this too… And you know what… We ARE ok!

    I wish you well and I hope he gave the sister that kiss…

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