What I want you to know about having a drunk father

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by an anonymous reader.



It's midnight. I'm at the computer while my family sleeps, when suddenly my daughter's cries fill the house. She stumbles down the hall, her hands over her ears.

"I can't get it out of my head! That song! I can't get it out of my head and it won't let me sleep!"

"What song, baby?"

"Mr. Sandman! I can't get it out of my heeaad!"

I pick her up, so glad that she is still tiny and light. She wraps her body around mine, just as she has done since she was conceived. We sit on the floor in the semi-dark. "I'll just have to sing you a new song then." She embraces me tightly as I rock her and sing her special song, the song I've sung over her since she was new:

Magdalene Belle, Magdalene Belle,
silly little pretty little Maggie Belle
Magdalene Belle, Magdalene Belle,
silly little pretty little girl

I pray to erase the song that's tormenting her with a new song.

She melts into me. Her breathing slows. She's at peace.


"You're a bitch. That's what you are. You're just a stuck up little bitch."

I'm twelve years old. I'm in the parking lot of a Chinese restaurant. My dad is drunk. He picked me up from my friend's house drunk, and drove me here. He's usually passive when he drinks, but not today. He wants to go in the restaurant and act like it's a good day. I say I don't want to and he gets angry. I sit in the back of his old red Studebaker and stare out the window and try not to listen, try not to feel, try not to be.

It's not working.

"Bitch!"

This word spoken from my father hangs over me. It attacks my being like a virus. I hear it, I feel it, I believe it.

I become it.

I grow a little older, and I decide to embrace it, the fact that I am a bitch. In high school I see a bumper sticker that says Beyond Bitch and I buy it, put it on my car. This is who I am. I'm proud of it. Take it or leave it. Take me or leave me.

no, wait, please don't leave me

This is why girls don't like me. This is why boys break up with me. This is why I can't fit in. This is why my fists are always clenched. This is why I hate high school, I hate college. I hate most of my 20s. Things are okay for a while but it never lasts. My heart always ends up broken. Then I rock and cry and sing to myself that it's my fault, how can anyone love me, stuck up little bitch that I am.

Then I find a new Father.

And I hear a new song.

He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing...

And I don't believe what I hear.

My Father delights in me? Sings over me? Impossible.

I put my daughter back to bed but within seconds she cries out. "I still hear it! Don't play that song ever again!"

In the darkness I return to her. I reach into the top bunk, pat her leg, sing her song to her. I love her. So I will sing it as long as it takes, I will sing it until it is all she hears. My child sleeps.

One day, quite suddenly, it occurs to me. God does not think I am a bitch. He doesn't. He knows me, He knows me inside out, and yet He loves me.

I hear it. I feel it. I believe it. I embrace it.

I become it.

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