A broken doll, symbol of a broken child

(I will be sending this in the post)

I have a little girl in my head.  Her memories are sad.  Her daddy left her and after he left her he did things which no daddy should do, ever.  He’s rude and nasty about her mummy, lots.  He wants her to call another woman ‘mummy’ and when she talks about ‘mummy’ at home her own mummy cries.  He manically jumps around on the front lawn for some reason which the little girl forgets.  Sometimes he rings up but the little girl doesn’t want to talk to him, and he just wants to argue with mummy.   When the little girl doesn’t want to go and stay with him, he makes her and she’s ill. Silly, stupid daddy.

Daddy has two new daughters.  He lives with them and he loves them.  He knows them better than he knows his old daughter, even at that young age.  The little girl vents her anger over this by stealing from her new sisters.  Her mummy makes her take the toy back and maybe nobody else ever has to know.

The little girl rarely has new stuff.  She knows her daddy doesn’t like giving up his hard earned cash to support his children.  But it’s cool because another slightly older little girl has a daddy who lives in Singapore and he sends clothes which eventually become second-hand clothes for the little girl. 

Our little heroine gradually stops seeing her daddy when he moves a fair distance away.  She doesn’t seem particularly bothered.  I think that by this point she has little love left for her daddy; when mummy gives her money to buy presents for daddy she’s much happier spending it on sweeties. 

Visiting daddy becomes a chore.  The little girl would far rather be at home with her mummy and her friends. And for some reason the visits become less frequent anyway.  Perhaps daddy has little love left for her now too.  Any love she had for him flutters away; he’s a stranger to her now.  It’s pretty obvious the love he has for his other daughters is much stronger because he takes them to exotic places in foreign lands and he lives with them and plays with them. 

He begrudges her maternal grandparents paying for holidays to Pontins once a year.

One day he rings up and says he’s popping in for a visit. The little girl is a teenager now and she desperately doesn’t want him to come whilst she’s alone in the house, but he does and she hates every moment of it.

She doesn’t see him again until she’s forced to at a wedding. 

She tries to be a daughter to him but it’s hard work … they have nothing in common.  They’re simply two strangers trying too hard to be something they’re not.

The little girl only invites her daddy to her wedding because she doesn’t want to deal with the fallout that will inevitably come from not inviting him. 

One day the little girl did something amazing.  People (even strangers) sent her beautiful messages, cards and flowers for doing something amazing.  The little girl’s daddy just posted a short message on her Facebook page.  No flowers, no card … just a short message, an after-thought. 

Daddy has never known when to bite his tongue.  This has partly been his downfall.  When he forgets to bite his tongue he comes across as bitter and twisted.  She blocks him from Fb.

And from her life.

The little girl is happy now and tucks the sad memories away.

But she knows what he did.

I know what you did.

I know why [name retracted] doesn’t let you see her children.

I know what you did to me.

And this is my response to the message you sent Big Brother, with your written word in bold.


I am somewhat upset by the fact that you and your siblings appear to have cast me in the role of the villain.

We didn’t intentionally.  You act (and continue to act) in such a way that we have no choice but to cast you as the villain.  My childhood memories are genuinely sad.  My only real memory from before you left us (you DID leave us) is of wearing a red and white nightie and needing you and mum to help me be sick in the bathroom.  My memories of the following years consist of hearing you make evil comments about my beautiful mum to us and making her cry, whether it be on the phone or in person. 

This is far from the case. Our marriage had hit the rocks some months before I left [village of my childhood]. I won’t go into detail since I do not wish to cause any further friction but I can assure you that your mother was far from the innocent party in the breakup.

It doesn’t matter what you say now about my mum.  She will always be the woman you let get away.  She will always be your ‘what if …?’ I am more than willing to hear what you have to say about my mum; I know that she will tell me the truth if I ask her.  This is simply a continuation of what you did back when we were little; make vitriolic comments to turn us against her.  It’s too late, John.  Whatever you say, whatever you now decide to throw at us, she is our mum and our dad all rolled into one.  She’s been the brunt of our anger (you can see the scars on her hands, caused as much by you as they were by me) and an emotional (and occasionally physical) punch bag for all four of us.  She’s the person who cared so much – and so unconditionally – that she couldn’t stop loving us even when we were so vile to her.  You caused our anger (and all of us are angry with you) but she was the person we took it out on.  You don’t know us at all.  She knows each of us inside out and upside down. Whatever you think she did, it’s not something you can now use as an excuse for walking out on us (and you DID walk out on us.)

Things became so intolerable that either your mother or I would have left anyway.

My mum would never have left us.

As far as I was concerned I never left you or the others.

But as far as we’re concerned you DID leave us. We were children, thinking as children. And now we are adults who still think as children, because we will always be the children in this [non-]relationship.

I just left a house where so much unhappiness was caused and was developing even further.

This is from your perspective.  My unhappiness didn’t materialise until you left, much of that unhappiness caused by how you acted after you went.

If you recall you and the others came regularly to see me and we went on holidays together.


This continued until your mother told me you no longer wished to come.

You make it sound like she made the decision.  She didn’t.  Your children have always been fully functioning thinkers with their own decision-making capabilities. You should be proud of that.

Surely this cannot be thought of deserting you?

You’re thinking as an adult.  Again, we’re thinking as children. And you DID desert us. 

Most of the money I earned ended up in [village of my childhood] and we lived almost entirely on [name retracted]’s money.

You obviously had a very poorly-paid job, because we lived on hand-me-downs.  We never had anything new and Christmas presents from mum often appeared in January.  You bought me an expensive Sindy swimming pool one year.  Anyhoo, this is a moot point.  You had four children and you left them and because of this they spent years living below the breadline in poverty. You still had to provide for them but in my memory you did this begrudgingly with the least possible amount you could get away with, and you were very quick to stop the maintenance when we each turned seventeen.  Did you think we stopped existing at that age?  Did we stop needing anything?  Food?  Clothing?  It all magically appears at that age? You may not (in your eyes) have deserted us physically, but letting us down financially is one way to desert your children.

In view of the above I’m sure you can understand why I feel let down by my children and their lack of contact with me.

Actually, no … there is nothing you have written which suggests your children let you down.  We haven’t let you down. You are not a child; stop acting like a petulant spoilt brat.  As an adult you made a decision and that decision had far-reaching consequences.  Each of the decisions you had to make based on that initial decision have had consequences. I can’t speak for the others, but my lack of contact with you is to do with the fact that I have nothing to say to you.  I don’t know you.  I certainly don’t love you.  If it’s any consolation I don’t hate you either.  I just feel nothing really, but a teeny smidgeon of dislike and an occasional dollop of sympathy.  You’re a bloke who gave me some ridiculously annoying genes and who tried to be a dad, but failed.  That’s all you are to me. That’s all you’ve been for a very long time. I do pity you though and however much I loved my nana I know that her mental health issues must have affected you deeply; it’s the only reason I can think of for you being the way you are.  Yes, we’ve all seen that letter you wrote to Auntie [name retracted] when you were twelve.

Frankly I’m at the stage that I feel it would be easier to have no contact whatsoever.

Hallelujah. The day that I blocked you from my Facebook – and thus my life – created a feeling of blessed relief in my very core. I have suggested that Big Brother do the same.

Anyrate [sic] give my love to [name retracted] and the girls and tell them I wish them every success in the future.

That’s a lovely way to guilt-trip Big Brother. You don’t deserve to see those girls. They don’t need your vitriol in their beautiful young lives.

Love from your dad who has NEVER stopped loving and caring about you. xx

But who’s never really shown it, not properly. A dad who loved us would have known what was best for us as children and wouldn’t have caused so much angst and friction.

ps Sorry about all the “I’s” but it was difficult to avoid.

Why was it difficult? Why couldn’t you just put yourself in Big Brother’s shoes and see the world from his perspective. 

Your response could have been,

Hey Kids,

I’m genuinely sorry I was such a crap dad.  I can understand why you think I deserted you and why you all find it so difficult to love me, or even care about me.  I did some ridiculously stupid things and uttered some awful words, but I was hurting too and missed you all.  I’d like to make up for it now by offering you this massive apology.  I know the past can’t be erased, but I’d like to try and form some sort of meaningful relationship with you.

I know that I broke you all.  I know that I stomped on your little hearts until the pain was too great.  I’m sorry I threw the fact you didn’t come to my wedding in your face by making you have to look at that photo in the hall every time you visited, you know – the one with [name retracted] and [name retracted] as bridesmaids. I’m sorry I insisted on bringing [name retracted] to the hospital when the only person you really wanted there was your mummy.  I can do nothing but apologise for using you as pawns in the game of my life.  You deserved better.  There didn’t need to be a custody battle, I realise that now.  You were obviously always going to stay with your mum.  I just wanted to hurt her.

I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you when you were growing up.  I’m sorry I wasn’t there whilst you were running away to London, pulling knives on each other, screaming at your mum because of all the pain I caused, surviving abusive relationships, taking overdoses, being diagnosed with depression, sleeping around whilst searching for love, hurling china items at dining room walls, breaking bones, breaking hearts, falling in love, falling out of love, watching your husband nearly die …  I’m sorry that the neighbours had to step in and sort things out when your mum couldn’t cope with the emotional outbursts; it should have been me sorting it out.

I’m sorry I missed your graduation ceremonies.  I’m sorry that in pushing you all away I’ve missed out on seeing my grandchildren develop and grow.  I’m sorry that I didn’t love you in the way that I should have loved you.

I’m an idiot.  I put you through hell and then I just gave up on you.  I should have tried harder to stay in contact.  I was your dad, after all.

I’d like to be your dad again.  I’d like that chance.  But I do understand it may not be possible.

Dad x

But it should have been,

Hey Kids,

I’m sorry.

Dad x

Instead you wrote a self-pitying car crash of a message which once again proves that you just don’t ‘get it’.  It’s not all about you.  It’s about all of us.

Sorry – it’s one simple little word and it’s a word you have NEVER said.  You think it doesn’t apply to you, but it does.  Everybody you’ve ever pushed away (your children, your ex-wife, your step-daughter(/s), your sister, your brother, all of us) deserves to hear you say that one simple little word and we all reserve the right to hear it and then walk away.  Because if you haven’t said it yet, you’ll never say it and if you do say it now it’s just an empty, hollow word with no meaning. 

You only have yourself to blame for how the world turned out for you.  You could have righted the wrongs, but you chose not to.  We became who we are because of you and for that we can be thankful.  We are the strong, independent, successful, kind, family-orientated children of a beautifully amazing woman who has more good in her little finger than you can imagine. We value and cherish each other because of what we’ve had to endure as children and young adults.  If you hadn’t have deserted us (which you DID do) we wouldn’t be this close and this in love with each other. 

So perhaps deserting us (which you DID do) was the best thing you ever did.

I am sorry.  I am sorry that I lost my daddy when I was a little girl.  I grieve for that daddy sometimes.  The daddy who came later is one I can’t forgive and I’m sorry for that too because it’s not that daddy’s head which gets fucked up over it, it’s MY head which gets fucked up over it.

You have no idea of the pain you’ve caused us and I don’t think you’ll ever ‘get it’.

You are a Monster. 

You have to live with that, the Monster deep inside you.  We don’t, not anymore.

I’m sorry.

(In my first year at uni I saw a counsellor and we talked about you a lot. He suggested that I write you a letter to get all my feelings into the open.  I never did because I didn’t want to hurt you [oh enough, my belly hurts from laughing] but I don’t think you can be hurt because you only hear what you want to hear, and see what you want to see. So, it’s twenty years too late, but this is my letter to you. It’s been good to finally get it out. And I take back what I said about not hating you … I think I do hate you, but only a little bit. Mostly I still just feel nothing towards you. It may interest you to know that I am like you in many respects. Unlike you however, I have learnt to bite my tongue and choose my battles wisely. My battles with you are over; the war is over and neither of us have won.)