Thank you. I know that may seem a little strange as I don't talk to you anymore unless I have to. I leave the door open to talk about Annabelle, and I do hope you're doing well in your life, but I know that I don't exactly invite discussion in general.
Next month is a year since I saw you last, and I still do dream about you sometimes, both about the good things, and the bad. I dream about silly songs, and watching you dance with a newborn Annabelle in the early hours of the morning. I dream in glimpses of who you were when you contained the broken, the angry, the hurting you. I think I still love that man, and I probably always will. I'm not sure you can ever shut that off completely, though I often think it would be easier if I could.
I owe you thanks.
You taught me that even when my world is ripped apart, I can move forward, that from the depth of horrors I can rebuild. You made me find my own strength, and learn to lean on it more, you made me challenge my idea of what was right, vs what was familliar and comfortable. Realizing that those things didn't match up was a very hard time in my life. I knew who I was when I was with you. You reinforced that I was nothing more, I didn't ever really have to think. In some weird way, that gets kind of comfortable. Some days I wake up and I have all these choices, and it's oddly overwhelming. I want to make you your coffee, and wake Annabelle up, and simply be in those moments, but then I remember, and I never want to go back.
You taught me that sometimes I can't deal with it all on my own. After everything, I spent several months talking with a pretty amazing therapist (yes, I know you'll scoff, as it's a 'cop out', or some way of looking for attention- and I guess that for you those perceptons are real and valid, but they are not my own.) You showed me that I have a lot of people who truly love and care for me, friends and family I'd left behind as you pulled me in to your world more and more deeply, carefully cutting my ties with everyone else so it was easier for you. I hurt them a great deal in that time, and still they love me, and accept me, and welcome me into their lives. Thank you for teaching me how much I am worth to so many people.
As you told me my dreams were stupid, some small essential part of me knew more deeply than ever that I needed to follow them. Rebelling at being set aside, this small corner of myself has grown into something greater. I'm playing music again, I'm taking chances and making good things happen in my life. I'm following my hopes and trying to make things work. Who knows where the journey will lead- for now I'm just happy to be following the path, it's never boring.
Thank you for teaching me how deeply I can love my daughter, how far I will go for her, how much I will do, how intensely I will try to create her world for her. I've watched her ache more over the past year than you will ever know, she knew you when you left her life, and she'll always remember moments, but that's all that's left. Much as my dreams of you dancing with her, they are glimpses of wonderful moments, and I hope she will always remember you in that way. She doesn't understand why you aren't around, and I will never say a bad word about you in her presence. She gets mad at me sometimes, and screams for you still, but you are only a concept to her now, not a real person. I hope she only ever remembers the good, and that in her eyes you will always be the white knight somewhere in the distance waiting to come to her defense against the discomforts of the world, even when my enforcing bedtime is the horror. I hope you can always be her dream of something better, and that reality never colors her thoughts about who you are.
You've taught me how good I can be as a parent, that I can help her to become a better person, that alone, I can make things good for her. I've watched her over the past year turn from a toddler into a kid, opening her mind, her heart, her everything in a new way to the world. She's become more gentle since it's just been us, she hugs more, and is more compassionate. I don't know if that's simply because she's gettng older, or because I've been guiding her that way, but it's beautiful to watch, and I'm blessed to be a part of it.
You've taught me about life, and relationships, and self worth. You made me learn that I deserve to be loved, and respected and treated well. I haven't been so good about that over the past months- I kept falling back to the thoughts I learned from you, but I am getting there now. I deserve not to be put down for my thoughts, and told I'm stupid for my opinions. You've taught me to appreciate it when someone cares about me in a way that scares me and is sometimes uncomfortable. I feel myself being dismissive sometimes, and pulling away from him with a joke, and I hear echoes of you in my voice, and I know he deserves better. I know what it is now to be respected, and simply loved for who I am, even when I don't agree with him. You've taught me the importance of letting him know I care for him, and of letting him care for me. In an odd way you taught me more about love by hurting me than I could have learned without that pain. Hard lessons, but I truly wouldn't take them back if I could.
For as much as I've hurt and as hard as it's been, for as much as I blame you and lose myself in anger, for as much as I've wanted it all to magic away, I know myself better now. I know my strengths, and more openly confront my weaknesses. I've remembered to appreciate the people who are positive influences in my life, and cut out those who aren't.
I don't think you ever wanted to hurt me, I don't think that was your goal when you set out. I think that you carry around your own pain, deeper than I can understand, and wounds that will never heal until you choose to let them. I'm sorry for that, and I would take away the pain if I could, and help you to be happy, but I won't lose myself in the effort. I know that in the end I am not responsible for making you happy or sad, or for softening the anger, or quieting the rage. I am responsible only for making sure that I value myself and my daughter enough that we don't have to have them in our lives. I have an obligation to teach her to love, and to be whole, and you've taught me to do that better than I could have if you hadn't been in my life.
I'll always care for you, and the door will always be open if you want to simply be involved in Annabelle's life, but I know now that you won't walk through it. You're ok with who and where you are, and while that saddens me because I think you deserve to know better, and to be loved, and cherished, and to be able to be a parent to her- and let her know you instead of being some mythical knight in shining armor... to be able to see the tears fall, and the smile just for you before bed at night, I'm not the one who made you lose it all- you made the choice. It's been nearly a year, and the damage done can't be undone, but I know that I've made the effort, and I know that for now at least, you will simply be the foggy memory in the night, maybe for both of us, but we can never go back, and honestly, I don't ever want to.
I love you for those good moments, and I will always have those memories, but my hopes and dreams are no longer yours to crush, they are my own, to nurture as I want, to share with someone who wants to share in them. You'll probably always be a hero in Annabelle's mind, but I am and always will be her parent, and even when she's mad at me, I'm ok with that. I see who she is becoming, and I know that I am the one whose hand she reaches for along the way. I am the one who will always be there, no matter who else may come and go in her life.
Thank you for leading me to the life I have now, and for showing me how wonderful, strong, and hopeful I can be. You've taught me everything you hoped I'd never know.