Dear Naive 15,
You're ignorant as Hell.
You dress in baggy blue jeans, wear an oversized hoodie every day, and never let your hair down. Students at school, and even your mom, think you're gay… and you don't even know.
All of your classmates blame you for a burn book that circulated after that Mean Girls movie. Everyone thinks you're a jealous bitch and secretly they mock you. How can you not see that?
Your teachers are all positive that you cut yourself and that you're always on drugs. Even now you have no idea why they ask you to take your jacket off during class. Could it be that you always wear long sleeves?
It's okay, sweetheart. I had to find out the hard way, too.
Right now you're probably wishing your dad was home. He's the only one that will read your stories and tell you how creative you are. You don't have to beg him to watch movies with you, and he'll listen to your favorite songs without calling you suicidal. Right now, living with your spiteful sister, emotional mother, and self-indulgent stepfather - you probably think your dad is the only one that loves you.
But he's not there, is he?
For some reason unbeknownst to you, he's serving his last few months of a 3-year prison sentence. He writes to you every day and reminds you that you're loved. Have you ever thought to ask, "Why he's there in the first place?" Even now I don't understand why it never occurred to you. When you're nineteen years old and your sister tells you that your Uncle Jerry passing away at the same time your father went to prison isn't a coincidence… you'll wonder why you never asked, too.
Pretty soon your sister will admit something else. Your father isn't the paragon you imagine. He cheated on mom. It's okay though, he still loves you. Right now he's probably making promises. He promised you, your sister, brothers, and your evil step-mother that he will never drink again. Here's the good news: when he gets out of prison you'll finally have someone to lean on. The bad? It's not going to last.
I'm sorry, sweetheart. He's never going to stop drinking. He'll drive your stepmother away and ruin his already broken home. I know it's hard to hear this, but it's his fault. For the next few years you're going to defend him. Everyone will talk down about him and say that he deserves everything he got. You're going to scream, rage, and deny what you cannot understand. But it's not your fault; I know now that he didn't tell you what he told everyone else.
Your brothers, even though they're younger than you, knew why he went to prison. Your siblings all knew that he cheated on your mother, and that the reason you never knew your grandfather was that he was a sex-offender. Even now I wonder, "Why didn't he tell you?"
I know you love him more than anything, Naive 15; but let me tell you what happened to Budding 18. I remember it fragmentally. You were in college and you were asking your dad for money for a tattoo. You decided to waste your scholarships on a private school and move five hours away from him. It was hard, but you were making friends who didn't know about the burn book and didn't care if you liked girls.
You were sitting in your dorm room with your favorite hoodie and your baggy blue jeans and your roommate was inquiring about your grin. Your dad promised to send you the money, but that's not why you were smiling. You smiled because you got to talk to Daddy.
The next day was probably one of your worst. You were sitting on the grass in the commons; everyone was dressed in purple and your best friend was painting a horned frog on your face for the upcoming football game. For once you felt loved by someone else.
And then your phone rang.
You didn't understand why your stepmother was calling you. She never called and you both mutually hated each other. But she had to be the one to tell you. The phone call lasted around two minutes.
"I told your dad to tell you. He was supposed to yesterday when he called. I'm sorry…" She's never said that and she'll never say it again, "Your dad's back in prison."
You cried. You screamed and begged to know, "Why he didn't tell you?" The very question you should have asked for eighteen years suddenly wouldn't shut up. You went home without finishing a single year of college. It's not your fault; you didn't understand.
You're going to think that he hated you. You're going to wonder why he couldn't tell you all of these things. You'll wish he loved you as much as he loved everyone else.
It was a hard lesson to learn.
But eventually, Naive 15, you'll know the truth. You'll realize that even if you are gay, it's no one's business. When you find out that everyone blamed you for a burn book you didn't even know existed, you'll have a good laugh about it. And you'll enjoy revealing to your old friends that you've never touched drugs in your life, and a blade has never cut your skin purposefully.
But most importantly, you'll realize why Daddy didn't tell you.
You were the only one who truly loved him. And as Wizened 21 learned through a long night of talking and a few beers… he never meant to hurt you. He just wanted you to keep the image in your head of a father that sang lullabies from Disney movies, and could never hurt anyone...
- especially not you, Naive 15.
Yeah, you're ignorant as Hell - but that's why you're loved.