Being a Father This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

April 18, 2011
When I was six my father walked out on my family. Overnight I went from being the son of a wealthy attorney to being the son of a single mother raising two children and pregnant with a third. I resented everything about my father.

My mother struggled to keep us fed and warm. My father had found a way to avoid child support. We were on food stamps and constantly borrowing from my grandparents. I never had the nice things other kids had. I wore handed-down clothes. Everything was a struggle.

As a child I was angry at what my father had done to us. At six I vowed that someday I would make him suffer for leaving us. Instead of dealing with these feelings, I blocked out every thought about him, every early memory, and pretended I’d never had a father.

I was awkward as a child. I couldn’t make friends. I never did schoolwork. I let the other kids bully me. I was in my own little world. While I thought everything was fine, it was obvious to everyone else that something was wrong. I started seeing therapists when I was seven but never opened up to them. They all asked the same questions. They tried to get into my head and get me to talk about my father, but not one of them succeeded.

I was a straight F student from fifth grade until high school. Freshman year it all caught up with me. The mental fortress I had built came crumbling down. I went from bad to rock bottom. I would cut and burn myself, and wouldn’t get treatment when I needed stitches or had an infection. It was my way of punishing myself for what my father had done. I was blaming myself.

I convinced myself that he wasn’t a bad father; I was a bad son. My mother had me institutionalized. I was in and out of the hospital the rest of freshman year into sophomore year.

Since I was six I had wondered what I would do if I ever saw my father. I fantasized how I would make him suffer as much as he had made me and my sisters suffered. I would make him pay for making me the “weird” kid, the kid who couldn’t make friends, the kid who didn’t fit in. I wanted to make him pay for ruining my childhood.

When I was a sophomore, 10 years after he left, I saw him. He had track marks all over his arms. He was dirty and wore ratty clothes. He was pale with bags under his eyes. He looked dead.

He wasn’t my father. He was just another junkie. He didn’t even realize me. After all my fantasies about what I would do, I simply turned and walked away. He was already suffering; he had lost his chance to see us grow up. He missed watching his youngest daughter’s birth. More than anything, he missed out on having me for a son. He missed out teaching me to play ball and helping me with my homework – and everything else that goes with being a father.

Now I’m busy fixing the hole I’ve dug myself into. Every time I meet someone, they ask about the scars on my arms. I still have to look at them every day; they remind me of how out of control I was. But I have close to straight A’s now, and I’m planning to go to college. My goal is to never be like him. I want to be successful, and when I have a son of my own I’m going to be there. I’m going to teach him how to play ball, and I’m going to help him with his homework, and be there for everything else that goes along with being a father.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 8 comments. Post your own now!

KarKatVantas said...
Mar. 13, 2012 at 1:18 am
This had me in tears, absolutely stunning.
Mckayla7175 said...
Oct. 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm
This was amazing!! I loved it!! :) I am so sorry that you had to go through all of that.
jordiebell55 said...
Oct. 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm
wow you are an amazing writer! im sorry that you had to go through that,but, its nice to hear your doing better!!
Peanut98 said...
Oct. 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm
I love your writting it is awesome. Im sorry you had to go threw that. I am happy your doing better. Cudos to u!!! :)
Feathered_mortal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 21, 2011 at 6:44 am
This is so moving! You write beautifully. I'm glad you're doing better now. 
love,peace,sfc said...
May 2, 2011 at 7:09 pm
I am so sorry that you had to go through that but that was such a great story that pulled at my heart strings
AislinBrookes1 said...
Apr. 25, 2011 at 7:22 am
This is a really excellent telling of an all too familiar story. I loved your imaging, and as an illigitimate child, and as someone whose father was not in the picture, I truly related to you. Great job.
LINDZ said...
Apr. 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm
Good memior! I enjoyed reading it.
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