An Open Letter to My Parents
Dear Mom and Dad,
I have spent a great deal of time in therapy over the last two years. I have tried to make the best of therapy; allowing me to learn and grow as a person. But unfortunately, learning and developing means that individuals tend to learn about the dysfunctions of others because of the healing process.
I have learned many things about the two of you I don’t like. Sometimes loving people doesn’t mean liking or respecting them. It pains me to say that sometimes I feel like my role in the family is to make the two of you look like good people without putting in a lot of effort.
I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but I was a victim of harassment; sexual harassment. Someone sexually assaulted me in my teen years. I have debated not telling you, but you need to understand the depths of what I’ve been through to understand what I’m about to say.
You always told me to never to make a scene—always to look kind and pretty. You hid many of our issues as a family at the expense of Lucy and me. Growing up was particularly difficult for me because I felt continuously devalued. I feel as though, even now, you make most of my problems about you.
Your inability to think beyond yourself has affected me in many ways—throughout my childhood and, unfortunately, into adulthood. The years of gaslighting and consistently trying to save face caused me to have trauma I could not deal with at an appropriate time. In April 2019, I could finally start coping with trauma from things that happened when I was a teenager. However, I still hold on to resentment because of your lack of ability to step up to the plate and be parents. Choosing to have your heads in the sand rather than pay attention to your child. No kid cries themselves to sleep at night, won’t leave the house, and won’t use a public toilet for no reason.
I’ve spent two years searching my soul, trying to figure out if I could forgive you for putting me in a position where no one would listen to me. When things at home were bad, you always made me to look like a liar. The reality is I can’t. I have learned that silence is compliance. In a way, you forced me to stay silent; therefore, you helped the individuals who caused me all of this trauma to get away with it and become more skilled at hurting people. I often wonder who else they’re hurting now.
Mom and Dad, please note that I am not saying these things to be cruel to you, but instead, I want you to understand that you need help, and to get better from the things you’re dealing with, you need to seek professional help.
I’m talking to you now, Dad.
Dad, I love you, and it hurts me to say this, but I feel more like a showpiece than your actual daughter. Whenever we’re out, you tell whoever will listen to you about how little I was born, and to top it off, you buy me a cup of coffee for good measure. But, of course, when I was younger, it wasn’t coffee. Instead, you tell the clerk at the bookstore the same story, and then buy me books or packs of stationery. I don’t remember you spending time with me. Hell, I don’t remember you spending time with any of your family.
As I continue to grow and take steps to improve my own life, I often think that if I sat on top of the TV, you would pay more attention to me.
Despite saying you advocate for people with special needs, you have done almost nothing to help me. As a kid, other kids would make fun of me because I had to crawl on the floor at home. After all, my walker wheels would damage the hardwood floors. News flash ” knee walking” damages the body.
For years I have been without things I’ve needed, a ramp, a service animal, actual comprehensive counseling, and you’ve always told people I didn’t want to advance myself. That’s beyond fucked up. So even though I have become sufficient in two languages other than my own, have two master’s degrees, volunteer, and I’m a talented artist, I find it very sad that it has taken drastic steps to get even the bare minimum of things I’ve needed at home. For example, in order to get the ramp I needed and asked about for almost 20 years, I had to apply for accessible housing and tell you I would cut off contact with the family permanently to finally get one.
You intentionally forced me to rely on you for over 30 years, despite my hard work in many different areas. It is an understatement to say I am disappointed in all of you. But all you do is show me off to your friends. As a kid, you would even wake me up at night to show me off and tell people you were a “good dad”. Rather than spending time with your family, you choose to watch reruns on TV, eat ice cream by the gallon, and drink wine by the bottle.
In March, I started going to Alcoholics Anonymous. I was learning terrible habits in the way to drink wine; every time school made me nervous, I drank wine; when my chronic illness was causing me pain—wine. I don’t want to be like you, Dad. My heart-felt desire is to be better than you. I already am better than you because I can admit my flaws. I feel bad that you’re insecure and unwilling to grow as a person. I’m scared someday your lifestyle choices will kill you. I don’t want to be around to watch you slowly die. I refuse to do that to myself.
You’ve never gotten to know me as a person. It is easier to ignore me unless you can show me off, even at my expense. Then, you talk shit about me, lying and telling people my accomplishments are not my own. The only way I have gotten through the gaslighting over the years is to think of you much like kids in middle school. Parents often tell kids who are being bullied at school that the bullies want attention and secretly feel bad about themselves—thinking of you as children became my default way of thinking about you. As I grew into an adult, I have lost any respect for you
Treatment like this is not okay. Let’s stop pretending.