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Guilt clouds my mind and my self-resentment bubbles to the surface. I purposely avoid him every waking moment of my life. The excuses pile up like landfills in the corners of my brain. I try to justify why I treat my father like he doesn't exist but the guilt still remains. The man that has been in my life since birth is treated by me, his daughter, as if he’s a leper. It didn't use to be like this, so many things changed. I changed.

I remember sitting in the big green truck with Daddy. We just got in from the cold weather and I was about to start crying from the burning sensation I felt on my tiny cold hands. I had my favorite puffy coat on to keep my body warm but there were no pockets to protect my naked fingers. What felt like cold fire was licking greedily at my hands and I couldn't stand it. I was in elementary school then; I was still apt to put things in my mouth and this time wasn't any different. As I motioned to begin the elementary style warming ritual, “Whoosh!” A great rush of hot air blew into my face, and I realized that the heat was on. The heat began to thaw my hands and warm my face and I had the feeling that Daddy had something to do with it. I turned to look at him and I surely saw his wide smile and his head shaking from side to side chuckling at my silliness. I wanted to say something that could express my gratitude and happiness but the words wouldn't come so I settled for a silly little girl giggle. To me, at that time, Daddy was everything in my eyes: my protector, friend, teacher, provider, story teller— my entire world. Being in the car together was our time in our little world. In that world we would laugh and play while in the background a low toned woman serenaded us and we tried to sing back to her, horribly.

I believed that Daddy as a super hero that chose to live with regular people because I was that special. I say this because somehow he would know if I was telling the truth with just the look on my face (even when there was no expression). He always wore, in unimportant moments, the same ensemble which comprised of a jump suit that held the scent of motor oil. He was always under a car doing something and I would sit on the back porch steps talking to him. We would have random conversations and they were always about the car. Something around the realms of what new part he needed or what part of the engine he was going to tune up. Me being so young I didn't understand a word he said but I loved to hear the matter of fact tone in his voice. I can see myself, standing in front of this huge mirror modeling him to the finest detail. As time passed and I got older and more exposed to life our conversations got deeper and lengthy. He told me a lot through those “under the car” talks. Daddy had a lot to say and somewhere in his long winded babble there was love and wisdom. I miss those times…
6th grade year came along and the bond between father and daughter began to loosen. This was the same time the arguments between my parents began to get worse and more intense. It went from raging voices that yelled hours and hours into the night to silent battles that involved us: me and my two brothers. There were so many times when I would sit up in my bed and soak the sheets with my tears listening to my parents banter and rave on. The echoes of their voices clanged and banged through the vents into my ears; His voice would thunder and rumble and Mamma’s would crackle like a whip in response. Through those vents I heard so many things that scared me. I found out what divorce was through those vents. The fear of them getting a divorce and splitting up everything I ever knew as home was so strong it gripped at me for long hours. In total denial, I came up with the excuse that they wouldn't destroy my world like that, that they loved us too much to do that. It was a feeble excuse but I desperately wanted to believe everything was going to be alright. They’re bluffing they wouldn't want split us up, especially Daddy. But I was so wrong.

The moon hung high in star spangled sky staring down everything in its cool blue light. It was a great contrast to what was going on inside that night. I could feel the red hot anger erupting from my parent’s mouths. The words that they said to each other burned me with each syllable spoken. They were at it again and I did what I usually did cry. Now crying, for me, was a hated bodily function; a useless reaction. Every tear that fell from my eyes was cursed and wiped away quickly. The loudness didn't disturb me as it did when I was younger, by that time I was immune. My cries were not of sadness but of anger, irritation, and defiance. I only wished that they would shut up and get over their differences. The relentless battle of “who could talk louder than who” was a constant game played and I was tired of hearing it. At one point I closed my eyes and receded into my own dark realm and thought to myself the simple words of my poem. The words of a lover are as sweet as chocolate and warm as the summer sun. But when a lover speaks ill to its own the words become poison and burn like hell’s fire.
Knowing I had to return, I unfortunately came back to my disturbing reality and I noticed the silence. It wasn’t a peaceful silence that lifted the labored the breathing and lightened the burden of the fear stricken heart. But a tension filled silence that warned that there was more to come. I counted the heartbeats. One. . . Two. . . Three . . . Four. . . Five. . . I made it all the way to twenty six heartbeats before I heard Daddy’s voice beacon up to us from the stairwell, “Shay, Detrick, Deon ya’ll come on down here; we need to talk to you.” Now my brothers weren't as sensitive when it came to the fights but they weren’t blind. They knew something was wrong. That something was up with our parents. I slowly walked down the steps trying to prolong whatever it was to come upon me. Each step I heard a creak or groan from the wood was a taunt directed at the emotional fibers of my brain. It took a lifetime to make it down the steps. I was hoping that I would see the reassuring smile of my Daddy that I seldom saw anymore. But I only received the urgent whisper from Deon, “Hurry up Shay-Shay!” he became my best friend when they began to fight more and Dad and I began to talk less. So when he said that I took no offense with his demand and scurried into my parent’s room. My worst fear came to life that night…

For the simple reason that divorce meant splitting the children up, my parents tried to work it out. But nothing changed between them. I mean sure they stopped the arguing and the fighting but the boiling hot anger subsided to a cold resentment for one another. Talking to Dad wasn’t really an option in the months that followed that fateful day. Everything in our relationship withered to nothing. The moments in the car together were no longer magical and fun. I felt more depressed in the silence with him. I felt lonely with him beside me than when I was alone. There was a distance between us I never thought could ever form and it hurt me. Sitting in the back seat the lovely voiced woman didn't sound so beautiful anymore. She sounded sad singing solo.

Between my parents, as I expected, me and my two brothers were split up. Deon and I went with Mom and Detrick was to stay with Dad. Walking into my new “home” and leaving Dad alone was strange to me; it didn't feel right. So many thoughts went through my head. How is he going to cope without his family? Is he going to find happiness? Will I ever see him smile again? Will I ever have my Daddy back? I became so worried for him I actually dedicated myself to going back to my old home and keeping him company. In my mind I thought that was the best thing. I thought by me being there, his little girl, he would be less sad. But things only got worse. His hair sprouted more grays and his facial hair became overgrown. He was starting not fit his clothes from improper nutrition. My Dad was becoming a phantom and I could do nothing about it.

I asked the question that ran through my head every time I saw him, “What’s wrong Daddy? Why ain’t taking care of yourself like you supposed to?” His reply was flat but I could somehow sense the helplessness when he said, “I’m just not in the right mind right now.” I saw a vulnerable man, a man that I saw in rare form. For most of my life I saw him as a proud being that stood defiant against the hardest of things, that was my Daddy, the super hero I knew who could do anything. At this moment I pitied my father and the pain I saw in his eyes ran deep through his soul. Looking into those dark eyes he probably saw the same in mine. When I left him I hugged him in what was supposed to be comfort but it didn’t feel right. Something so natural felt alien to me as if he was a stranger I never met. After that day I began to stay away for multiple days at a time because of the unfamiliar feeling. In the absence, Dad started to take weekend trips and in the back of my mind I felt that another change was coming on and I wasn't going to like it.

In the month of November 2011 or 2010 (I could care less about the date) my father got married to a woman I barely knew. I was sitting in the pew when the recited their vows and kissed. The whole time rage sat in chest churning and trying to burn away my emotional block. I rejected this woman this, this thing in his life. I thought I was the girl he needed—me! I had only known of her existence for a few months and then two weeks before the wedding I was told they were to be wed. By the time the ceremony ended the little girl in me died. If he doesn’t need me anymore then there is no reason for me to come around at all. I need to grow up and stop needing my father.

I have kept to my promise. I’ve only contacted him if the circumstances needed him in the most earnest ways. I seldom visit anymore. When I do go it’s because my mother’s hand is threatening to “beat my head open” if I don’t. When I do go over there my emotions are hard not to hide. My body language screams the objection to the marriage and my face reflects the disdain of being there in the first place. My father notices these things and questions my reason and we argue. I don’t want any part of it. I don’t want to argue and I don’t want to be in a house that was once mine. By the change of events and he has destroyed the little girl that looked to him with admiration and in its place he has created a young woman that looks at her father with shame. I love him but the emotional demand is too much to bear. I wish we could go back to those times in the car, those winters in the snow, and those car talks. When I was his little girl my life was bliss. But I don’t know how I can turn back on the hurt I feel. I’ve grown up, I've changed, and I’m trying to adjust. But I can’t adjust fully until I can get this hurt out of my heart. Until then I will remain this distant daughter.




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This article has 12 comments. Post your own!

WriteOrWrongThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Aug. 6 at 7:28 pm:
This is so beautifully sad. I followed every piece. My parents are divorced too so this was really relatable. I can tell you have so much heart in this. The emotions really shine through especially with such observant descriptions. I felt your pain. I want you to know that I really connected with this and thought that they way you formatted this story was pretty good but I think it could be even better by focusing it more. I also noticed you had some missing punctuation in several spots such as... (more »)
 
OldYoungOneThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Aug. 7 at 9:33 am :
I agree. When I wrote this I was overcome with emoiton and I had little energy to go over the story again. I'll try to edit this. Thank you.
 
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MissExplorationThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Aug. 5 at 6:42 pm:
Your emotions really came through. I can see that you put all your emotions in this memoir. I hope your relationship with your father is better now. 
 
OldYoungOneThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
today at 1:57 am :
Isn't that what writing is about after all?
 
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MckayThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 9 at 4:35 pm:
This is chilling. And heart-braking. Sorry for sounding so cliche. But it's true. You have a way with emotions. You know where to touch the sensitive side of the human heart.
 
Artgirl1999This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Apr. 13 at 11:42 am :
This is really, really good. Great job!
 
OldYoungOneThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
today at 1:58 am :
Wow to say that is awesome. I never thought of it as chillign but truthful int he most painful way possible. Thank you for the comment MCKAy
 
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CammySThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Nov. 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm:
I really thought this was a great piece. I can tell your emotions are true and honest, and they seep through in your writing.  Keep writing and I hope things get better between you and your dad!
 
OldYoungOneThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Dec. 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm :
Thanks I really put my heart and soul into this and I'm great you see that
 
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Snowflakes said...
Nov. 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm:
Wow. This was amazing to read. My parents are divorced too, and you have captured the feelings that us 'distant daughters' are left with. This was literally heart-wrenching to read, I had tears in my eyes because I could feel the pain in your writing on how you wish things could go back to the times in the cars. This is beautiful, seriously, even if you no longer feel a connection with your Dad anymore, I suggest you don't stop writing, because this is the definition of perfection :)... (more »)
 
OldYoungOneThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Nov. 28, 2012 at 11:53 am :
Thank You so much. Having someone understand me is all I ask for in life... especially in my writing. I wrote this currently and to know that you think is great is wonderful. I am currently trying to mend my realtionship with my father so everything is okay thank you.         Could you possibly refer my pieces to other people?
 
Snowflakes replied...
Dec. 2, 2012 at 2:51 pm :
Oh, that's good! And of course I will :) 
 
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