A (very) draft letter to my sister’s dad

I’m not sure if I’m going to send this yet. It just all flooded out. I’ve sent my wedding invitations out now (yesterday) and I haven’t sent him one so I think maybe that’s why I want to send it…

please let me have your comments, opinions etc. It’s rather verbal diarrhoea at the moment and needs editing.

Dear [ ]

I wanted to write you this letter so that you could understand my feelings and a letter feels like the best way for me to do that.

I think (hope) that your intentions the night you came to our house were good. I think, on reflection, that you just want me and Sister to get along well again and that after speaking with my mother, you wanted to play some kind of peacekeeper and encourage me to make up with her so that, in the end, everyone got along and things went back to normal. I’m sure that you are aware that me and my mother not speaking has an adverse affect on Sister. But it shouldn’t. I don’t want it to and I will do my upmost to keep the two of them separate. That’s my sole reason for refusing to discuss her with Sister. It’s to protect our relationship, that’s all.

I like to think that was your motive anyway.. but I want to explain to you, in writing so you properly “hear me” how it felt to me at the time and so you can hopefully understand why I was so upset and so angry.

At the time Sister had text me and asked if she could come to my house to speak to me and Fiancé because she wanted us to sort things out: I was very happy that she asked that after having tried to sort things with her for months. I said yes. An hour or so later she asked if you could come as you had a Xmas present for me. I told her I would love to see you, but that we should arrange that for another evening – that me and her should clear the air first. She agreed. I was so pleased she wanted us to move on as that is what I wanted too.

So you can probably appreciate my shock when you walked into our house that night. We wasn’t expecting you and what’s more, it felt very disrespectful to come over knowing we had said no. I don’t mean that to sound insulting, but if someone said no to me going to their house one one particular evening, I wouldn’t go – that’s normal surely? But also because you came despite my wishes and that felt like it was meant to be a bit intimidating. It felt like you were coming in to my house in an aggressive way.

Anyway, you came and the second Fiancé stepped outside and I was alone with you and Sister your tone and whole demeanour changed and you began to talk about how you are “worried” about me and how you had spoken to my mother, how counselling wasn’t doing me any good and even referred to it as a cancer. I found this very insulting.

I told you several times that my argument with my mother and my counselling were my private issues and not for anyone else, you or anyone, to worry about or discuss with me (or with anyone else). But from my perspective you wouldn’t leave it and at no point in the time you were there was the main focus about me and Sister.

The more you pushed your opinion on my counselling the more angry and defensive I got. The reason for that is that it is private. It’s my business and it doesn’t matter to me what anyone else’s opinion on it is. To be frank, why people keep telling me their opinion ion it is a mystery because it’s irrelevant. You are of course fully entitled to believe that you personally wouldn’t benefit from counselling, but I do. And I respect that you have decided not to do that and I ask that you respect that I have. We are allowed to differ in our opinions aren’t we? As two adults I don’t see any reason that can’t be left there – no need for any further debate. If it’s because you’ve heard the lies my Mother’s spread since we stopped speaking, then please remember there are two sides to every story and she’s lied and exaggerated about that.

I would like to say that when I was young you were one of (if not THE) most significant and trustworthy people in my life. I genuinely thank you and my Nan with all my heart because growing up without the two of you showing me love and care, would have been horrendous. I have a lot of happy memories with you and Sister. They made a huge difference to my life as a child. I have never harboured ANY bad feeling towards you, in fact I always felt extremely lucky and privileged that someone would take me on as their own daughter when I wasn’t a blood relative and after you and my mother divorced many years ago, you could have easily forgotten me – but you never did. I will be thankful to you forever for that regardless of how our argument ends and it’s important to me that you know that always.

I also think you should understand that as a child when you and her divorced I wasn’t allowed to see you, that hurt me a lot because you were the tiny bit of security and normality that I had. When I finally saw you and got to tell you this I was sat down and shouted at by my mother and Keith for wanting to see you. She then told me a very detailed account of why I shouldn’t want to see “someone that nearly killed your mother”. I was about 11 years old. Can you imagine how scary it was for me as an 11 year old to want to see someone and have my mother make me feel both guilty and scared for feeling that way?

I still wanted to see you despite that but I’ll admit I was cautious. What little girl wouldn’t worry after hearing details of violence like I was told?

Try then and see how awful I felt the other week when, regardless of your motive, you effectively told me to make up with my mother, “move on” – effectively get over it. It physically hurt my chest as it felt like you felt your relationship with her was more important than with me. It felt like in that moment I lost someone who used to protect me from her and that you became her protector instead. I missed the man that I could tell my hurts too who would fight to protect me.

That night you said to me that perhaps you didn’t do enough for me. I wonder from you saying that if you think you should have done more or whether you feel you failed me in some way? I have pondered whether you feel like you wanted to, but couldn’t save me or something. I wonder if you want me to make this whole thing right with my mother because otherwise it’s glaringly obvious that things didn’t end up the way any of us wanted. I think after the horrible childhood you had, you wanted to give me and Sister something much better, much happier and much more secure and YOU did. You did. But..

But you have to appreciate that my home life away from you wasn’t like that and there was nothing more you could have done about that. Do you remember going to court to fight for custody of me? I was young and would have had to stand up and tell the judge I didn’t want to live with my mother and I was too scared to do that, do you remember that? Do you remember how I had awful headaches where I was scared of various men that I had to live with?

You didn’t even know about the sexual abuse as I was a bit older and didn’t see you as much, you had no way of knowing but being told that my mother not believing me shouldn’t matter anymore killed me inside. That is why I burst into a state of tears. It again felt like my protector had left me. I cried to you that you had no idea how I felt and you shouted back that actually, you did. And that hurt me more – if you do know that pain, if you can still remember that pain, then you should know better than to brush it off as another “get over it”. It made me question would your reaction be the same if it had happened to Sister instead of me?

You said on the phone that “my daughter is my only concern”. You were talking about Sister. In that moment it was like I slipped from being one of your daughters to a nobody. No longer your daughter? I felt so hurt again.

It isn’t that I’m stuck in the past as everyone seems to think I am – it’s genuinely the opposite. I am moving on and in order to move on and find happiness I wanted to tell my mother the ways she hurt me and how unloved I felt, how I never felt loved or precious from her and how I never felt important, how I always felt a burden and how I never felt safe. It’s my right to confront my mother about my feelings isn’t it? I’m sure you agree. So I did and all I wanted was for her to show some empathy and say she was sorry, genuinely but she could not. And so, I’ve removed myself. That IS me moving on . That IS me drawing a line under it – just not in the way that everyone wants me too. I’m not going to apologise for that decision, believe me it’s not an easy one. I am having to deal with a lot of my own feelings around this, but after the way I felt growing up, I’m putting myself and my needs first now – like she should have when I was young. Again I hoped you would understand my need for a genuine apology as you’ve wanted one yourself from your own mother. You surely know that pain?

I wonder whether my pain is a little raw for you to handle because some of my pains (feeling unloved by your mother, feeling unsafe, feeling a burden, the abuse, etc) mirror old wounds of your own and perhaps you find yourself telling me to get over it and move on because you don’t want to think about your long buried pain too. Who knows. That isn’t a dig, some people prefer to block stuff out – I’ve just decided to deal with mine a different way. They say the only way out, is through.

I have never wanted to fall out with you. I wish you could keep our relationship with one another way away from mine with her. I wish you could just encourage me and Sister to make things better because you love us both – not because she is your priority and I’m nobody anymore.

I appreciate you want me and Sister to get along – so do I! and whether you believe it or not, I have NEVER bullied her. That really hurt when you said that. I was like a mother to Sister when I was young. When we wasn’t with you I had to be. When we were with you I could be a child but at home I couldn’t be. I had to be a mini adult.

When she struggled with depression it was me she came too. Unfortunately despite what my mother says, she doesn’t and has never encouraged us getting along. She has to have one good child and one bad – me and Sister getting along threatens her for some reason. I don’t understand it but it’s clear to see and always has been.

A lot of Sister’s depression came from feeling left out when I was in my mum’s spotlight and I fully see that now. I didn’t, as I was under her spell, but she was only interested in me because I was like a mini her and I was old enough to drink and smoke and go to clubs and Sister wasn’t – that’s all. She could mould and manipulate me. Until I grew up and now she hates that and tries to ruin my happiness. She can’t see me as a different person to her.

And now she is treating Sister like that – I’m glad if it makes Sister happy, that’s for her to decide. I understand Sister enjoying feeling approval and niceness from my mum that she’s craved her entire life. I get it. But sadly it’s not unconditional. I still cannot believe she would rather lose her daughter these past 6 months than say she’s sorry for making me feel the way she did.

On a happier note, you should know that I am genuinely the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life now. I’ve met a wonderful man who looks after me and makes me feel loved. I love my stepchildren and hope for my own one day soon. I am finally able to accept that there’s nothing wrong with me and am not constantly seeking approval from anyone. I know I’m good enough as I am and I won’t fight any longer to make people love or approve of me if they don’t. If people have noticed changes in me, those are the changes. They are all positive. Perhaps it doesn’t feel that way to others but that’s mainly because they aren’t used to the new me. I’m turning 30 soon, I don’t want to waste any more of my life feeling how I used to feel. I hope that people that claim to love me, want me to be happy – and I am happy.

Anyway, now you know my feelings about it all and why I was so upset that night. It may not change anything for you and if so, that’s a real shame but I will feel better knowing you have this letter.

Don’t feel you have to reply to it. I just needed you to read it.

Me x

8 thoughts on “A (very) draft letter to my sister’s dad

  1. Fantasic job of standing up for yourself!!

    The main thing that concerns me is whether you’d be opening up yourself to more harrassment by being so open? Having only known you at the point where your relationship with him has been strained, I can’t “feel” all the good bits that went before, so it’s obviously your call to make based on better knowledge of him. Also, maybe a bit too apologetic in tone in some spots. I know it’s really hard to get the right balance, that is kind and warm but still firm and reinforces your belief in yourself and your right to healthy relationships. It sort of trails off at the end and leaves you vulnerable, to me it feels like it’s recreating a parent-child submissiveness. I would suggest ending on a more positive and assertive note about what you would like from your relationship with him in the future, and sort of verbally placing the ball in his court to step up and act like a mature and *kind* adult.

    As always (sorry!! I feel like a school teacher with a red pen doing this) I’d like to offer a couple of alternative wordings in spots where I think there is the potential to misread things, especially when feelings are running high:
    “You are of course fully entitled to believe that you personally wouldn’t benefit from counselling, but I do.” – that could be interpreted as saying your think *he* needs counselling. Rather than saying “I do”, perhaps something like “but it is something I believe in for myself” – longer, but clearer.
    “I am having to deal with a lot of my own feelings around this, but after the way I felt growing up, I’m putting myself and my needs first now – like she should have when I was young.” – I think that last bit should read “like she should have done for me when I was young”, other wise it could be read as that she should have done it for herself (which she already did, obvs).
    I hate to pick on grammar because it feels petty, but at the same time I don’t want to give him something to pick on or be dismissive of that is irrelevant to the argument you are making, but there’s a few times you’ve said “wasn’t” where it should be “weren’t”.

    And one final thing, because this is the bit I ALWAYS fail at myself, have you thought about what he might say or do in response, and how you will handle that? It feels like dealing with other people’s bad behaviour is a bloody game of chess, where you have to think several moves ahead. Which brings to mind a cartoon someone sent me in sympathy when I was dealing with narcissistic bullying – https://tinyurl.com/yc8sjqy5

    Good luck with it all ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. PS, I hope what I said above doesn’t come across as too critical and hurt your feelings. You’re probably extra sensitive right now and I don’t want to make you feel worse. I think that regardless of whether you send it, you’ve done an excellent job in getting all your thoughts straight about all this.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh wow what a fantastically helpful comment! DV, thank you so much for being so detailed and thoughtful in your response. I’m sorry I’m late I was already in bed asleep when you sent it as had to get up at 6am today. Yawn!

      I will go through the letter and amend your comments – I agree entirely with them all. Thank you.

      I haven’t really thought it through much to be honest… I just started typing and then it all came out.

      I get what you’re saying about you not being able to feel the good bits… I guess the good bits ended when I was younger – we pretty much stopped seeing each other when I reached my late teens and so the relationship kinda ended then but in a natural way rather than because of any argument or issue.

      I think if he got my letter and didn’t feel any differently then I would rest easily knowing I’ve done all I can do and that I’ve been vulnerable and honest – the only thing I worry about is that he will probably show my mum. That makes me cringe a bit x

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  2. I think in the same way as when you drafted that letter to your mum, you would need to keep it factual about actions and behaviours and take the emotion out of it so if he does show your mum then it is purely a boundary-setting letter. It makes it clear that any communication is directly between you and him, or you and her, and you don’t want either of them to try and act as a go between. If you start saying how you felt, or speculating what his motives might have been, they could use all that against you by saying you are accusing or not letting go of things etc.

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