Let me begin by saying that I must call you father because, in my opinion, the term father in it’s simplest term means contributor to birth. You contributed to my birth. I can’t call you Daddy because the word Daddy, in my opinion, is a term that is earned throughout the life and relationship with a child and father. In clarifying that, I will begin. I forgive you. I forgive you for the emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual, and mental abuse that I suffered at your hands. I forgive you for every Saturday night that you left my mother alone in the kitchen cooking your food while you “went out with your friends.” I forgive you for making my mother and I catch the city bus while your car never left the parking spot. I forgive you for making my mother feel like she was everything except beautiful, loved, and needed. I forgive you for turning your children against one another instead of teaching them how to unite with one another. I forgive you for missing so many of my milestones and graduations that in the end, I decided that they weren’t important enough for me to go to. I forgive you for knowing nothing about my children. I forgive you for not knowing or seeking my physical address. I forgive you for all of the birthdays that you decided weren’t important enough for you to tell me Happy Birthday. I forgive you for the Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings that you made my sisters and I clean out your closet before we could eat or open presents. I forgive you for telling me that I was worthless, I would never amount to anything, and I was lower than the dirt upon which I stood. I forgive you for telling my mother that you didn’t have enough time to see her when she called you the night before she died. I forgive you for making me feel like my mother should have had an abortion instead of deciding to give me life. I forgive you for all of the days that you reached for your gun, thereby, causing my mother and I to seek shelter from your rage. I forgive you for every open door, missed laughter, and words of support that you never gave. I forgive you for having more interest in my ex-wife than I did. I forgive you. I forgive me for trying to prove you wrong for so long that I never quite learned how to treat me right. I forgive me for harboring a pain so deeply that it directly interfered with my ability to be a good friend, boyfriend, husband, and dad. I forgive me for viewing the glass half empty. I forgive me for hating the you that I saw in me each time I looked in the mirror. I forgive me for every woman that I resented and slept with at the same time while seeking a physical ointment for my wounded soul. I forgive me for going to church each week with a grudge against God for choosing you as my father. I forgive me for every lie that I told because I was ashamed of my truths. I forgive me for never truly maximizing my potential because a part of me believed you. I forgive you. I forgive me. You did teach me some things. You taught me that even though I am your son, I am not your choices. You taught me that God is real. I learned that through many nights of loneliness and fear. You taught me that even in the presence of pure rage, love is far more powerful. (I’d like to thank my mother for that.) Running from you taught me how to run against the wind. As a Black Man in America, I’ve had to do that most of my life. You taught me that I must learn to be self-reliant because following the death of my mother, I am on my own. You taught me how not to speak to my kids. You see, for a very long time, you and I had quite a bit in common. To this day, I can’t sleep without the assistance of sleeping pills. Without the pills, I find myself pacing the floor contemplating every heart I ever broke, every lie I ever told, and ever opportunity I watched pass by because I never felt worthy. I’m still dealing with the nightmares. I’m writing this letter to you because this is my way of letting go of a pain that I’ve been holding on to for over 99% of my life. I’m letting you go so that I can make make room for three things, God, Love, and Me. I’ve held on to you for far too long. You see, I learned how to ride a bike on my own. I am really good at roller skating. I’m a decent cook. Like my mother, I’m a neat freak. I take pride in the way that I look today. I go to the gym five times a week. Although few, there are some people out there who really love me despite my sometimes frequent inability to love myself. I love writing. I’m a GREAT teacher and professional. My favorite football team is the Dallas Cowboys, and I think that I am one of fifteen New York Knicks fans. My favorite color is blue, and my favorite film is Forrest Gump. I graduated from college a few times. I think for the first time in life, both myself and my mother are free of you. I wish I would have gotten the opportunity to know you, and in turn, you knowing me. However, those cards weren’t meant for me. During this next phase of my life, I am going to look at the world with new eyes and a new understanding. For the first time in my life following the death of my mother, I want to let you know that I choose happy. Although broken, I am mending. I’m learning how to love. I learning how to accept free, and I am finally learning how to accept me. You see, my forgiveness has nothing to do with your asking for it. My forgiveness has everything to do with me needing to remove these chains that have scarred my neck and soul simultaneously. Despite everything that you did, your son now stands as a man. I hope my computer doesn’t break due to all of the tears that are falling inside the keys. If it does, it doesn’t even matter. I declare today, October 28, 2017 my new birthday. Today, your son is reborn into a new and unfamiliar state. Today, I am free. Today, I am free.