Every Father’s Day, I want to be the daughter who says, “Hey dad, I did it without you,” or, “Thanks for nothing,” or, “I never needed you anyway.”

Since my dad has been in and (mostly) out of my life ever since I was a child, I am very good at living without him. I’d be even better at it if I had no memory of him, but because he was with me for the first 10 years of my life, I remember what it was like to be loved and cherished by him. He wasn’t perfect, but he was my daddy.

After my parents split up, I didn’t see him for years. When we finally reconnected, it was as though missing pieces of my heart, my identity, and my self-esteem had been restored. Time proved his efforts to be less than half-hearted, and my life since then has had periods spanning years without contact with my father.

I always thought I would get to the point of true indifference until a friend asked me what I would say to my dad if I wrote him a letter. I thought this question was easy to answer. I would tell him he missed out. And I’d tell him that I never needed him in the first place. I’d tell him everything is fine in spite of the fact that I haven’t seen him in a long time.

I thought about all the other people I’ve met throughout my life who didn’t see much of their dads. Would they say the same thing? Would we write out our anger and disappointment and resentment? Maybe. Or maybe, from the depth of our hearts, it would sound more like this: