An open letter to my father

Dear dad,

Fifteen years is a long time. A lot has happened. A lot of good things, a lot of bad things. But you’ve missed it all.

It’s not your fault though; I know that now. I was angry, but I’m not anymore. I haven’t been for a really long time now. How can I possibly be angry at you? I’ve been in your situation, and I’ve wanted the same things you did. It didn’t work out the same for me though, obviously. I talked about it, worked through it, and came out the other side. I wish it had worked out the same for you.

Men don’t talk about things; I know. I also know that everything you did had the best of intentions. Maybe you didn’t see what you were doing was wrong. You were trying to keep everybody happy by not telling them how you were feeling, right? Yeah, I do that too. All the time, actually. I laugh louder than anybody in the room, but I’m probably hiding some of the darkest thoughts and feelings in the room too…

You were trying to deal with finding who you really were, which is difficult enough. But that feeling of worrying that you would turn everybody else’s lives upside down if you came out is only added pressure and heartbreak. I guess you thought this would hurt less. It didn’t, but you didn’t know that. I’ve gone through the same, though. Coming out as bisexual was terrifying. I had friends who told me they didn’t want to be around me anymore; they were weirded out by me. And times have changed now, they’re more accepting. Back then? Perhaps you felt like you would bring shame on you and the family. You would have got through that though. I would still have loved you. I would have been so proud of you. I am still proud of you.

I know it’s not the only reason though. You did a bad thing, and the consequences scared you. I get why you did it, but that was still wrong. But when you’re already feeling that low, the line between right and wrong is blurred. I know that, too. I’m not excusing what you did, but I know why it contributed to your situation.

People say what you did is selfish. I hate that. You weren’t selfish. You weren’t a selfish man. You were ill. They forget that. You weren’t in your right mind, and your mind does strange things in your situation. You can’t make decisions for yourself or anybody around you, and you can’t see any other way. I’ve been there. I don’t even remember what brought me out of it, I’m just grateful that it did. I wish something like that had happened for you.

I want to help people understand those in your situation, dad. I want them to realise that people contemplating this option are not thinking clearly. They feel trapped, lost, abandoned; but most of all, they think what they are going to do is what is best for everyone. I want to tell people that no matter what you have to do, make sure people suffering know that life is not better without them, that it’s not best for anyone.

Dad, you inspire me every day. You inspire me to keep going, and to share your story, my story, our story. If I can help one person think twice about their decision, I will have achieved something huge. I won’t stop fighting for understanding and tolerance. I’ve suffered in the same way, and I want to help others. It’s me and you, fighting stigmas and opening eyes.

I hope I’m making you proud. People tell me I am, but how would they know? I can just do my best and hope you’re proud of it. I mean, I’m at uni. I’m doing well. My mental health isn’t great, but it never has been. It’s better now than it has been in the past though. Onwards and upwards. I’m raising awareness and fighting for acceptance for all kinds of people like us. One day we’ll get there.

Dad, I’m not angry that you killed yourself. If I’m angry at all, it’s because the help you needed wasn’t made available to you. No one saw any signs. That’s changing now, though. People are spotting it and people are taking action, but there is still so far to go in terms of the mental health stigma. Government funding, NHS waiting lists, expensive treatment etc. doesn’t help, but we’re fighting in the names of the victims. I’m fighting for you. 

I love you now as much as I ever have. You are the reason for everything I do, every single day. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of you. You’re still a huge part of my life.

I hope that you found the peace you were looking for.

All my love,

Beth

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