Danielle Nguyen


Danielle Nguyen

One of my greatest fears is to love someone who doesn't love me back but, we can't live life in fear, we just have to go out there and do what we gotta do.

I come from a broken household as many other children do. My mother raised me, she cared for me, she fed me, she took the extra steps to make sure I was educated and street smart. Basically, she did everything for me while my dad, was out of sight.

For years after my parents separation my dad's interaction with his kids was very limited. He would show up randomly from where ever it was that he was coming from, and we would spend two hours together eating at TK Noodle. We would sit and talk about superficial topics never touching upon the fact that he was no longer around, and then he would drop us off at home, and we would know it would be another X amount of months (or years) before we would see him again. For every Christmas and birthday, my brother and I would get one card each with a generic Hallmark written note on the inside, and a one-hundred dollar bill. When I was accepted to UCLA and UC Berkley I sent him and email, and received nothing back. When I turned 18, I received a card that said "Happy Birthday and Graduation, Bố ". When I sent him an email invitation to my High School Graduation, I never got a reply and he didn't show up. 

Every year after my dad left us, I grew to accept that he would be a fleeting presence in my life. I didn't let it affect me. I actually did quite well--I was an over-achiever. I was Intelligent, social, and well rounded. I figured early on, that if someone didn't want me in their life, I wouldn't make it hard for them to have me out. I let go of him and the idea of what a father should be very quickly.  

After about 3 years of absolutely no contact with him, I heard from my brother that he was trying to come back into our lives. I continued on with my life just as I always did, pushing his presence aside. But, life catches up to you. 


In 2013, my family went to Viet Nam. It had been the first time in a decade that my mom returned back to her homeland. Going back, things had changed. Infrastructure was built, development occurred, but the traditions still stayed the same. As such, we went to visit to my uncle (on my dad's side), since he was in the area, and it would have been disrespectful to not show face. Overall, It was an awkward exchange. I remember a lot of tip-toeing and polite talk (aka respectful bullshit as I call it). But in that exchange I remember one thing my uncle saying one thing that allowed me to finally come to terms with my true emotions about my relationship with my dad. 

My uncle said my dad was in Viet Nam about 3 months ago. He had fallen in love with a new woman and asked her to go to the States with him, but was rejected. He was smoking profusely and in an attempted to get him to quit, my uncle told my dad to think: 'What about your health this and your body that'. In response my dad said, "I don't have my kids anymore, I don't have a family anymore, all I have is this tobacco. "


In that moment, I came to realize that since the age of 13, my heart has been broken. I actually wasn't controlling my emotions, I was ignoring them. I also realized that the love I had for my father was unconditional. Even though he hasn't been around and never took responsibility in his role as a father, I still loved him as much as any daughter would love her father. Most of all, I realized that despite the fact that it was his choice to leave our family, no one should ever feel like they don't have anyone in their lives who love them, care for them, and support them. 

This year marked the first time I saw my dad in over 5 years (It did take some time for me to heal).  When I went to see him, I was so nervous. I didn't know if he would recognize me, what we would talk about, what I would feel. 

When I first saw him, he looked basically the same, but old. There were wrinkles on his face and bags under his eyes, but he was still the same person I knew from before. He still wore the same hairstyle, had the same laugh, would throw in some english words here and there, and it seemed like the only thing that changed was my ability to accept that while the relationship we will have will not be perfect, it was something.  And that's more than what it was before. 

Now, I see my dad a lot more often. I've come to understand him as a person and why he was how he was all those years. It's a lot more complicated than what I understood it as. I'm not trying to defend any parent who chooses to leave their children, but I'm just trying convey that every situation and choice a person makes is not black and white. There's always an array of reasons to every decision. He left because of his own reasons and now that I'm older I understand that with what he was dealing with, he wouldn't have been able to be a good father or husband. He's still dealing with the same shit now and I can only imagine how his life was all those years without anyone. Right now, I'm just so grateful to have moved on from the resentment, abandonment, and negativity I felt before. I'm happy be able to be in his life and be a person for him to rely on.

No one deserves to be alone. I just want to say, to those of you reading, if you ever find yourself in a situation like this, just know that it may be hard to compartmentalize your emotions from the needs of your loved ones but realize, that you could be the salvation a person needs to understand what happiness is again. 



Button-Up: American Apparel 

Tube Top: Amazon 

Trousers, Choker: Zara