Sometimes I wonder if I’ve actually forgiven you. Forgiven you for all of the hurt you’ve caused me … and more for all of the ways in which you hurt her and on these days … on these days, I think I’m just pretending. Pretending to have forgiven you because the pretense makes the loving easier. Pretending to have forgiven you because I have your face, and some of the best parts of you and all of the worst parts of you. And these bad parts are the reason I don’t think I’ve actually fully forgiven you. The reasons I know I haven’t actually forgiven you because I am afraid we might be the same. 

My father is not a good man, but he is good to me. Sometimes. And the good parts be the reason you want to hold on but I grew up with the face of a man I hated … the face of a man I was taught to hate and I cannot begin to tell you how long it took for me to love myself as a result. My father is the man in the shadows of my life, the ever-present hurt, the reason I fall in love with all of the bad men … because my father is a bad man and sometimes I cannot figure out if I love him despite it or because of it. Because how do you love the bad man except for when he is good to you and does being good sometimes negate all of the bad that he’s done?

My father exists in my life like cancer in a body and I tell myself there will be days like these. There will be days like these where sometimes the hating you feels a lot like hating me and days where the loving you feels the same. The will be days where I fall for the man who does not have your face and yet somehow appears to me in the same ways you do. Nonchalant and elusive at times. Demanding and destructive at others. There always and yet never when it matters. 

There will be days like these. Days where I realise I need no teaching on how to get hurt by all these boys because daddy I learned my best lessons from you. Days where I realise the trauma lives in the body. Days where the loving you be the trauma. Days where the wanting you to show up feels a lot like being in the desert dying of thirst and ain’t no water given. Ain’t no end in sight to this hatred or this hurt. Ain’t no boundaries to this pain

But then eventually the rain will fall or a girl turns woman and realises at some point it’s gotta stop being about how bad they fucked us up and it’s gotta just start being about us. And then there are new days. Days like these, where it’s about the healing of me for me. And the forgiving of you but for me because this body deserves more than trauma and this soul deserves peace. And now I don’t have to wonder whether or not I’ve forgiven you because instead I’ve forgiven myself for letting your hurt live with me in my home. Forgiven myself for repeating y’all’s mistakes. Forgiven the man I loved for loving me badly. Forgiven y’all for not raising us on love. Forgiven y’all for raising us on war and survival. Forgiven our parents for what they haven’t forgiven themselves for.