Dear Dad, I Was Always Worth It

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Dear Dad,

As June approaches every year, I think about you. I wonder if you think about me. I have come to the conclusion that you don’t miss me—at least not enough to do anything about it. It’s still painful after 18 years of not seeing you or hearing your voice. In some seasons, I try not to think about it and tell myself I’m okay and even better off without the hurt, the confusion, the unrequited chase. And then I have seasons where it all comes bubbling to the surface, unable to be tamed any longer. I am learning to allow myself to feel it and that it doesn’t mean I’m weak or broken.

For many years, I felt something was wrong with me. I chased after you like I chased after the older boys when I was young—believing that if I could just be enough or do enough, you would want me. And let me tell you, that’s a sad, exhausting way to feel all the time. Counselor after counselor assured me a child shouldn’t have to pursue their parent. But I also thought it was my job to love you, Dad, and show you the right way. So I tried, and I tried, and I tried, but I always seemed to come up short. No amount of calling, trying harder, being the good girl, earning the right grades, or getting a full academic scholarship was ever enough.

In my early adult life, I longed for answers, for an explanation. But no explanation would have ever sufficed for why you pushed me away. I knew it wasn’t me who was broken, but deep down, especially in moments of vulnerability, I still believed it was something I could fix or do better at. Today, at 40 years old and over 18 years of not hearing from you, I know better. After hours upon hours and thousands of dollars of therapy, I finally believe it’s not about me, but you know what? It still hurts, and I still have days where I completely fall apart.

As the years pass by and we both get older, I have thought many times about writing you a letter and trying one more time, but I’ve come to the painful conclusion that I can’t let myself do that. I won’t chase anymore. Therapists and friends asked me what I’d want to say to you, and I was never sure, but I know now.

I’d tell you, Dad, that I’m worth knowing and was always worth it. The four-year-old little girl you walked out on and told, “Daddy always knows best,” who thought you hung the moon—she was worth knowing, really knowing. The eight-year-old who you tried to turn against her mom and didn’t pay child support for—she was worth it. The teenage girl who longed for you to see her and tell her she was beautiful, even just once, while she was out chasing all the wrong boys, looking for love in all the wrong places—she was worth it. The 20-year-old college student who asked if you could meet after she’d just had her heart broken for the first time in a relationship, but you “didn’t feel up to it”—she was worth it. The 22-year-old who met you for dinner to share that she was engaged and told you she wanted to truly know you and asked if you could have daddy-daughter dates, but you said you’d have to check with your wife first—she was worth it. And the 40-year-old woman, wife, mom of three amazing children, man, she’s worth it. She’s worth it because she’s kind, loving, generous, capable, and strong, and most of all, she’s simply worth it because she is your daughter, forever a part of you.

But she knows she can’t change your mind; God knows she tried. She’s done trying to convince you, done spinning her wheels. She finally knows deep in her soul that she was always worth it. And that it’s truly your loss.

So, Dad, as the 19th Father’s Day without you in my life approaches, along with your 76th birthday, I’m letting you know you messed up and missed out. I’m doing great. I still love you, and I still miss you. And I hope one day, before it’s too late, you’ll realize I’m worth it, too.


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