A daughter's letter to her recovering dad.
I know things haven’t gone well for you for a long time now. I know that we haven’t had it easy as a family and that the stresses and struggles of trying to deal with it all and still be a father to us made you drink the way you did for so many years.
I want you to know that I’m proud of you.
Since I was a little girl I’ve always hoped for the day that you’d find enough peace within yourself and courage to make a change. I remember when you had your heart attack five years ago and the doctors said they didn’t think you’d be around for much longer.
After your second heart attack last year I hoped that that was enough for you to want to get better and look after yourself. I understand why you didn’t and that drinking probably seemed like the only way you could cope your life.
I know that it took hitting rock bottom for you to make this change. I’m sorry that it had to get to that point but in a way I’m glad, because being right at the very bottom of your life gave you a different perspective.
When I see you now I see the real you. Your eyes are brighter. Your face is younger. Your words are words that I’d never thought I’d be able to hear from you as a stronger father.
I know you still have a long way to go, but I’m proud of you for how far you’ve come in such a short amount of time. Imagine how much you’ll accomplish if you make it last.
I want you to know how inspired I am.
I’ve had my own faults too. I know what it’s like to need to escape from our problems sometimes and make bad choices. I’m a lot more aware of my own problems now because you’ve inspired me to face them and accept that I need to make changes too.
When I’m out with my friends I feel happy. I laugh, I give friends advice and sometimes I talk about my problems. But I can only do that with a glass of wine (or preferably the bottle) in my hand and a few cigarettes. I never really saw it as a problem because that’s the way you’ve always been too. It’s catching up with me now and I realise that I can’t keep escaping that way, the way you did for so long.
Seeing you today in a different light has given me hope. Not just for you but for my own changes too. Despite all of the things you had to go through, your time in the war and then looking after our sick mother, you’ve somehow managed to take a brave step towards looking after yourself too.
If you can do it, I know I can.
I want you to know that I forgive you.
I know you carry guilt over some of the things you’ve said and done. I know you’ve often felt like a failure and a let-down to me and my brother and sister. I’ve walked away from you so many times when I’ve felt let down, disappointed and angry at you for not caring about yourself and you walked away from us every time you chose your addiction over us.
I’ve been trying so hard to make a life and a future for myself. I want to do well and make you proud but I can’t when I have to deal with your bad choices and the consequences that come with it.
I’ve never been able to forgive you for it, but seeing you now and how much you want to change has made me want to forgive you. I want to forgive you because I want to support every step you make now towards your recovery and towards your new life as our dad.
I want you to know that I love you.
I don’t think you’ve ever learned to love yourself and therefore you haven’t allowed yourself to feel loved by your children.
I know that the more you recover the more you’ll learn to love yourself again.
We’ve waited so long for you to let us love you, Dad. Please don’t give up. I can’t wait to see you again and tell you how much I love you.