cartoon cow writing at a desk

Dear Dad 1999 (2.4.18)

Well, well, well. As I search for one specific file to send to my parents today, I keep running into other thoughts, letters, and journal entries. Life is simple. Life is complicated.

November 22, 1999

Dear Dad,

Thank you very much for taking me to Stuart Circle Hospital for the MRI concerning my pituitary tumor. Thank you also for lunch and for acting as the courier to shuttle the x-rays back and forth where they needed to be.

At some point during the morning, I asked you a question and you said, “I’m here to help you in any way that I can and to do whatever you need me to do.” Those words meant a lot to me Dad, and I will never forget them, because you were putting my needs before yours which meant everything to me at a very, very, deep level inside my soul.

I met with my counselor, Maria, the week following the MRI and shared the above experience with her and she was very happy for me. Maria was sexually abused as a child; therefore she really empathizes with my journey and me. She said that my story and experience “moves her” and when she said this it brought tears to her eyes. She said that she has learned a lot from my experience and me.

I asked her if she knew of any other stories similar to ours and she said, “No.” She has met and worked with a lot of women who were sexually abused as children, however she has never heard of a story like ours where we are re-creating our relationship. She said that this is a true act of unconditional love. She said that she has known women who have tried to work with their perpetrators to create new, healthy relationships, however the women did not have the strength and courage to work through the issues.

Hearing this information made me feel very proud of myself and very special. I am also very proud of you, Mom, and Doug. I’ve always known that we were all very special people; and, at this time I know that our story is unique compared to the norm of sexual abuse experiences that are discussed in public through the mass media as well as information that I have heard from several different counselors.

I think that it is very good that we have created our own version of how to walk through this difficult healing process and I want to thank you for having the courage, willingness, and love to work with me through the past 15 difficult years. I also feel eternally grateful to my counselors at VIPCare who have worked with me and respected the choices that I have made to bring about healing in myself.

I have felt very sad and suicidal this past year, which was very frightening to me, however, I have chosen to live and want to enjoy the remainder of my life here on earth. I would have committed suicide years ago if I had not received so many positive acts of love and support from you and Mom throughout my lifetime. As a child, teenager, and young woman, I experienced intense love and pain with you. As an adult, I want to experience a happy medium of emotions with you, which is what I have been working at creating with you this past year.

Following are some of the positive things that you have done with me or for me which will always mean a lot to me:

You supported me at all the important and significant events in my life: recitals, games, parades, pageants, honors ceremonies, graduations, celebrations, birthdays, wedding, etc.

Made me the best, safest, sturdiest loft in the world the first year they allowed them at Mary Washington College.

Drove me to school almost every morning my senior year of high school.

Escorted me during the Homecoming game when I was a Senior Class Princess.

Listened to me talk whenever I needed to talk and never telling me to shut up.

Taught me to care for other people when they need help.

Answered any questions that I asked, especially when I was a young child. I remember always asking you, “Why is such and such happening?” during the movies and you always answered my questions and did not tell me to leave you alone so that you could watch the movie.

Being down-to-earth and your best self whenever we went camping.

Let me hang onto you as a life preserver when you, Doug, and I played out in the water in the Chesapeake Bay when we were camping.

Taught me mechanical and technical skills even though I was a girl.

Encouraged me to go to college and helped pay for part of it.

Allowed me to major in whatever topic I wanted in college instead of pressuring me to study something that would guarantee me a job.

Never limited me on what stuff and plants I wanted to bring home during Christmas break from college for 4 years even though we filled up the entire car and your utility trailer each trip.

Helped me develop my sense of humor.

Supported me emotionally and financially during my wedding after you and I had a big fight concerning the budget.

Delivered Mom’s specially made dinners to me at Jackson Davis Elementary school when I worked there during the night at the gym. [At that time I was working 2 jobs 60+ hours per week to make ends meet living on my own with a roommate sharing an apartment.]

Taught me to not to be a racist, especially with black people, in spite of the fact that your nuclear family seems extremely prejudiced.

Helped me move to college, my apartment, and my current home, and always protected and secured my personal belongings during the moves.

Helping me and working with me as an Assistant Activities Director at St. Mary’s Woods.

Moving and setting up my bedroom furniture in our new house while Nathan and I were away on our honeymoon.

You and Mom giving me the ’74 Camaro as a graduation gift from college [in 1985] and always making sure that it was running okay.

Supporting Mom to let me to take ballet, tap, Girl Scouts, piano lessons, cotillion, charm school, be a flag girl, majorettes, and any other activities mom got me into to help develop myself as a person.

Being a supportive Youth Group Leader at church with Mom.

Allowing Mom to buy our Cairn Terriers Buffy and later Sheba.

There are many more examples of the positive things that you have done for me throughout my lifetime. Most importantly, you supported me going to counseling, helped pay for part of my counseling, and attended the counseling sessions with me to help me work through some very difficult places.

I love you very much Dad. I am sorry that I had to experience the sexual abuse with you at all. What you did to me was very, very wrong and was totally your responsibility. I know that you are a good person and I feel grateful that I had the positive experiences to help outweigh the negative one.

I forgive you for sexually abusing me and I hope to continue to recreate our relationship together as a father and a daughter. I need you in my life to love and respect me as I am today which is what I have been feeling with you in the past several months.

I cannot guarantee you that there will not be more rough waters ahead of us, but I hope that you will continue to show me the love and support that you have in the past several years.

Thanks for being my Daddy and Happy Thanksgiving.