Dear Dad

I know it’s been over 3 years and the last thing I want to do is create any grief or discomfort in your life by contacting you like this.  However, I need to do this in order to move on and I hope you understand that my intentions and motivations are simply to apologize and to offer some explanation for my actions.  I wish you only the best and I sincerely hope that you’re healthy and happy. 

I take responsibility for moving away without contacting you and for my lengthy silence over the past 3 years.  However, I need you to know that at the time, I truly didn’t see any other options, and our decision to leave was the best decision to make despite the sacrifices.  I cannot explain all my reasons and thoughts, but suffice to say I am a happier, healthier, and better person because of my experiences. 

I owe you an apology for leaving without an explanation and I hope you can understand that my intentions were not to hurt or embarrass you.   This was a decision I had to make on my own, without any influences or pressure from others.   I don’t think you realize how much you impact me and influence my decisions when you express disappointment or disagree with my perspective.  However, as you well know, I am a very independent person and ultimately, I have to do what I’m going to do.  In the past, this trait hindered my maturity, but now I find it to be a very liberating quality as long as I take responsibility and accept the consequences of my actions.   

We don’t know each other very well as we have never truly been involved in each other’s lives.  Most people think I am a carbon copy of my mother, but I identify more with your personality and I feel like I share more traits with you.  Hopefully, that doesn’t offend you and I imagine that’s why we clash as I am quite certain I get my determination and bullheadedness from you.  Again, we never had a strong relationship and we rarely shared anything except during times of stress or celebration (mainly stress).  I think if you knew me better, you’d understand my actions and decisions better.

To go into too great of detail would take too long and I’m not even sure you wish to re-establish contact with me at this time, but I’d like to share some aspects of me that have greatly impacted the course of my life.  I know to some degree you are aware of my obsession and anxiety with sleep and dreaming experiences.  I don’t know if you realize that I have been experiencing awareness during sleep paralysis on a regular basis since I was a child.  In fact, I have records of describing sleep paralysis and the associated subjective experiences during this state when I was 12 years old.  I was almost 30 years old the first time I heard the term sleep paralysis and now I consider myself an expert on the subject, but I digress. 

Regardless of your opinion as to why I experience frequent sleep disturbances, I understand the process on a very personal and surreal level, and my obsession with researching the topic was the catalyst to learning to deal with these experiences and continues to aid me in reducing my anxiety and stress knowing that ultimately, I will deal with these terrifying (but sometimes uplifting) experiences for the rest of my life.  Although I prefer to call them vestibular disturbances, I also have frequent “out-of-body” experiences and can often predict when they will occur, feeling sensations of buzzing, head pressure, vibrations, etc. 

All of these things can make one feel quite insane, but there are explanations for these parasomnias and the main issue seems to be that I become conscious during normal biological processes that occur during stages of sleep, when I should be unconscious.  Since I’ve been recording and remembering these experiences since I was a child, and since my brother also shares some of these issues, I’m quite certain it’s a neurological difference and that I’m simply hardwired to be susceptible to REM disturbances.  I’ve also corresponded with some of the leading scientists in the field and one expert in particular was kind enough to offer additional resources and support. 

For most of my life, I believed that my sleep issues indicated a psychiatric problem, but that “belief” is just as damaging as it is to believe that one is having a paranormal or supernatural experience because it made me feel helpless, leaving me more vulnerable to negative experiences.  I recognize that the experience is subjective but the cause originates from a biological process. However, the “realness” I experience during lucid nightmares (which often incorporates or initiates sensations associated with sleep paralysis-choking, smothering, suffocating, intense pressure perceived as pain) caused a constant loop of chronic insomnia and sleep deprivation out of fear and exhaustion from not knowing how to deal with these experiences.   It wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve been able to find answers and relief, and for the first time since my early 20’s, I no longer need anti-depressants, anti-anxieties or prescription sleeping medication.  In fact, I recently quit caffeine and soda and completely changed my diet to continue to improve my sleeping conditions as this has been the key to finding peace of mind and a sense of security- two things I have spent most of my life without. 

There are many more things I’d like to share with you, and I’m not telling you this to make excuses for my actions.  I realize that I have irrational fears and issues with being unable to detach emotionally, causing me to cut off contact from people without an explanation. I’ve taken responsibility for myself and I do not blame anyone or feel unlucky for my experiences.  In fact, I am quite thankful that I have lived my life this way and dealt with issues both out of my control and those of my own creation.
I cannot explain myself fully to you as that would require us to know each other better.  I am very sorry for not acting more responsibly and I apologize if my behavior was selfish or seemed manipulative.   However, I feel quite confident in who I am and I know that I am neither manipulative or unappreciative of others.  I do understand that I confuse people with my behavior and that my social skills seem to swing indiscriminately from overly professional to strangely inappropriate, but there are reasons for my oddness. 

There seems to be a consistent theme with my biological make-up that greatly affects my personality: hypo- and hyper-sensitivity often causing a distortion of the senses.  Since perception is greatly influenced by the senses, I recognize that my perception of life has been somewhat distorted and greatly magnified.  Once again, now I find this to be an asset but I have a great appreciation for the difficult path it paved.   

If this letter comes across as a deliberate ploy or an act to gain something, I assure you it is not.  I sincerely want to take responsibility for not contacting you prior to leaving but I hope you can understand and possibly appreciate the enormous amount of fear and lack of trust I’ve carried for the majority of my life.  Even now, I have to deal with lucid nightmares focusing on death and intense fear. I still struggle with maintaining a sleep schedule and I recognize how crucial it is for me to take responsibility for my health and my sleep hygiene.   I also have become more reclusive and enjoy spending time by myself and require more time to recover after social engagements (which are exhausting as I am very aware of myself).

I’d also like to add that I’m fully aware that my attachment and obsession with my canine companions may seem pathological and unhealthy, but they have played a major part in my recovery and sense of security.  If you know anything about sleep paralysis and how it incorporates cultural beliefs (e.g., Old Hag Syndrome, Kanashibari), maybe you’ve heard of the intruder effect which is a more modern, urban belief.  I don’t fear ghosts or alien abductions because I believe in neither.  I do fear random acts of violence such as a home invasion or being assaulted by a dark, shadowy thug.  Sleep paralysis has a way of making the dreamer believe that someone is in the house and the sensation of pressure on the chest can create a subjective experience of being attacked or violated.  Even after learning of sleep paralysis and recognizing that I can use my awareness to make logical sense of things (i.e., ghosts don’t exist so I know if I see a ghost, I’m having an episode of sleep paralysis), it’s very difficult to let go of a logical fear and a need for self-preservation.  Once I recognized that the dogs would be barking if anyone or anything was near the house, I was able to start to let go of the fear.  There are still rough nights for me as the dogs frequently bark at random, non-threatening “entities” but I feel I have a better grasp on reality and a stronger sense of security with having three large dogs.  I wish you knew them as they have such dynamic and compassionate personalities.

To be clear, I am writing this letter in hopes that we can re-establish a connection and possibly pursue a relationship, but my main goal is to offer my sincere apology for any confusion, pain, embarrassment or anger I have caused.  I do not wish to live in the past and I harbor no ill feelings towards you, nor do I think you owe me an explanation for any family-related issues.  I have moved on and I have long recognized that relationships are hard and most don’t stand the test of time.  It’s rarely just one person’s fault and often, it’s just human nature to be in conflict with one another.  I just have a different perspective but I often find that it allows me to connect with a variety of personalities and appreciate the differences in cultures and lifestyles.  I prefer to have acquaintances to a lot of close friends.  I do not need to be reminded of how strange I am for being an adult obsessed with dreaming.  My obsession is a successful coping mechanism as a deeper understanding seems to be essential for navigating these particular types of sleep disturbances.  Also, my obsession is more of a fascination for the human brain and consciousness- not an attempt to label myself and fall victim to some disorder or perceived dysfunction. 

I’m not sure how to end this letter and I know there is more to say but I will leave it at this for now and hope for the best.  I do not know how to get past the anxiety of contacting you and I am uncertain if I can talk to you by phone yet.  I’m so concerned that I might say something wrong that I freeze up on the phone.  However, I will do my best to honor whatever form of contact you chose.  I also respect your decision not to contact me and I accept it as a consequence of the decisions I have made.  However, I have to let go of the guilt as I have accepted the decisions I’ve made and grown from the consequences.

Again, I am sorry for the unexplained and complete lack of contact and I hope we’re able to move past this and develop a relationship.   Either way, I respect your decision and I wish you only the best.