Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Dearest daughter,

Tried so hard to model myself on Atticus Finch for you.
Ended up being Boo Radley instead.

(sigh) So it goes.

Lost and Alone

Dearest Daughter,

Well, I f*cked up again. I think. Who the hell knows anymore.

I am presently in the process of dragging you kicking and screaming through your science project (which I am mostly completing) so you can finally climb out of the failing grade pit you have been in all year (mostly due to bald-faced lying to me about your school-work since October. So since it is due in three weeks, we're a little behind).

But we managed to get your grade up to where you finally got your phone back from your mother.

So of course the first damn thing you did was break the rules and continue using it after the 9:00 p.m. cut off. (And then lied about that as well). So when I took your phone back you resorted to your go-to solution of trying to bully me.. getting in my face and trying to be physically intimidating. And smirking while you tell me you don't have to do anything I say.

I warned you earlier in the week, that between still trying to recover from the flood and living in the middle of that shit-pile - and you changing up the schedule to avoid going to your Mother's, so that I've have zero time by myself to recharge for two fucking weeks - that I was going to start to come unglued. So it seemed like an ideal opportunity for you to get in my face at 10 p.m. and deliver a big ol' "fuck you". So you got slapped. Twice.

And oh sweet holy God how you did deserve it.

So now we aren't speaking. Again.

And you gave me back each and every deeply heartfelt note that I had written you and you, bless you, had kept. All the ones I've quoted here. All the one I wrote JUST FOR OCCASIONS LIKE THIS.
All the ones where I said "we've had fights. We will continue to have fights. And they will be terrible and hurtful and terrible things will be said and done, so I am writing you thins now so you will know that even though it will not seem like it at the time, I love you deeply and dearly, and forever."

I gave you those in the hopes that you would understand that things said in anger are nothing more than shadow-puppets. It is the quiet feelings - the ones I write down - that are the Truth.

But you gave them back. And I know you will accept no more from me, as I'm just a lying asshole in your eyes. And I have lost you (unless and until you want something).

Feeling so sad and lost and alone. And knowing you must be feeling even more so.. though your blind fury may balance out some of that. I don't know. I would dearly love to go have a drink. But I am already low enough in your eyes. No need to dig further down.

And although I do not expect you to ever be sure of it again....

Love you forever.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Living with the Enemy

Dearest Daughter,

I have lost you. Utterly. And not all the tears I have shed can make it one bit better.
You were being especially cold and cruel, and in the middle of it I said "I really don't think I like this person you're being."

And that was it. It could see it. I could feel it. All the careful, painstakingly thought out and heart-felt words I had said and written - words to reassure you that no matter what happened, no matter how angry we got with each other, I loved you and I would always love you - all of that was swept away in a minute. All of that will forever be classed in your mind as "more adult lies." And I can never fix it. And I have lost you utterly.

My heart is broken, and there is no place left for me to go.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Little Things

Dearest Daughter. In RL I am about to give you this letter I wrote. I don't like exposing myself this way, or if it will even make sense. But even if it doesn't at 13. Maybe it will now. I love you

Dearest daughter,

This is important. Which is why I’m writing it instead of saying it. First because if I say it I’ll get it all wrong. Second, if I say it I’ll go on too long and you’ll get bored and stop listening. In writing you can take a break J

I hope I can get this to make sense… it’s so important to me that this make sense.

First, I love you. (That’s always first). I love your Mom too, but she’s wrong on something (at least if she does what you say she does). She’s wrong to focus so much on the grade that she doesn’t give you appreciation when you’ve done a good solid day’s work. I understand why she does (she’s young) and please understand – I’m just as focused on your grade. BUT..

Little things are more important than big things.

I will say that again.

Little things are more important than big things.

Cause little things are where big things come from.

3000 years ago, a guy names Lao Tsu wrote a book basically on how life works. And one of the things he said was “take care of the little stuff – do it as good as you POSSIBLY can. Then relax. Cause then you’ll look around and find that the big stuff took care of itself.”

But people don’t do that. Not you. Not me. They look at the BIG thing and freak out. “OMG.. I HAVE TO TRAVEL 1000 MILES. HOW COULD I DO THAT? IT’S SO FAR!!!”

But Lao Tsu said forget the 1000 miles. Just take a step.

Cause that’s all 1000 miles is.. a bunch of little steps. Don’t think about the BIG picture. Just take a step. Cause anyone can take a step.

Then just take one more…

Get a rock and drop it. Do it enough, you’ve built the pyramids. Big stuff is ALWAYS just little stuff that you keep doing.


Honesty time – your Dad is an alcoholic. Alcohol is just a legal drug, so it’s fair to say I am a drug addict.

I have been clean now for almost 11 years. But it was a hard addiction to break.  And I think about it every time you look at that “U” on your reports and say “It’s too much.. I’ll never be able to change it.”

Cause I know EXACTLY how you feel. It’s why addiction is so hard to break (well, one of the reasons). Because you look at YOUR WHOLE FUTURE….. YEARS AND YEARS, AND YEARS. And you think, I can’t do it. It’s too much. It’s too big. I can’t control myself FOREVER.

So you don’t.

That’s what they teach in recovery. “One day at a time” gets drilled into your head. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow doesn’t exist. Just today. So they say “Hey! Can you manage to not drink – JUST FOR TODAY? I mean, tomorrow you can do anything you want… but can you manage it JUST FOR TODAY?” And you  say.. “Uh. I guess. Yeah I can do one day.”

And the next day, you decide again. Can you do it just for that day. You never EVER think of all the other days… just today.

And then at some point you look around and go “dang! It’s been 20 years!”

It seems too stupidly simple to possibly be true. And yet… it is.

And I’m embarrassing myself this way (and yes, admitting my shame to you this way is VERY hard and VERY embarrassing) to make a point. When you’re in recovery and surrounded by other people trying to recover, if you’ve been sober for a year, they cheer.

If you’ve been sober for a month, they cheer.

If you’ve been sober for a week, they cheer.

If you’ve only been sober for a single day, that is only a tiny, tiny little success, right?

But guess what?

They cheer just as much and just as loud.

Because they understand better than anybody that a week, a month, a year, a decade – all they are…. are days.  Little tiny successes.

Little tiny successes that build up.

So when I tell you to work hard one day at a time. To just go in and focus your very best just for that day  I have a reason. 

I do want you to have a good grade. I do. But thinking just about the grade is too much. It feels like too much. And when it feels that huge, anybody would say “It’s impossible. Why try?”

But a day? Sure, you can do a day.

And when you do it…. When you come home and can say – yeah, I worked hard and focused today – please understand that my pride in you is VERY real. Not just words.

Then you go out and do another day.

Cause whether it’s a journey of a thousand miles, or building a pyramid, or winning the Olympics, or getting sober, or raising a grade… it’s the little things. The baby steps.

It’s one day at a time that gets you there in the end. AlwaysAlways

I love you so much,


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Strangers in a Strange Land

Dearest Daughter,

Adolescence is making thingsa bit rocky at the moment. (You've been grounded till the end of the month for example). And at some point recently I desperately felt like I needed to reach out to you about this strange land we are wandering through. And because I'm not adept at human speech, I wrote it down.

At the moment, you still have it (in fact you made a point to show me that you still had it, which pleased me more than I let on. We are both masters at telling each other things that matter while pretending that they don't). But by the time you read this I am sure it will be long gone. So I'll copy and paste it here.

I love you,


Dearest Daughter,

You have said that there’s no point in saying I’m sorry when I lose my temper because I’m just going to lose it again one day. And that’s true. That is unfortunately true.

But please never ever think I don’t love you. I love you so SO much. That has never changed – not in our darkest moments. And it isn’t ever going to. No matter how pissy I get, you know that I have always been there for you. And while it may be true that I lose my tempers sometimes when you don’t deserve it, you also know that even when you DO deserve it, I am always going to forgive you. Shoot, I keep doing stuff for you even WHILE I’m angry with you.

But here’s the thing: I’m scared. Just pants-wetting scared. And lost. Most all the time. I have NO idea what I’m doing. It is my job (the most important job I have) to keep you safe….. but at the same time give you the freedom to let you grow. AND I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO BOTH OF THOSE AT THE SAME TIME!!!

First part is easy – just lock you up and never let you out. Second part is easy – just toss you out the door and let you do whatever. But BOTH of them TOGETHER???

So I do make mistakes. I wake up almost every morning think “Ohhh. I should have done that SO differently. I could have done that so much better than I did.”

And I know that you are JUST as scared and lost in all this as I am. Because here’s the deal – we’re BOTH doing something we’ve never done before. I have NO IDEA how to be the parent of a teenager. And you have NO IDEA how to BE a teenager. We are both clueless and we are both nervous and neither of us really knows what’s going on and we are just bumbling through it all the best we can, making a ton of mistakes but trying so very hard to get it right.

But please never ever think, for all of my fumbling and fussing, that I don’t love you fiercely. Because I do, so very much.  (And the proof is the fumbling and fussing. I don’t get upset about things I don’t care about.)

I love you kid. Always have. Always will.

And it’s okay, because we are both going to get through this.

(also – I leave you alone in your room and hang in mine trying not to bother you because I know that privacy at your age is very important.

But that is the only reason. I don’t want you to mistake it for me not being interested in you or not caring about you. (There’s a reason I asked for your time as my birthday present). I was here for you before you hid away. And I will be here for you when you eventually come back.)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday, July 28, 2017


Dearest Daughter,

I miss you.

I can say that now, here. Because you won’t read this until years from now, when it no longer matters. I do not want you to feel guilty as I did, constantly listening to my mother and grandmother mourning how I used to be, as though my growing up had been a personal affront. And I do not now nor ever want you to slow up or feel shamed or apologetic for growing into a strong and healthy young woman. So I keep my mouth shut in the here and now

But God I miss you.

I miss the time we spent together. I miss every game we played. I miss every minute of the times you allowed me into the bright world of your childhood. I was grateful, for I knew it was a “limited-time offer” which would end. I just never counted on how fast it would go or much I would miss it - and the you you were then.

At the same time, I used to think that there were only two of you – child, and adolescent. And I’m starting to gain enough distance to recognize that that is not so. You were not one single person throughout childhood, but many.  One day, it was all about stuffed animals and setting up classrooms with them. Then it was all about Barbies and their relationships. Then it was all about making up dances. Then it was all about card games. Then it was all about…

And I can see now that each of those were not just changes of interest, but changes of you – demarcations of the fundamental shifts in your being. So where we are now is not something new after all… just the same dance we’ve always done, even if the music has changed.

Which is comforting.

So I miss deeply the closeness we once had, and the time I once was allowed to share with you. But I loved all your other selves – and survived their transitions. So there is no reason to think I won’t love all your future selves and all the future transitions just as well.

So go be who you need to be today. And change it all tomorrow if need be. Grow! And NEVER feel you have to apologize for it.

You old man loves you, no matter who you are.