An Unsent Letter to Dad: the Impact of Secondhand Drinking on Children

by Guest Post on April 28, 2010

Thank you author and speaker Lisa Frederiksen of Breaking the Cycles for this regular series sharing her decades long experience of dealing with family alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Click here to see the rest of the series.

Breaking the Cycles at The Discovering Alcoholic

I’d like to share the words of a high school girl who wrote a letter to her alcoholic father, never mailed. It’s the rawness of her hurt, so many years into her life, that drew me to share this letter in the hope we can better understand the devastating impact on the children in a family with alcohol abuse and/or alcoholism. The scars go far deeper than what/who we treat — namely, alcoholism/the alcoholic. These scars shape the next generation — their sense of self-worth, their coping skills…. We must work to enhance our alcohol awareness, education, prevention and intervention programs to include the impacts of secondhand drinking – especially on the children.

…Was there a time in your life when you sat down with yourself. when you found yourself looking at me and thinking, “Wow, I love her, I love her with all my heart.” Because dad that’s what I think. I could never love you more because my heart is only so big. Because you are my father, my only dad, I will always love you. Always. And even when you can’t will yourself to call me, or when I’m not important enough to see, please remember that I am always here. I always want to hear your voice. Even when it is touched with sweet drink. Because you are my father — my only dad.

And even when you are not present I think of you. I hate you you but I always think of you.

Why can’t you think of me? Why can’t I win your heart and mind and fill the hole in your heart that is lacking the passion a father feels for his child — his daughter.

I miss you, and I will never stop loving you.

When I was young, how could you play with me. Was I too small and niave to notice that the few times I entertained your fancy were marked by alcohol. Why did I think you always were asleep? Why don’t you stop drinking? Will you ever? Am I important enough to you? Will I ever be?

Although I have these many questions I know they will never be answered. I know you will never admit your fault because you fail to believe it is a problem. You fail to think that your drinking has made me the way that I am. And for that, I will never forgive you….

The extreme useless feelings I possess are because of you. The way I supress my feelings comes from the rejection and absencse of caring that you showed me at such a young age. It is because of you that I am writing this letter to tell you that you have not only hurt me, but that you have changed me. Although you have remained significantly absent in my life, you have contributed to my development. But don’t take pride in this because it is my faults you have created.

I am writing to you as my first attempt to supress these faults as I do with my feelings. I’m telling you that although I love you, I hate you and there is only one thing you can do to change that.

I need to feel the love of a father. Experience the adoration that I have never had. I wish I only knew what it was like because it seems so good.

Why don’t you love me? Why don’t you care enough to care?

I miss you forever because I don’t know what it’s like to have you.

I love you.
And I hate you.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Erin Korbel November 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I know exactly what this feels like… word for word… with an ocean sized puddle of sadness, heartbreak, rejection, hate, etc… My Father no longer drinks, but he might as well have never stopped… Me, my brother & sister still don’t matter to him now that he recovered. I have been writing a letter for my Father for many years now and have never felt I was getting it right, because I would get so caught up in the emotions of the letter that it’d end up too long with too many run on rants. My Father has definitely changed me and I am so envious of the relationships my friends have with their Dad’s… It’s everything I think it could ever be like and have spent the last 25 cognitive years of my life trying to figure him out, trying to figure out who I’d be without trying to have a relationship with him, since my older brother and younger sister have already gotten to the point, years ago of not wanting a relationship with him… I am now going through the 7 stages of grief with “losing my Father”… Not literally… because he’s still alive, but I need to treat this as a death, because we have no relationship and probably never will and I need to get over it and move on, or my life will never be worth more than this. I refuse for him to ruin the last 1/2 of my life, because he already ruined the 1st.

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