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From One Father to Another: A Letter (Louis Toliver Jr-Swartz, LA)


Dear Dad,

I hope this letter finds you. I am writing this letter to let you know that I feel amazing.

I am strong.

My life was once plagued from twenty years of both physical and emotional abuse that led to severe depression, insecurity, and self-hate. You were an abusive man. But, I want let you know that everyone has choices and you chose to magnify those qualities of your father that you hated. Those qualities would be the ones that were beaten into me during my childhood. You beat badly alot. You must have been mad about something else. One beating was so bad that there were several slashes across my body, many on my back. They were deep enough to bleed. Momma returned home shortly after the scene. She was hurt to see how badly you had beaten me. It was July, but mom made me wear a sweater to church that evening. The choir director asked why I was laid on momma in the front row and not singing in the choir. Momma told her I was sick. I do remember that later that night, you examined my body, looking at the now scabbed wounds. You promised you’d never beat me that badly again, so sadly this just meant your fists. I thought when you and momma got a divorce was the best thing that ever happened. You even eventually moved to California. I thought I was free. You were gone. However, you still haunted me for years. I felt your presence, bought into the fear you instilled in me. For some time, I fell into unhealthy ways, anything to abuse my body. I wanted to soothe my wounds, those deep emotional wounds that remained. I was used to it. Then one day, I let go. I realized that I was given you too much power. One day I realized, that if I ever were to have a child that I would never abuse them. One day, I realized that I had to learn from you. I had to be a bigger man than you. Through that abuse, my skin was weathered and my mind has overcome. Even though you abused me badly as a child, I realized that I could turn those beatings into something positive.

Now, I have 3 beautiful sons. I have never physically or emotionally abused them. They will never grow up to fear me. For me, to learn from your mistakes is to not become you. So, I have to thank you, because I have learned so many things about what a man shouldn’t be. 

Best Wishes,

Your Son

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