Open Letter To My Parents
Dear Mom and Dad,
I have been blessed with a privilege that many grown kids miss out on. I have gotten to know the two of you as an adult. I feel that it is a blessing because I want to not only be your child but I want to be your friend. I want one of those relationships you see on TV where we all have coffee together and talk about our day. But of course, those families are fiction.
I remember when I was a little girl, you’d sleep in the chair when I had to stay in the hospital, only leaving my side to get me cookies. You would read to me as I sat in bed. I have special memories of Little Women and watching Rugrats and Madeline on the tiny wall-mounted TV. Dad got me a stuffed puppy with a long nose and floppy ears. I still have the plushie in a box in my room for safekeeping. As a kid, the two of you were my safe place and the ones I could depend on when my world was out of control.
As I grew up, I started to see that you weren’t perfect. You would often project an image that you failed to live up to. But, from an outside perspective, you were perfect parents. Lucy and I always had new clothes. We went to church on Sundays, and you always watched me ride horses on Wednesday. You tried. But life is never as good as others see, is it?
Over the years, my disability became something of a bargaining chip. Something more about you than me. As many people do under a lot of pressure, I shut down. I began a mental decline. I started making myself throw up, something many people do for control, but you told people I did for “fun.” There were years of gaslighting and what I believe were attempts to gain attention for yourselves while having to do very little work in terms of being parents.
It seems so fake when you praise me for my collection of A’s and B’s and my multiple college degrees, but behind my back smile as family talks shit about me. I’m not sitting at home reading about serial killers and using sex toys; I’m staying away from places where I feel unwanted and judged.
The thing that has broken our relationship beyond repair are the years of neglect. You ignored my cries for help, dismissing them as cries for attention, which led to the downfall of my childhood dreams. Because I was the victim of years of harassment and sexual assault as a young teen, I isolated myself from my peers. Even though I was accepted to the university of my dreams. My unaddressed trauma made me too afraid to leave home.
While we’re on the topic of leaving home, I have been asking for a ramp for over 15 years and have never gotten one. This keeps me locked at home. I can’t help but think you want me to stay at home so that you can show me off like some sort of highly trained show dog.
The truth is, you’re both total phonies! Dad, at a family event, you hugged a family member close and told her how sorry you were that her dad wasn’t around for her. As I have grown up and needed you, you haven’t been there for me.
Mom, you work with disabled kids. Your job is to meet their needs, but you blame my dad for everything rather than meeting my needs. But in terms of all abuse and neglect, silence is compliance.
My recovery is slow, and as I learn more about myself, I have learned what I deserve in life. The fact is, the last 31 years have been about you. Of course, you want people to see you as “good parents.” But you have always put my real needs on the back burner, substituting junk food and shopping for real and human connection.
Part of healing is learning where it all started. I started my healing because I thought I was weak and draining the two of you. But in the process of getting stronger, I learned how to love myself. I wish you would learn how to love yourself and love each other.