A Letter To My Daughter’s Father

She’s just like him, like you. Everything I hated in you is in her.

I know how she feels, but I don’t make it any easier on her.

She’s just like him, like you. Everything I hated in you is in her.

She’s just like me. Everything I hate about me is there too.

Sometimes I stare at her and wonder where you might be. I want to apologize to her, to you, like there’s some kind of psychic link between you both.

I’m her mother. I can feel it when she’s hurting, no matter how far away she is. I wonder if you do, too?

I’m thinking about you. I am. I’m sorry for everything I put you through. I’m sorry I never told you she really was yours.

That’s what I would say if I knew where you were — if I had the courage to find you.

If I was stupid enough to try and find you?

She’s beautiful, she’s smart, she’s complicated. Everything I wanted to beat out of you is tethered deep into to her, following me around for at least ten more years.

I want to make her better. Better than you and better than me. But she’s just like you. Lazy and smart, but too self-involved to actually try. But she is better than you.

She’s better than me.

She has a chance at a better life, better than you could’ve given her. A life better than I could’ve, alone, like I’d planned.

She has a father who loves her like his own. You’d be satisfied with that.

You met him a couple times. He was the only one of my friends that had a shot at something more. He stood out like a concrete lighthouse—sturdy and guiding—amongst the storm. He’s the only one who thought about others more than he thought about himself. Those type of people make the best human beings. The best partners, the best parents, the best lovers.

You should be happy she has him. I am.

Everyone likes her. She’s magnetic and quirky. She’s like my mother in that way. You and I, we weren’t very well liked. You’re weird and annoying, and I’m a selfish, headstrong bitch.

I used you and you kept coming back. Why did you love me? Why did I love you?

You were nothing. I was nothing. We had no ambition. We gave up on life in our early twenties — we smoked and drank and fucked, then I fucked your friends and my friends and any halfway decent-looking guy who showed an interest in me.

And you kept coming back to that.

Did you like it? I hated that version of me. Why did you want it?

I never wanted you the way you wanted me.

Now you haunt me. You haunt my thoughts and you follow me around, disguised as an eight-year-old girl — crazy, beautiful, and completely ridiculous. And I love you. I love her. I thank you for giving her to me.

I’m afraid of you. I’m scared because you’re in my head too much, but you’re only there because of her.

You had to have known. This is your fault, not mine. I thought she was someone else’s, someone so much worse than you.

Someone I needed to run from…

But she’s not. She’s yours and there’s no denying it. She is you. She looks like you, laughs like you, talks like you, smiles and acts and is like you. She has your gapped teeth and your far apart eyes and your hair, mouth, smile…

And you’re missing everything.

I’m sorry.

But if you’re anything like the way you were then, running was the smartest thing I could’ve done.

For her. For me.

For you…