An Imaginary Conversation with My Father

There are things I know now that I didn’t know back when I was 15, when my father demanded that I justify my existence.

For cleansing or healing or maybe just to get it out of my system, I imagined What If? What if I knew back then what I know now? What would I have said to my father as he towered over me at the foot of the stairs?

“Hey! I’m 15. I’m not the one who should be answering your life questions for you. I’m sorry you don’t have a reason for your existence. I’m sorry your brother was born with brain damage and you didn’t get the nurturing you deserved. I’m sorry you had to grow up too fast. But that doesn’t give you the right to take it out on me.

“I’m your kid, your daughter. It’s not my fault you never wanted to be a father. You are one. Your job is to help me grow up, not to make me feel shitty about myself.

“Despite all this, I like you. You don’t show up here often but when you do, even though I’m nervous you might be frighteningly drunk, I want to be with you. You’re smart. You make me think. You teach me things, like how circuits work. I like going to the hardware store with you, which we’ve hardly ever done, or holding the mirror so you can fix the TV, except it usually ends with you yelling at me and telling me to go away.

“I can’t let you treat me like this anymore. If you’re not going to be nice to me, I can’t be near you. You told me once you knew exactly what to say to every person to bring them to their knees. Is that something to be proud of? And is that how you want to treat your daughter? Or your son?

“He’s the smart one. He left already. I’m not ready to leave until I go to college, but I’m leaving you.”


We are all daughters and sons of daughters and sons. We are all victims of victims.


I love you.

I’m sorry.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

Chewing the Cud of Good

Purple-pink thistle blossoms in a green field

Thankful for road trips!



2 thoughts on “An Imaginary Conversation with My Father”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. My own mother was/is mentally ill and my father, possibly for no other reason than being a male raised in a certain era, is emotionally unavailable. It is surprising to me how much I continue to want to be parented, and my struggle is to find that love and nurturing within myself, for myself and for my daughters. I appreciate you sharing your story. It helps.

    1. Oh, Sherry, isn’t it strange? Those years were decades ago and yet, I’m in the same boat: “… surprising to me how much I continue to want to be parented, and my struggle is to find that love and nurturing within myself…” I guess it’s more of a cycle than a circle. Thank you for saying it helps, because that helps me (as does writing about it).

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