Today is Father’s Day. For some, this is a day of joy and celebration.
For one man, today is a chilling nightmare.
I receive many emails on a daily basis, and people reveal things to me that are highly personal. This story made me cry, and after much soul searching, I have decided to print the story and redact the names.
I know that Father’s Day is supposed to be a happy day, but there are so many people that feel so much pain that I decided to acknowledge the forgotten at the risk of depressing the rest.
This letter has not been edited for length, although I corrected some of the spelling mistakes, and most likely added a few of my own.
With that, I am printing this chilling Father’s Day nightmare tale.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be just like you. You were my hero, and your approval meant everything to me.
Now I am an adult, and it pains me that every day you are alive, you are more hurtful than the day before.
I want you to know that while you may find my words hurtful, this is not about you. This is about my own peace of mind.
Once you are gone, I will not speak ill of you. To do so without your ability to defend yourself would be dishonorable. Therefore, as you live, I want you to know how much pain you cause me. I do not expect you to care, but again, this is not about what you want or need. It is certainly not about what you feel, because I suspect that you stopped feeling any human emotions a long time ago.
Also, this is not based on any one incident. It is about a lifetime of abuse that you have directed toward me for reasons that only you can justify.
In simple terms dad, as we have both gotten older, you have turned into a monster. You lash out and try to crush anybody that dares to disagree with you for any reason. You rule with an iron fist, and this death grip needs to be broken. Speaking of death, your death will probably not give me peace of mind. You will most likely haunt me forever.
So many people think you are a good man because they do not know you. They do not know about the lifetime of torment.
They have no idea that you gave me a savage beating when I was in sixth grade that I will never forget.
You gave me my fair share of beatings as a child, but this one was the most hurtful due to the circumstances.
I was playing basketball on the school playground in a game of one on one during recess. Attempting to drive to the basket, I tripped over the other guy, fell, and cracked my two front teeth. I freaked out, and was terrified. What people did not understand was that I was not getting hysterical over my teeth. Yes, I was in pain, but I knew the worst was to come. I knew you were going to blame me, and get angry.
Imagine what it must be like for a child to be scared to death of his own father’s rage. When I got home, and you saw my teeth, you started accusing me of ‘horsing around.’ You came to the conclusion that there was no way this could have happened without horseplay. You never suffered fools gladly, and were not going to tolerate stupid behavior.
When I protested that there was no horseplay, and that this really was an unfortunate accident, you chased me into the basement, and beat me with a plastic pipe until I admitted that I was to blame for this accident through my own recklessness.
I never understand why you didn’t believe me. I knew I was telling the truth. I honestly did not understand why you were beating me. This was not discipline. This was misplaced rage.
I was always an honest person. I still am. Yet when I look back at the worst beating I ever got in my life, it still makes no sense to me. You finally got me to admit that I was horsing around, but only because I wanted the beating to stop. I know in my heart that what happened was an unfortunate accident, with nobody deserving blame, not even the other kid.
When I got too old to beat, you then resorted to an even more painful way of imposing your will at any and all costs. You purposely withheld your love.
You knew how much your approval mattered to me. You did the one thing no parent should ever do. You made your love conditional. You would give me the ‘silent treatment.’ Do you know what it is like to go to school and try to study knowing that your own father wants to punish you in such a hateful manner?
Things got worse as I got older. A couple weeks before I left for college, you started screaming at me to clean my room. You were out of control. I feared for my life, and called the police. Is it possible that I overreacted? Sure. Yet you never understood why I did that. I was scared to death that you were going to do something violent. My reaction may have seemed unreasonable to you, but my fear was completely reasonable. Your goal was to have your children be scared to death of you. You succeeded.
I moved 3000 miles away for college to escape your clutches.
When I was on my own, I lived the same clean lifestyle I did at home. I did not smoke, drink, or do drugs. I hung out with the right people. Yet nothing I did was ever good enough. It got to the point where I went to visit my grandparents on Spring Break, just so I would not have to come home. You inquired as to whether I was avoiding you. News flash: Of course I was.
Yet there was no avoiding what happened the day of my college graduation. You never did understand that events such as these are not about you. They are about me. During the luncheon before the ceremony you noticed that you did not like my suit. It was too long, and the tip of it scraped the floor. I never was a snappy dresser.
I sat at the luncheon in fear, knowing that you were going to explode. I kept quiet, praying that you would just let it go. Instead, you stormed off, sat in your car, and boycotted my graduation ceremony.
You have no idea what it was like to try and smile and accept my diploma knowing that my own father was boycotting my graduation.
Nobody noticed the bottom of my suit. It was covered by the big black gown, as I knew it would be.
The guy giving the commencement speech wore jeans. His mother did not care. She loved him for who he was. This was not disrespectful, because again, the jeans were covered by the robe.
You told me on what should have been the greatest day of my life until then that I was an embarrassment. You said it over and over, that I was an embarrassment.
This is who you are dad. We did not talk for four years. That was your choice. Either I was going to apologize to you, or I was not your son. You ruined my graduation over your own selfishness, and somehow I was at fault. You were selfish then, and you still are.
Mom tried to get us to make peace, but she was never willing to stand up to you. She was an enabler, which only made you more abusive. When my sibling and I were kids, you made it clear that you did not care who was at fault for any actions. You just yelled at us both because peace and quiet was more important. You pitted my sibling and me against each other because we both wanted your approval. To this day my sibling and I hate each others’ guts, and you continue to play the puppet master.
Mom also prefers ‘peace’ in the home to actually dealing with problems. She believes that ‘the son always apologizes to the father.’ She tells me that you are old, and in ill health, and that I should be more understanding of how much pain you are in.
At no time are you ever asked to understand my pain. I am told that kids have it so easy today, that your generation went through things unimaginable, and that I never knew hardship. This does not mean that any pain I feel is less than valid, and it certainly should not give you license to keep attacking me.
I still remember getting beaten up once on the playground. Then I got home, and got beaten again, for losing the fight. Dad, why didn’t you just teach me how to box? It was only when I got older and took karate that I finally developed self-confidence. I got into fistfights in college, which probably never would have happened had I not gotten beaten so badly as a kid. I was never scared of being thrown out of college for fighting. I probably should have been. I was more scared of losing, and having you find out I lost.
As I got older, you attacked every important decision I ever made. You and mom had safe, salaried jobs. I took a commission job, and you fought me every step of the way. Yes, my income was unsteady. Yes, I sometimes worried about money. Yet had I listened to you, I would have taken a menial salaried job and been miserable. When I told you that, you asked the question that still perplexes me.
‘Who the hell says you’re entitled to be happy?’
Dad, just because your life is miserable does not mean I cannot pursue a happy life. I was not backpacking throughout Europe trying to ‘find myself.’ I was working my behind off in a ruthless profession. My close friend was an actor, and his parents supported him every step of the way when he was waiting tables. Another friend bounced around from job to job, and then finally found a job he loved, that he excels at. His parents supported him.
When I say supportive, I am not speaking financially. I am speaking emotionally.
You do not know how many times I went to bed screaming at the mirror pretending it was you, asking myself ‘Why can’t you just be supportive?’
This is the crux of the problem dad. You don’t know how to just shut up and be supportive. You do not allow me to have a difference of opinion from you without you treating it as an act of war. Disagreeing with you is not the same as being disrespectful.
I needed a father, not another obstacle. I cannot fight the world and my own dad. Mom kept saying that you ‘were not the enemy,’ but what else does a guy call it when the guy that brought him into this world spends every waking minute trying to undermine his confidence in his own skill set?
The irony is that you kept saying that you wanted me to be happy. No, that is a lie. You wanted me to be what your definition of happiness was. It was always about you. Your life did not amount to what you wanted, and you are filled with regrets. The only regret I have is that my father will simply not shut up and be happy for me. By defying you, I became a successful professional that surpassed anything you ever achieved. Outside of my family, I am happy.
Needless to say, between the beatings in junior high school and the post-beating abuse at home, I was not going to succeed with women. My confidence was shot. When your own father reminds you repeatedly how ashamed he is, and what a loser his son is, confidence is not sky high. Yet when I moved 3000 miles away, I finally developed some confidence.
You like to brag to your friends that when I went away I became human. I was always human, and a pretty good person at that. I have had the same friends my whole life, and most people like me. So many people tell me how proud my parents must be of me. It makes me want to cry knowing how ashamed they are. Can everybody else be wrong? Of course not.
In 2005, I met a lovely woman. My Aunt met her, and liked her a lot. Sure, we had problems, but make no mistake about it. The worst fights we had were about you. It started the day you told me that you would refuse to meet her, and never accept the relationship.
She was over 40, and you were concerned that she would not be able to have children. You wanted grandchildren, and were going to get them at any and all costs.
She was a sweet, kind woman with a heart of gold, and you absolutely destroyed her. Maybe she was too fragile, but she never understood why you would not even meet her. She even sent you an email saying how much she cared about me, and you did not give an inch.
I asked you again on the telephone, “why can’t you just be happy for me?”
You coldly responded, “How can I?”
How can you? Because that is what a decent human being would do.
You derisively referred to her as ‘grandma.’ Once you referred to her as ‘Mary Kay Letourneau.’ She was not a child rapist. She was a woman in her early 40s dating a guy in his early 30s.
When I pointed out to you that we could always adopt, you icily made it clear that ‘that is not the same thing.’ I asked if you if you could love an adopted child. You responded, ‘I can’t promise that. I don’t know if I could.’
She broke off the relationship because she knew what most people know. When you marry someone, you marry their family. She did not want a father-in-law that was a complete monster.
Meeting somebody is pressure-packed enough without having to face the contempt of the father. One nice girl left you unimpressed. You asked how old she was. I replied that she was 30, and you coldly responded, ‘she looked it.’ What the heck was that supposed to mean? You never had anything positive to say about any of them because you never have anything positive to say about anything.
I truly believe that if somebody put a gun to your head and asked you to say something positive, you would opt for the bullet.
I have different interests from you, and you simply cannot live and let live. You attack me for having leisure time hobbies that bore you, and you attack me for not sharing your leisure time activities. There is nothing wrong with me. I simply have different interests.
As the years went by, I did try to meet somebody. I did internet dating. You repeatedly attacked it, despite not growing up in the internet generation. When I would meet somebody, you would tell me everything you thought was wrong with them without meeting them. When we would break up, you would say that you were right all along. This got to be sadistic.
I truly believe to this day that the only thing that matters to you is being seen as right. You never think about who you hurt. You don’t care.
I once wrote you an agonizing letter over my fear of being alone. The truth is that fear was not of being alone, but that I would be alone and have to hear about it from you every day.
On December 26th, 2007, I called you up just to say hello. I was in a good mood. You were having one of your many ‘bad days.’
You told me that I ‘was doing nothing with my life. I was wasting my life away.’
I was taken aback by this unprovoked attack, even from you. You then went on to scream at me for being single. I was not doing anything in your eyes to pursue having a family. To make things even more bizarre, you told me a couple weeks earlier that you felt I would make a good father. I never understood why you said it. Yet only two weeks later, because I was single, I was supposedly wasting time.
With a sky high divorce rate, I simply wanted to get it right. Other issues involving friends with unhealthy children were concerning me. You didn’t care. Everything is about what you want all the time.
You just keep pushing and pushing until I want to beat you to death just to shut you up. Then when I get a girlfriend you list the reasons why it will fail.
I still cannot fathom why you would scream at me just for not having a family.
I tried to get you to give me a bread crumb of paternal affection. I pointed out that on the one hand you want me to be a father, yet your stories of fatherhood were always stories of hardship. I asked you to tell me about some of the joys of fatherhood. I asked you to describe the joy you felt when you brought me home from the hospital the first time. I was begging you to give me one aspect of fatherhood that was joyful.
You wouldn’t do it. You said that, ‘Life isn’t about being joyful. It’s about fulfilling obligations and responsibilities. We don’t do things because they are fun. We do them because they are what we are supposed to do.’
You then again reminded me that ‘nobody is entitled to be happy.’
Mom keeps saying that you are just from a different time and generation. This is an excuse.
Happiness is not some new age, 21st century feel-good concept. Human beings should pursue happiness, provided they do so responsibly. People can have both. I did in my career, and have that in my current relationship.
You consider being supportive as ‘coddling.’
You just can’t stop the negativity. You can’t stop the bitterness. People say that you are too old to change.
Those are excuses. You see no reason to change because nobody ever holds you accountable for your actions.
That is why I wrote this long letter. I am holding you accountable.
I have already warned my girlfriend about you. She seems very emotionally strong, and will not break no matter how hard you try.
Her family is wonderful. They are so warm, loving, and accepting, that it made me cry after I got done meeting them. Then again, I feel that way about the families of all of my friends. Many of those families have taken me in.
Yes, I have an outside view, but my friends who know me know that the way you treat me is far from anything they can understand, and their parents are the same as age as you.
It is not your generation dad. It is not your health. It is not your hardscrabble upbringing.
It is you.
You are a bully. The only thing that stops a bully is when you deck him in the face and make him bleed.
I have no intention of using physical violence. Laws prevent that. Yet I will psychologically break you in half because you deserve every ounce of pain that comes your way.
Mom will say that this will not make me feel better, but she is too busy enabling you to see the truth.
What are you going to do, cut me off financially? I don’t care. It’s not my money.
What are you going to do, cut me off emotionally? You already do that. You did it again in 2009 when I ‘defied your orders.’ I defied your orders because your orders were wrong.
You will never accept me for who I am. You once threatened never to speak to me again if I grew facial hair on my cheeks. You felt that a scraggly beard was slovenly. No girl would like me, no employer would hire me, and I would convey a lack of personal pride by having a scraggly goatee.
I was willing to trim it on the few days I visited you, but how I wear my hair on a daily basis 3000 miles away from you is none of your d@mn business. This is an example of you imposing your iron will and values on me. If you want to be ‘ashamed of me’ for how I wear my hair, then I have every right to let the world that I am ashamed of you for the way you treat me.
The final straw was when you told me that my grandfather would be ashamed of me if he were alive today. You know more than anybody how much he meant to me, and that was probably the most despicable thing you have ever said. For you, that is an accomplishment. As for my grandfather, he loved me unconditionally. If he were alive today, he would be ashamed of how you treat me. Even when he got angry, he never withheld his love, not one time. He was a hardened man, but he had love. You may have had that at one point, but that was long ago before anger took over your entire body and soul.
The bottom line is that you are nothing but a bully. I am going public because I am no longer afraid of you. I am going to hit back, and hit back hard, every day of your miserable, rotten life.
I am going to let the world know how you terrorized me.
As I said, you have nothing I want, not your pocket change or your fairweather affection that dissipates every time you don’t get your way.
Mom cries herself to sleep because she wants us to make peace. Again, she wants me to apologize solely because you are the dad.
That does not cut it anymore. As you get older, you will get worse and worse. As your health deteriorates, you will get more and more abusive.
I will not subject you to my future wife and children. You will never meet her. As for the wedding, you most likely would have tried to boycott it anyway unless every detail was to your satisfaction. I am not going to have you make a scene at my wedding like you did at my graduation. You will have no say about my suit or my hair.
More importantly, as for those grandchildren you badly wanted…you will never meet them. I simply cannot and will not let you near anybody I love. You are too angry, too bitter, and too hard on too many good people. They do not deserve to be subjected to you. Nobody does.
My children will not be scared to death from age 13 that drinking a can of soda will give them diabetes, or that eating a hamburger will give them a heart attack.
At some point, a parent has to let go and let the person he brought into this world lead their own life.
You have given me two options. Either I do everything you say all the time, or you simply cut me out of your life. A third option of simply being supportive would never occur to you.
You could try suing me for saying all of this, but truth is an absolute defense.
Despite your vicious nature, I have more compassion than you will ever know. I am giving you one last opportunity to be my father. It is going to involve you saying something that might make you choke. If you do, I can live with that. It will reflect your character.
An apology would kill you, so I am going to go much easier on you than you would ever deserve.
I want you to say the following phrase to me, and you have to mean it:
‘Son, maybe I have been too hard on you.’
I doubt you are even capable or willing to consider this. Unlike you, I am capable of admitting when I am wrong.
Either I hear those words from you, or I will emotionally bury you under an avalanche of your own bile.
I may be an S.O.B, but I am nowhere in your league. I am a far better human being than you will ever be.
It’s payback time dad. The bullying is going to stop now. I will take back the one thing that every human being has a right to possess. I am taking back my dignity.
If the bullying does not stop, upon your death, I will kick your coffin in front of everyone you know. They will be horrified, but they will know why I did it. You have kicked me every day of my life.
I would say more, but I have to go call the fathers of my friends and wish them a Happy Father’s Day. They are like the fathers I never had.”
I still have the shakes from those words. I think of my own father, and I realize that no matter how tough I have it, others have it tougher. As I said, it was not my intention to post this letter. Yet it was too compelling for me to ignore. I verified it for accuracy as best as I could, and find it to be authentic.
I just pray to God that it never applies to me or my family or the family of anybody I care about.
For those with better fathers, hug them immediately and be thankful.
To those men, Happy Father’s Day.