The Butterfly Collection
The Butterfly Collection is a composition of letters that the women of 100 Other Halves each wrote to their fathers. Whether the relationship is positive, negative, or nonexistent, these women have poured their hearts and souls into each letter.
Each week, I will add two letters to the collection. I hope that you find inspiration in their masterpieces and are influenced to compose a similar work of art for your father.
To The Father that Left His Family,
There are a lot of questions that I want to ask you but I’m too afraid to hear the answer. I’m not even sure you know the answer and that makes me nervous. First, I want you to know that I love you with all of me. You are my first love and my first representation of what a man is and how he should act. But you let me down. When you left my mother, my brother and I for another family that crushed me long before I could even make sense of it. My family told that when I was younger, I would look for you every day. When you did come see me, from time to time, we would have so much fun together. I just knew you would change your mind and come live with us again. I would even pray to God that you would come back to us but you never did. I didn't understand why I wouldn’t see you for months and we only live 15 minutes away from each other. Why didn’t you come see me more often? Didn't you like spending time with me? You used to tell me how much you missed me but then you never called, never asked how I was doing in school, and you never came to any of my parent-teacher conferences. The only time you were involved in our academics was if there was a behavior problem. Then the few times you would come visit us, you would stay for a while, maybe argue with my mom, or fall asleep. It didn’t really feel like you wanted to be there. It felt like you were just completing a task for the day. As if it made you feel like a good father if you saw us once or twice a month but you weren’t really concerned with how the interaction went. But enough about that. I never realized how much our relationship, or the lack thereof, affected me and my relationships with young men until I got older. In every relationship I’ve been in, I’ve harbored so much baggage and anger towards you that it resulted in mistrust, insecurities, and dependence on the young men in my life. I would look to them for the kind of love I always wanted from you. I would wonder why they wouldn’t want to spend more time with me if they liked me. This is the same way I used feel about you. Everything I thought I needed from them, I really needed from you. Throughout my childhood I had to piece together the past in order to understand what really happened with our family. There were always a lot of gaps that I had to fill in myself. I would think, “maybe I wasn’t good enough for you to stay” or “maybe your other family was better” or “maybe you loved them more than you loved us.” I felt worthless and confused. I realized as I got older that although you made many mistakes in your life, you are merely human and that I needed to forgive you if I wanted to move forward in life. I didn’t want the mistakes that you made in the past to overshadow me and cause me not to succeed in life. I couldn’t attribute my failed relationships to you because that would be me not taking responsibilities for my own actions. I had to learn how to love myself even if a man didn’t show me love and affection. I had to be strong for myself. So I forgive you dad, with all of my strength, I forgive you. And I pray for you every day. I truly believe that you love my siblings and I but don't think you understand how to love the right way. Because of our relationship, I know how I don't want to be loved and I can be confident in knowing that I am enough. More importantly, I don't need to settle for words but to check the actions of someone who says they love me.
I was hurt so badly thinking that you didn’t love me all of these years but I choose to focus on loving myself and the love that I feel from those around me. Because of this I am a stronger, more confident woman and I am growing and changing into the woman I aspire to be every day.
I love you Daddy.
-The caterpillar that Morphed into a butterfly
to The Social Media Present but Emotionally Absent Father,
Maybe if social media existed years ago I could have connected with you more. Because it sucks that I see you more on my timeline than in person. I hear from you more in my comments than over the phone. Maybe if social media existed years ago, I could have known more about you. Maybe if your life was as open as your social media page, we could've connected more. Do you know how many birthdays I waited up for you to call me and say happy birthday only to hear from you the next day or days later? Do you know how I felt not being able to attend, nor wanting to attend, my high school's Daddy-Daughter dance my freshmen year? I stare(d) in awe every time I see a girl and her father - envying their relationship. Do you feel anything when you see fathers with their little princess - or are you numb to it? I missed out on a lot of lessons from not having you around - but I learned a lot too. Thank you for introducing me to my favorite foods when I was younger: Fruity pebbles, pop tarts, sunflower seeds and those 50 cent hot sausages from the corner store (I still love them all). Thank you for always taking me to feed the ducks on the weekends along the river. Now, my favorite places to hang out are by harbors, beaches and streams. Thank you for always asking me if I've found my Prince Charming every single time you visited me because before I could take any boy seriously, I would consider whether or not he could be my prince. Thank you for showing me the power of resilience. Thank you for embracing me with open arms and love when we see each other, to this day - I always feel like that 4 year old little girl running into daddy's arms.
I wonder if you read this letter amongst 99 others... would you know this one was written to you?
Thank you for loving me, even if it was from a distance. I hope that we can get closer now that I'm older. I miss you. I love you. I have so much more to learn from you.
-The caterpillar that Morphed into a butterfly
TO THE FAITHFUL FATHER OF 6 BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS,
I cannot imagine my life without you. I am so grateful to God for you and thank you for all that you have done and are still doing for me. It still amazes me how you and mom were able to raise six beautiful girls and make sure that each and every one of our needs were provided for. You invested in us, made sacrifices for us, and showed us unconditional love daily. Because of you, I am the talented and hard working woman that I am today. I thank you for my talents and gifts. I thank you for sacrificing and giving of your time and money to invest in my future. I thank you for valuing me 24/7 and for showing me my worth. You taught me the importance of purity, patience, and perseverance. You named me, "Faith" because you knew I was called to live a life full of faith despite whatever trials or difficult circumstances were thrown my way. Thank you for always telling me to keep the Faith that I can achieve anything and everything in God's will, way, and time. Thank you for being my comedian who always tends to make me smile and laugh to brighten up my day. You taught me never to give up and to treat others with love and respect, even if they do not give it to me in return. I appreciate you for always keeping it real, for your integrity, and for your honesty. For as long as I can remember you have never ceased to support me, encourage me, wipe away my tears, and tell me to leave it in God's hands. I stay amazed at your charisma and how you know someone wherever we go.
You're not just a father to me, your title goes as far as faithful husband, committed father, good preacher, loving brother, caring son, and most importantly a true friend that I can lean and depend on.
I love you forever and always.