A letter to my parents

My life did not really begin until I moved to South Seattle in 2006.  I was 35 years old and finally started to live my life as my authentic self.  I started to only do things that I felt matched my belief system and only included people into it that I deemed uplifting.  I am grateful for the past that helped me find my true self, I am just sad it took me 35 years to find her.

Dear Mom

I am separating these letters because they address different things.  Mom, I am addressing you first because you were the one who was most prevalent in my life.  You were the nurturer and the counselor.  First off I apologize if this seems cutting and cruel. As part of my healing I need you to know and understand exactly how I feel and the pain I have gone through.

In the past I have blamed you for many things.  I blamed you for not being a good parent, for being abusive and neglectful.  I blamed you for forcing me to do things that were not in my best interest but most of all I blamed you for this sense of guilt that I carry with me over the things that were truly out of my control, yet i felt responsible.  I always thought you loved my sister more than me, I blamed you for giving up on my brother and for doing everything to control my life until I left home.

In the end it was not all your fault, I see that now.  I want to address some specifics.  Things that I found most painful and tell you how they affected me.  You always told me to reign in my rebellious spirit.  You even told family, friends and the pastors about my rebellion.  What you did not really understand was that rebellion is part of who I am.  I was not rebelling against you necessarily, but against those things I viewed as wrong in the world.  I found that suppression of my spirit so painful and stifling.  What you may not have realized, this caused me to hate myself,  I have low self-confidence because that voice in the back of my head that says reign in your rebellion.  I now see most of my actions as rebellion and a bad thing.  I often fall asleep thinking of myself as a bad person.  I do not trust my intuition and I tried for years to fit in because that was what was expected.  It took me moving away and not telling anyone for 6 months where I went to get any sense of place and belonging.

I tried for years to be a good Christian.  Going to church often, praying and putting money I could not afford into the tithes.  I tried to have faith in this imaginary being in the sky.  I tried so hard to connect, but could never find that connection, I faked it often.  I always felt that I was not ever going to be good enough.  This stems not from you so much as from the church.  I do not know if you were ever told about that night of the New Year’s Eve party at Jim and Cathy’s home?  I arrived with my sister and all the cool kids were outside in the street singing and being obnoxious because they were all drunk.  They were at the party with the pastor but they were all drunk.  I met a new kid that night, much younger than me.  He and his brother had moved in over Christmas break and they did not know anyone or anything about the town we lived in.  I told him there was a park near the school.  He was shocked he had no idea there was a park.  I took him down the road showed him the park and the school, it was still light out at that point.  I guess I should have told the someone where I was going, but the cool kids were all outside drinking, like anyone was paying attention to me?   I got back and Cathy grabbed me by the neck and threw me into the back bedroom.  She screamed at me and told me if I left the house again she was going to call my mom and tell her what a whore I was.  I was still a virgin and those words stung so deep.  I knew she was going to tell you something happened and I would get beat for it anyway so I had my first sexual encounter that night.  Rumors spread fast after that.  Not that the boys at school needed any more ammunition.  To this day I have an open view of sex and sexuality.  I have been called a whore so often that it does not even bother me anymore.

The next thing to address is how much I resented you for not hearing me.  I used to think you just liked to see me in pain, but now 30 years later I realize maybe you just could not hear my cries for help.  I begged to go live with relatives, I begged to move out of our school district, I even took a half day class through a college program just to escape.  You see the cries you did not hear were from daily abuse.  I was sexually assaulted daily and harassed so much that I gained weight after high school in an attempt to hide any form of attractiveness.  I married the first man who showed enough interest in me.  I never really loved him, but I needed to escape.  I married because I was basically told that was my only option.  I do not even know if those words were ever uttered, but the idea was embedded in my head so deep I could not let go of it and see the bigger picture.  I always thought this was another form of  your trying to control me, to make me submissive, by making me finish school in a place that tortured me daily.  I had one moment when you stood up for me, but that was more standing up for yourself as a parent, but I did appreciate you telling the counselor that I did not wear inappropriate clothes and you would not allow them to tell me my clothes were why people treated me like that.  It was just over half-way through my junior year, I think, maybe my senior year.  And yes you were right, I got more and more rebellious the closer I got to my 18th birthday, because I saw a way to escape.  I finally could walk away from the constant abuse.

Sadly that did not stop even after I left home.  Men at the bar I worked at would touch me and try to stick their hands up my dress.  That was the point I started to gain weight, I though I was pregnant and they seemed to back off quite a bit.  It gave me some power back.  Being fat gave me a tiny bit of power.  I do not know if you knew that my husband’s father was a little touchy feely with me as well. It is amazing I am not some kind of drug addict to be honest.

The final thing I want to address is when I was fighting my ex for custody, you said something that cut so deep, I never thought I would speak to you again.  It was part of the reason I moved away and told no one where I went.  You told me maybe the kids would be better off with my ex.  I seemed to want my freedom and they seemed better off with him.  What you did not know is that he is mentally abusive and Jessica was going to suffer the same low self-esteem issues I did if I allowed him to bully her over every aspect of who she is.  You cavalier attitude about my custody battle and your lack of support hurt so bad.  In the end I know it was more about putting my nephew back with my sister.  You always made me feel like you thought I stole her kids from her.  Here is a big piece of myself I am going to share.  I do no like kids, I never wanted them.  I resented you telling people who I had my nephew not because I stood up and took on the responsibility, but because my sister made the best choice for him.  I took on a child that had attachment issues, one that could not build a bond with me.  I struggled with him every single day and you made me feel like a failure about it all the time.  You made her to be the saint and me to be the child thief.  That probably hurt the most.  You could not or would not acknowledge that I stepped out of my comfort zone and took on a responsibility that was not my own.  One I was not prepared for.

In the end I am done playing the victim.  I am done blaming you for the pain I have suffered. I am letting it go.  I finally realize that some of that pain was not your fault.  It was not that you wanted me to suffer in pain, it was that you were unable to hear my cries.  Maybe you were too busy dealing with your own pain, maybe you were too busy trying to be a good Christian, or maybe you just were not able to hear, whatever the case, I am letting it go.  I do want you to know that you were right, if you had divorced dad and he had moved away, I would have gone with him.  It was never really you that I was trying to escape, it was the pain inflicted on me by my peers, my pastor and the school.  I was trying to escape that little hell hole as fast as I could.  I do not know if you realize that coming home causes me to physically be sick each time?  I get anxiety and fear overwhelms me just driving in that general direction.  It took finally escaping to understand how much pain I went through.

Dear Dad:

Since you were gone more often than not this is a short letter.  I feel my relationship with you is much stronger than the one I have with mom.  But you are not blameless in this pain I suffered.  I resent being lied to. I have you to thank for that.  You were always a chronic liar, I suppose it was not your fault.  I resent being called a liar, and there were times you allowed mom to go off on me and you knew I was telling the truth.  Like the time there was a beer bottle on the car floor.  It was yours, you told me so and asked me why I did not toss it out when I found it?  Because it was not mine and I did not want anyone seeing me with it in my underage hands, that is why I did not toss it out.  Or the time my sister took all your change and there was a ton of it, and I got blamed for it.  I ran away and was gone for hours that day, because no one believed me.  Every time a car drove by I dove into the brush or ditch to not get caught.  I know that you cannot help your lying, but allowing me to be accused of infractions I did not commit is deplorable.

Another thing I want to address is your lack of support.  You just allowed mom to assume the worst about me.  You allowed her to deny me things based on her warped perception.  To top it all off you partied for years with the kids I went to high school with when I was not allowed.  Do you think this helped my self-esteem issues or the ongoing abuse?  Hell no it did not.  I got to hear about what a cool guy my dad was every Monday.  How my dad drank with them all and partied like a high schooler.  You made friends with my abusers.  You allowed them to tell me how cool you were while they sexually assaulted me daily.  I never told you about this because you were so distant and you seemed to not really care about us.

The final thing is you moved in with my ex boyfriend.  The man who owed me a ton of money for supporting him for two years.  You betrayed my trust.  How could I ever trust you after taking that idiot in?  Do not worry you were not the only one, my best friend did the same thing.  As did another friend who allowed him to hide something of value at their home so I could not sell it, who the hell needs a $600 weed whacker?  Yeah he was supposed to pay mom back for a car she sold us, but instead the fucking idiot buys a $600 weed whacker!  Yeah I am still resentful because mom held that over my head for a long time.

Ultimately I guess you never heard my cries, because you were too busy being anywhere but home.  You were too busy being cool.  But I forgive you, you had your own stuff to deal with.  I just have a hard time accepting that you might have slept with some high school classmates, and that makes me feel very creeped out.  Sorry but it does.  It also makes me wonder if some of my abuse was a direct result of your actions?  I will never know really.  Because even if you told me the truth I probably would think you were lying.  We all reap what we sow.

So mom and dad, I am done blaming you.  I am done playing the victim.  I need to take back control.  I need to let go of the pain and let go of the past.  This does not mean I am coming home, because it never truly felt like home.  I always felt like a foreigner in an unforgiving land.  What this means is that I am letting go of my anger and blame.  I cannot heal and move forward until I do this.  I am moving on, you are no longer going to clog my energy.  I love you both, and I wish you the best.  I thank you for raising me to adulthood and just so you know all that abuse and all that pain made me a very strong person.  I have a refusal to give up that just never stops.  I still have self-esteem issues and a lack of faith in my own decisions, but I never stop fighting for those I feel are abused, and that is all due to my pain and suffering growing up.

I just wanted you to know that I forgive you, for things you probably had no idea I blamed you for, because as I said, you probably could not hear my cries.


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