I wrote this long, long ago, and have never had the guts to share it. Take it or leave it. Read it or don’t. It’s a letter I wrote to… Him.

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

It’s time I write you this letter and get a few things off my chest.

For so much of my life, I spent too much time and energy telling the world what a good father you are and always were to me. I always tried my best to assume the best about you and your intentions. And while most people seemed to love you, I labored, endlessly defending you when others would say such harsh and hurtful things about you.

You were a good dad.

You were there for me.

You still are there for me.

These are the three things I have always fought to believe. But I don’t have that fight left in me anymore.

The truth is, you were an awful dad. Absolutely awful. And none of those things were true. Then or now.

I know what a good dad is. I am a good dad.

I work every single day to be the best dad I can be for my child. I make sure that I am there. I make sure that he sees me. I make sure that we play together. I make sure that he knows me. I don’t leave it up to him to make that happen. I didn’t abandon him the day he was born and hope that he would one day come find me, all the while expressing to others what a good dad I am.

No. I dive in and I make sure that at the end of the day, my son knows how much I love him. I think I’m doing a good job of it, and I feel like at the end of his time under my wing, he is going to be ready for whatever comes next. He is going to be ready because I am a good dad. A hands on dad. A present dad.

But you. That was not you then. It is not you now. You abandoned me when I was so little I can’t ever remember you ever being there.

I don’t have a single memory of which you are a real part.

The funny thing is, I wanted my dad to be there so badly, I transplanted images of you into some of my memories. Some of the darkest ones. Some of the happiest ones. I told everyone you showed up to those events in my life and that you were there because I didn’t want you to look bad. In some ways, I also didn’t want to be the one kid on the block who didn’t have a good relationship with his dad.

The truth is, I don’t even know you. I don’t know who you are, where you came from, or how it is that you ever called yourself my dad at all.

My mom, my siblings, my friends, my neighbors, even strangers off the street. They have all told me not to give up on you. They have told me how incredible and wonderful you are. They have told me how loving you are. And worst of all, they have told me that you keep up on every detail of my life, and that you step in and help me sometimes, but then you never tell me that you do.

Why the hell aren’t you the one telling me that? Why the hell do I have to hear it from Sally Sue down the street? “Your dad loves you so much, He is there, He has always been there.”

And why the hell does everyone say it’s somehow my fault that you aren’t here right now? I’m not being a good enough son. I’m not being faithful enough to you. I’m not wanting you in my life badly enough.

God. What kind of dad are you?

I don’t distance myself from my child and hope that he’ll come find me, then ditch him forever when I’ve made myself so hard to find that he eventually gives up.

I don’t leave him to cry himself through his hardest struggles without offering my shoulder for him to cry on.

I don’t send letters to the other people in his life and tell them to pass along all the information I want him to have.

I don’t disappear, neglect him, and then blame him for not putting in the effort over his life to get me back.

And more than anything, I don’t eternally tease him with promises of amazing moments and time that he will one day get with me, if he’ll just wrap his entire life around me and the belief that we will one day be together. One day, he will have his daddy.

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Dan Pearce is an American born writer, photographer, and artist. His books include "The All-Important, Well-Fed, Giant White Man" and "The Real Dad Rules." He is best known for his blog (and supporting Facebook page) "Single Dad Laughing," with 2 million followers as of 2018.