Dear Daniel

Dear person,

It’s been a few months since I’ve stood in front of you, since I’ve said a word to you.  When I first met you I recognized you as a man with a kind heart, a man that would never hurt me.  I looked up to you those first few years, you were my superhero, my savior.  You were the only man I had ever been able to call “Dad”.  Hard to believe that I would come to despise the man I would trust my life with.  I want you to know that for the first two years you were married to my mom, I truly loved you.  The first two years of actually having a dad were some of the best times of my life.  As a six year old how was a suppose to know that soon enough all of those good times would disappear and be replaced with bad times?  That the man I trusted my life with, would put my life in danger?

Let’s start with how trusting I was of you.  I was four when I first met you, and it had always been just me and mom.  I didn’t know what life was like with a dad around all of the time.  I truly thought you were the greatest thing that had ever happened to me, the silver lining in my life.  Boy was I wrong, I wish I could go back in time and warn my mom about you.  I would warn her about your anger, and how much you loved to make people cry.  The first two years you were in my life were like a dream, I was floating through life.  Ya know, before you went mad we had a perfect life.  It was a storybook life, people would tell stories about us, we were the perfect family.  You showed how much you loved mom and I, or so it seemed.  You should have been an actor instead of a corrupt cop.  

By the time I was six the act was up, you got tired of playing the nice guy.  I told myself that every time you called me a “lazy piece of shit” it was because I truly was a “lazy piece of shit”.  Or every time you would yell at me it was because I deserved it.  Never did I think that the problem was you, you lucky bastard.  It took me eleven years to realize that I wasn’t the problem.  And by the time I realized it was too late, the damage had already been done.  You have a sick and twisted mind, but I have to give it to you; you’re a fucking amazing actor.  Did you know, not a single person would have expected you to be the abusive type?  Weird how things are perceived by the public. What sucks the most is that up until I was nine, I still loved you so much.

When I was nine YOU decided I was a troubled child and I needed to see a therapist every week to get back in line.  I cried every single time we had to go because I didn’t want to be a troubled kid, I wanted you to be proud of me.  Something I would never receive from you.  But, I went along with it because if I didn’t there was a chance you would hit me and lord we did NOT want that.  So there I was every single week meeting with some creepy old guy who wasn’t even a therapist, but a  Social Services employee.  What the hell did he know about therapy?  Close to nothing, this man claimed to have my best interest but when it came down to it I was never his first priority.  This man would never talk to me alone, my super cool British dad had to be sitting next to me the entire time.  I couldn’t ever say what I was truly feeling because I would be talked over.  You and this man made me feel like I had no voice, something I would continue to feel for years to come.  I was a nine year old who was depressed.  How the fuck did you think that was acceptable?  I don’t know how people in your family treat these things, but going to a fake therapist doesn’t solve a single problem.  If we’re being honest here, which we clearly are, I am 100% positive it only made it worse.

I don’t think you realized that with every name you called me, my self worth would drop another notch.  Or that every time you hit me a lost a little bit more of myself.  Every time you made me shed a tear a lost a little more belief in myself, to the point where I no longer believed in myself.  You took something from me at a young age that I wouldn’t get back until my senior year of high school.  You took me away from me, I was no longer the bubbly, funny kid everyone knew and loved.  I was the depressed middle schooler who was afraid to go home every night.

I thought that after my brother was born you would stop it, because babies make people happy and I so desperately hoped that you would realize how horrible you were.  But it only got worse from there.  Bet you didn’t know I tried to run away three times did you?  Want to know what kept me from doing it?  My incredible mom who was always around to make me happy, and a baby brother I simply adored.  I watched the way you treated him, I knew that look you gave him all to well.  It was the way you looked at me the first two years of our relationship, before it all went to shit.  At first I was beyond jealous of him, why did he get your good side but I didn’t?  Why did you have to treat me so horribly, but treat him like he was a god?  I wasn’t your real daughter, the only thing we shared was a last name.  You took responsibility of me, you legally adopted me.

The day you adopted me was the best day of my life, I officially had a dad.  I was no longer the girl with a different last name than the rest of her family.  I went from Yves Campbell to Yves Cotterill.  I thought it was the coolest thing, but who wouldn’t?   Imagine this okay, you grow up with just your mom.  You have a different last name than her, and you have no clue why.  Then one day a man comes into your life and makes it better, and then all of the sudden he wants to be your dad.  You’ve never had a dad so this is the best thing ever.  I finally had someone to call dad, and boy did I.  But you never really considered me to actually be your daughter did you?  I know the truth now, and that’s okay.  Because I also don’t consider you to be anything close to a dad to me.

By the time I was in middle school I hated my life, I was miserable.  At school I was a 4.0 student, always on the honor roll.  I focused on school more than anyone I know, because while I was at school I was free.  There was no way you could harm me while I was in that building.  On Mondays I would ask my teachers if I could have all of that weeks homework so that I could divide it up so that I would have something to do every single night.  If I was being quiet and doing my homework there was no way for me to upset you.  When I was at school I was a different person,  I was the happy, bubbly kid people knew.  I was a loud, goofy kid again, it was like I had never changed.  I loved being at school.  When I would step off the bus everyday, ready to make the mile walk home I would slowly start to crawl back into my hole again.  The happiness would start to fade and the smiles would disappear once again.  By the time I would get home I was back to being the depressed middle schooler who hated going home.

Wednesdays were the absolute worst, I would be left alone with you for the whole night.  My mom worked in Cedar Rapids and worked until seven on Wednesdays.  That meant that from four to eight I was stuck tiptoeing around my house, doing everything not to piss my dad off.  I would get home and hope that your shift the night before hadn’t been too bad.  Or that you hopefully had gotten enough sleep that day.  You see you were a cop at this point, and working the night shift most of the time.  Most days I would get home and you would still be in the basement sleeping, so I would have to be as quiet as I could because I didn’t want to wake you up.  All hell would break loose if you were ever woken up.  You would throw a tantrum if you were woken up before you wanted to be.  At the time I think that was my biggest fear, waking up the terror itself.  The punishment for waking you up was normally a slap across the face, or a blow to the head.  Nothing I couldn’t handle.  I mentioned earlier about how I would plan my homework out for the whole week, well Wednesdays were when I did the majority of my homework.  The longer it took me to do it all, the less time I had to spend hiding from you.  I think the worst was when there were early outs, god I hated early outs.  From one to eight I would be left alone with a man I was deathly afraid of, how delightful.

Do you still remember that time you threw me down our hallway?  I never knew a little pussy like you had that much strength in you, I’m still shocked you had it in you.  I mean yea I weighed maybe 70 pounds, buts thats a lot to throw when you have arms like yours.  If you’re thinking that I’m lying because you simply don’t remember let me refresh your memory.  It was getting pretty bad, you were always yelling at me, I was always in trouble.  I can’t exactly remember why I was in trouble this time, but I know that it was worse than it had ever been.  I knew you were more than mad at me, and I knew I had to get as far away from you as I could.  I started going towards my room when I felt a sudden tug on my backpack, then I was suddenly slammed against the bathroom door.  You had lifted my and thrown me down our hallway, and you know what’s funny?  Sure I was in a ton of pain, and I was upset but I was more upset because you had broken my brand new Bath and Bodyworks hand sanitizer.  Even after everything you had done to me I still had such a pure mind, I was mad at you because you had broken something of mine, not because you had just harmed me.  Mom came home that night and asked how it had broken so I simply told her that you had thrown my backpack and she went out and got me a new one, I saved your ass.  I covered up everything you ever did to me because I was so scared that my mom would look at me differently, or that she would say it was my fault anyways.  You left handprints on my arms from grabbing me, I don’t think I covered that up.  How could I have?  Mom knew something was going on, she always did but what could she do?  She was just as scared of you as I was.

Seventh grade was the worst time of my life.  I was at an all time low and I even stopped being happy at school, my grades dropped.  You and mom were getting a divorce, how lucky was I?  One would think a divorce would be the one thing that could save me, it did the opposite.  You and mom were at each other’s throats 24/7, our home was a fucking war zone.  You became even more of a monster, which I didn’t think was possible.  I spent the majority of my time hiding in my room, I didn’t want to be anywhere near you.  I was in 8th grade when the divorce was finally coming to an end, I was more depressed than I had ever been.  I wanted to die, I was a 13 year old and I was thinking about suicide.  How fucked up is that, you made your 13 year old daughter want to kill herself.  I thought about how if I died maybe you would see how cruel you are and you wouldn’t treat oliver that way.  How if I was gone you could no longer hurt me, I would be safe from you.

We moved out, I didn’t see you for a whole three weeks.  I was happier than I had been in 9 years.  I thought I was free, you were going to be out of my life for good.  But that wasn’t the case, it was much much worse from that point on.  What I didn’t think about was how I would have to go live with you for days on end.  I was petrified, the last thing I wanted was to be alone with you.  I was so glad Oliver was there with me, he was my savior.  You payed more attention to what he was doing than what I was doing.  I was never home that first summer, I tried to be out every chance I got.  You still had a temper, it only got worse once you realized you were alone again.

Writing this makes me realize how broken I truly was, and how empty I felt at such a young age.  But it’s been 84 days since the last time I talked to you and I’ve grown so much.  I no longer want to die, a feeling I didn’t think would ever go away.  I now know my worth, my self confidence has sky rocketed.  I value myself more than I ever thought would be possible.  For the past nine years of my life I wanted death, I thought I wasn’t worth living.  Now I can proudly say that I don’t want to die, I want to live.  I want to show you that I can amount to something more than a broken little girl.  It’s been 84 days since I last cried out of fear, since I last cried myself to sleep because of you.  84 days is nothing but to me it’s a damn lifetime.  I have grown so much in these past few months, and I have so much more in me.  I am happy with who i am and who I am becoming.  So thats it, thats my way of letting go, I’m free.  I wrote my heart out and now I’m done, I have nothing left to say.  I could keep writing for the rest of my life about all of the things you have done to me, but I have no desire to bring up anymore bad memories.  This is my closure, this is where my story with you ends.  This is where we say goodbye, this is our end.  There was a happy ending for me, but you’re still a sad lonely man.  So goodbye Dan, have a good rest of your sick life, I’m going to go live my life.

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