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toxic fatherhood

Dear Dad, you inspired the worst in me

I saw my best friend cling to the arms of her father as he raised her in the air, treating her like a butterfly ready to spread her wings and soar in the winds of freedom. I looked back to the brooding silence with which my father had hated simply the thought of being alive in that moment. He wasn’t looking at her. He was perhaps looking at another self fulfilling prophecy the paranoid mind of his had created. I think moving my eyes to look at the irritated lines of his agitated face was a mistake so I turned to look at my best friend and her father.

You spent your life with all the emotions of love trapped inside of you. You never reached out to raise me in your arms to throw me into the air so I could fill my lungs with the air of freedom.

You told me there were cages I was to breathe in, and beyond it, all that existed was a respiratory arrest. These were cages of being able to sing when my vocals demonstrated the ability to lead an orchestra. I lit up the stage every time I acted, you took that away too. I couldn’t dance. I couldn’t speak out what my opinion was. I couldn’t eat what I wanted. I couldn’t do half the things I’d have done as myself. You wanted me to be something I could never understand because you had a problem with everything.

 You wanted me to be who I was not; you bend me so much that I broke. And then I couldn’t be anything.

When I reached the age of teenage, you reminded me that everything around me was a reason to live in fear. There was fear on roads, in men, in clothes, over social media, in the food, and in the way I washed my hands. How could you inculcate in me the fear of the opposite sex when I had already suffered an abusive childhood? I saw little sense in your direction.

You never explained why you only told me what. There were no question marks, only full-stops. Every time the television mentioned the name of a dictator I thought they were talking about you.

My actions were always restricted to what you thought the capacity of a female was entitled to. You told me that going to an arts school was easy for guys, difficult for girls. You told me that leaving the country was right for guys, wrong for girls. You told me how late nights were okay for guys, never okay for girls.

You made me fight God’s choices every time I questioned him for being a girl.

I complied for a long time. A long time until I lost myself every time I did not make the alternative choice to outsmart the fear you indoctrinated. And that’s when I started fighting my fears. You never told me why and only what, so I went looking for the reasons. That journey meant beating head on the fear you had poisoned me with. That also meant that the next time I saw you, dad, you hated me for who I was.

Had you been there to help me understand, you could have known me better. Had you been there to let me fly, I could have grown better. Had you been there to let me be, I would not have lost my voice and myself.

You tell yourself that all kids my age hate and blame their fathers. But I haven’t been able to love you at any age.

The cost of toxic parenting was a lot but the worst of them was never feeling whole, and never getting to know who I was. You still think this is a deliberate exhibition to inspire sympathy and I don’t have anything to convince you otherwise.

How could I when you barely even knew me? And I barely knew myself.

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