Dear Dad

I spoke with Dr. Stark today, our school counselor, and she said that I may be "suppressing my feelings" and, instead, I should be venting and just saying what I've been going through.

She gave me an assignment (yay me, right?). She told me to write a letter to the one person who has had the most effect on me, the one person who has let me down on so many levels.

I'm sorry it had to be you.

While Dr. Stark and I were talking about how I feel when I'm in your presence, I realized one thing. It wasn't fear or nervousness or any of that kind of shit that most teenage guys feel when they're around their fathers. Instead, it's something much worse.

It's pressure.

The pressure to do right, to be right. The pressure to not disappoint. The pressure to keep you happy because God forbid you get mad…

I'm so angry, Dad. All the time now. I can't think straight. I can't focus on my tests, I can't smile when I'm with my friends, I can't even seem to get my relationship stable with Mia. And again, I'm sorry, but that's all on you.

You never liked Mia. I understand that. I do not accept that; I will never accept that, no matter where my relationship with her goes, but I do understand that you're a bit old-fashioned and her father scammed some money from you back when you guys were young, but I can't see how that is any of Mia's fault.

Truth is, you never gave her a chance. Never even tried to like her, to accept her. If she were Josh's girlfriend, I'm sure you would've done anything in the world to put the past behind you and accept her into your life. But no, this isn't your older son. It's me. The kid who came last. The kid you didn't even want, but it just happened, damn-it!

Yeah, that's right. I heard you talking to Mom a few weeks back.

What was that for, remind me? Oh, that's right. It's because I refused to go to the dance with the 12 year-old neighbor.

Remind me again, Dad. Why did I refuse to do that?

Oh, wait, that's right! Because I already have a girlfriend.

But you know what the worst part was? That dinner you arranged. The night before the dance. Suddenly, I hear a doorbell and it's that 12 year-old neighbor. I look at her confused, and she tells me that you invited her over for dinner. And then dinner comes, and the whole time you keep smiling at me and her (whatever the hell her name is) and you attempt to make small-talk, throwing a few jokes here and there of course not without randomly stating how much I love to "party".

I don't remember ever being as mad as I was that night. You knew I was taking Mia. You knew that, Dad, and yet there we were on that dining-room table "dining" with some b*tch who was so "easy", by the way.

Sorry for the language, Dad. But, once again, you forced me.

Dr. Stark made me realize how much I've given up for you.

Like writing. Which I always loved. I didn't care how "nerdy" or "unsociable" it might have made me during the first few years of high school because you know what? I freakin' loved it.

And you made me stop.

You would see me typing on my computer and literally yell at me to stop and go out and play hoops with Josh instead. Yes, I get it. Sports is important, blah-blah-blah. But if there's anything I've learned the past few days is this:

I don't care how weird I might be. This is me. And you're supposed to accept me no matter what.

I mean, it's a rule, right? You're my father. You're supposed to support me no matter what.

I'm so angry.

Because there's so much you don't know. So much you think you know, but you don't. I wish I could tell you, but I can't. It violates the "brother-code" I have with Josh.

He's not as perfect as you think he is. Put that in your head, p-leaasee.

And about my best friend David…who you hate.

First off, let me start by thanking you for making it very obvious to him that you can't stand his freakin' guts. Really made my friendship with him so much more interesting.

Perhaps that's what drew me to him even more. You pushing me away from him.

Because he was gay.

Did you think by hanging out with him, I was gonna become gay too?

I'm trying to understand you, Dad. I really am. But David has been there for me in ways that no one else in my life ever has. Right now, he's probably the only one I can trust.

Even God I can't seem to trust anymore. You know why.

I've snuck out of the house literally over a hundred times. I'm not even kidding. It's literally definitely over a hundred times. Before, I used to sneak out to go to David's house. Then when he introduced me to Mia, I started sneaking out to go to The Diner, where we would double-date.

Me, Mia, David and…wait for it…yes, his boyfriend.

On one hand, Dr. Stark made me realize that you had a really rough childhood growing up. I get that, Dad; I do. You had to take care of all your brothers and sister when Grandma and Grandpa died really young. You had to step up. You worked day and night, sacrificed all your dreams, your life, everything

I get that. And I still don't understand how you did it. It amazes me. You amaze me.

You do. I think so highly of you. This is why I had to vent, this is why I chose you to write this about.

Because I have you up on a pedestal.

Had*.

But you kept on putting me down, day after day, year after year. I suffered from depression, did you know that? Of course you didn't. You were too busy looking after Josh and making sure he gets into a good college. And I'm not saying "what about me" or "why couldn't you have given me that attention" but…

I have had so much anger inside of me for so long.

Dr. Stark told me that I had to forgive you, to let you go, to move on. Because staying angry has done nothing to me. And apparently forgiving you is a key to freedom.

And that's what I want now, Dad.

Freedom.

So here it goes…

Are you ready?

Take a deep breath.

Done?

Okay, prepare yourself…

Here it comes…

Dad…

I FORGIVE YOU.

I really do.

Now, please come back. God took you way too early.

We all need you here. I need you here. So much.

I have to go get a tissue, clean up the mess I've made with my tears. And then I have to go get dressed.

I'm going to your funeral.

I love you, Dad.

Goodbye.