I almost do 

I bet you either think I moved on or hate you, because each time you reach out there’s no reply. And I bet it never, ever occurred to you that I can’t say ‘hello’ to you and risk another goodbye.

No, those aren’t my words. They belong to the queen of expressing heartbreak herself Taylor Swift, but I found myself singing along as I read your text today. It’s funny because I’ve jammed to this song before, thinking of past loves, but I never thought about you.

As soon as I saw the number, I prayed it was someone else, but deep down I kind of knew. To be honest, part of me wanted it to be you. It’s been so long and I miss you so much. Sometimes when life is hard, I imagine the talks we had and how much you listened, cared and believed in me. All I want is that again, to be reminded that I can do anything and that you’re so proud of me no matter happens. 

Maybe this is why we’re bad for each other. We’re both lazy dreamers who want so much but arguably watch way too much television to accomplish anything. You support my wild ideas and impulses because you’re just as flighty as me. Or maybe I’m just as flighty as you. After all, you are my father.

I want to be rude and ignore you, because after all it’s what you deserve. What kind of person tells his daughters he needs some time away from them? Then I remember that I’m not blameless either, and the ‘get what you deserve’ game is a dangerous one, considering deep down we’re all garbage humans anyway.

I want to be nice to you because I don’t want to be the bad guy in your social media rantings. I don’t want people to think you’re some martyr with demon children because for some reason they believe everything you say online. I don’t want strangers, or even worse the people who watched us grow up, to believe the nasty things you say about us online, and maybe if I play your game I can spare the condemnation.

I want you to come back into my life because I miss your laugh and stupid jokes and the twinkle in your eye. I want you to know I’ve forgiven you and to ask for your forgiveness too.

But then I remember you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong, and you won’t say sorry. Why would you? You’re sick, right? We need to be more understanding. We need to love you more. We need to put you first. 

My nostalgia for the good times of Saturday night trips to Butler and late night movies spirals into the bad, like all the times you didn’t show up when we needed you. Or when you wouldn’t pick us up on time because you were drunk. Or when you finally showed up and took us somewhere while you were still drunk.

You swoop in like the hero of my story to remind me of your great love for me, even if I can’t believe it. You make it seem like we could be happy again if I just got over my pride and accepted your love. You ignore my sister and try to pull me back in, just like every time before.

It’s almost as if you can tell when I need you the most. Maybe you still have fatherly instincts buried somewhere deep. You get to me when I’m weak and give me a glimpse of the love I used to know. You make me want to crawl back to you.

In this way, you’re the worst kind of ex. I know you’re bad for me and I know you will hurt me again. I want it to feel like it used to, but I know it never will. I even start to tell myself this time it will be different, but like every idiot from my past, you can’t say to me what I need to hear.

I’m sorry.

It’s all I need. I don’t need it to forgive you; that’s already done. I need it because it means for the first time you see how much you’ve hurt us too. You understand that disappearing and not showing up and sending emails about killing yourself can have a profound effect on your daughters. 

I don’t want you to apologize for being sick, I get that. I don’t hold your mental illness against you. But you’ve admitted and we know that your illness isn’t to blame for everything. I want you to say sorry for being selfish and cold toward us.

Sometimes it feels like I spent my entire childhood trying to convince you I loved you, because you could never believe I actually did. It got harder and I stopped trying as much, and it was like you stopped trying too. I used to believe I had to hold us together and do whatever it took, even if it hurt, but now I know that isn’t what we needed.

I’m sorry, Dad. I’m sorry I wasn’t enough and couldn’t convince you of my love. I’m sorry I saw you less and less as I got older. I’m sorry it got harder and I became more selfish. It doesn’t matter how you made me feel, I should’ve kept trying for you.

This is just another way we’re alike, I guess. We’re good at relationships when they’re easy, but when they going gets tough, we become the victim and only think about ourselves. I see this now, and I want to get better. I hope you do, too.

I love you so much. I have a great life, but there is always a piece of my heart missing. It doesn’t matter that you broke it; it still wants you to come back and make it whole again.

I just want to tell you it takes everything in me not to call you. And I wish I could run to you, and I hope you know that every time I don’t, I almost do. 

I almost do.

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