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Ezariyah Riel

Greendale Middle School, Wisconsin

Since I was three I was raised by my mom and step-dad. My father wasn’t really in my life and I only saw him once in a great while. When I was about three and a half, my father didn’t really come to see me. He moved to another state and only would see me whenever he visited his family. We would only see each other for a day. I was angry at him but I also felt sad that he left. Years went on and as I started to grow up, I would try to call him to show him how I felt, but it was hard to even talk to him without tearing up. Once I turned 7 years old, all communication stopped completely. I was devastated and heartbroken from feeling unwanted. Thankfully I did have my step-dad, who was with me since I was three. He is basically my father, the man I look up to and I’m so grateful to have him in my life.

When I was about 11 years old, my father moved from California back to Wisconsin. I thought it would be a good idea to start fresh so I agreed to see him and we hung out for a day. Deep down I hoped we would work on a relationship but that one day was all I got. Once again I was hurt and let down. Fast forward two years later during summer, when I was about 13, I sent him a message about how I felt. His reaction to my feelings was a coldhearted non emotional rejection. My mom then called him and had a deep conversation; she said that it was much overdue. Once she was done, she helped me talk to him about how I felt and he actually listened to me. I really needed him to just hear me when I told everything and I finally released everything I was holding back for all those years.

After that conversation a few weeks went by, then he reached out to my mom to see if I wanted to hang out with him. I was very skeptical about seeing him because I was worried to get let down again but I agreed to see him. After a few visits throughout the summer, my mom talked to him about setting something up more consistent during the school year that fit in everyone's schedules. The fear of building a relationship with him that could be gone in a blink of an eye based off the past always stays in the back of my mind. But now I try not to let it get the best of me. Now I am in my second quarter in school, and I have seen him every Saturday. He has been to most of my basketball games, and we are actually getting to know each other. This weekend is my birthday party which he will be attending and it is the first birthday I can remember (not looking at pictures) of him being there! I am very excited to have him in my life again but very cautious of my feelings. I have learned that it was not my fault my father left me and I know that I am enough even if sometimes I may have felt I was not by his actions. My mom and “step-dad” (who is more like my dad) as well as time helped me grow and understand his actions were just his actions and I couldn’t change them. I learned sometimes it’s okay to forgive but never to forget. So I will work on starting a relationship with my dad but never once will I forget who raised me, never left my side, and helped me through rough times. I am definitely very grateful to my mom and stepdad for helping me through this.

© Ezariyah Riel. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.