It’s frustrating to listen to you go on about everything you know is wrong with society. You bleat and bleat about how nobody deserves handouts and sneer at people that are struggling because they must not be trying hard enough. If they just work harder, if they just become better people, they wouldn’t need to ‘steal’ it from the real producers.
I spent so long giving you the gift of empathy.
I gave that compassion. I worked so hard to see it your way, to understand where you were coming from, to show you that you didn’t have to be afraid.
After all, you had worked so hard for me. That’s what you kept telling me.
An interesting trick, that.
Tell someone for long enough what a burden they are, and they’ll start to believe you.
It certainly makes for hard workers. If my existence cost you this much, I really should try to pay you back for that time. Nothing in my mental and emotional reserves is as valuable as the slightest reduction in the weight of that guilt. To prove that I can earn my right to exist. To bring more joy than pain into the lives of those around me. I’ll pare myself down until there’s nothing left if I can just relieve an ounce of the debt.
Something in me has always known this wasn’t fair. But I shut her up. I can’t afford to be lazy. I can’t be one of those people that whines and complains and just wants everything handed to them. I’m not entitled to anything, and I need to keep working if I want to have anything.
Work so hard I become numb. Work myself to the bone to keep at bay the crushing pressure of knowing that you wish you had never become a father.
Can you admit that out loud to yourself yet?
Did you hear yourself all the times you reminded me of everything you’ve sacrificed for me? The way you speak with regret about your youth, and act as if it were stolen from you? Have you listened to the way you speak about Mom, as a wet blanket, as the person ruining all of your fun?
And then I found out I was unplanned. See, that’s not necessarily a problem. Mom doesn’t see it that way, and that’s why she was comfortable telling me. She doesn’t regret becoming a parent.
You, on the other hand? Hearing that made all of your behavior click into place. My existence is an easy scapegoat for all of your regret and pain, all of your what-ifs and if-onlys.
Do you know how obvious you are in your rabid and vehement anti-choice stance? Have you heard of a reaction formation? The anger you experience when you hear about abortion is awfully suspicious. The overweening declarations of how proud you are of me and how much you love me feel the same. Your words say one thing. Your actions have always said another.
No wonder I’ve been so susceptible to gaslighting my entire life. My father is so invested in lying to himself that he has to drag his entire family through the lies too. You’re so afraid to deal with your own emotions and shame that you destroy your own health, and punish yourself and everyone around you in your efforts to get even a little bit of relief.
Here’s your permission. You’re allowed to regret becoming a father. You’re allowed to be grateful that I exist while still wishing you had taken a different path, one that didn’t create me. You’re allowed to choose something different for your life. You don’t have to stay with Mom for Mom, or for me and my brother, or for the dogs, or for the house, or for anybody else’s family. You are not obligated to be a provider.
We live in a culture immersed in duty. I’m releasing you from that. It doesn’t matter that I’m your daughter. You’re allowed to dislike, or even hate, the person that I’ve become. You’re allowed to be disappointed and to feel even more intense regret for becoming a parent.
But what you’re not allowed to do, anymore, is to abuse me in the service of your feelings. You do not get to control me or what I do with my life. You do not get to make jokes at my expense or at the expense of other people I care about while I sit by silently and weather your barrage of pressure to “lighten up” or “get a sense of humor.” You do not get access to my time or my energy if I don’t want to give it.
Why do you act so entitled?
Maybe this is that reaction formation thing again. You yell so much about people who just want handouts, but you seem to be very comfortable taking whatever you want from the people around you with no thought to how hard they have to work to give it to you, or what it costs them to keep letting you take it. It doesn’t occur to you to amuse yourself, to comfort yourself, to validate yourself in ways that don’t come at the expense of others. You’re entitled to get that from your wife and children. It doesn’t cross your mind that what you are doing is theft because you feel like you deserve it.
Why are you entitled? I get it. It hurts. It’s scary. It is immensely difficult to reach into the dark corners of your own soul, and heal your own wounds, and process the abuse, neglect, and abandonment that you’ve been subjected to.
But guess what, that is your job. You are the only one who can do the work to ease your pain. You are the only one who can seek healing for yourself. And you haven’t been doing this work. You have been exploiting and manipulating everyone around you to try to make you feel better because heaven forbid you do some real, honest, hard work on yourself.
One might call that laziness.
You can run from your discomfort for as long as people keep letting you. I’m not letting you use me for that anymore. I’m not going to stay around and watch as you pick up addiction after addiction in this insane race to the bottom because you don’t want to look at the ugly truth of yourself.
You leave the people you claim to love to try to clean up the messes you create, and to tolerate the abuse that you can’t be bothered to stop visiting on them because “it’s just how you were raised.” I refuse to participate in this system anymore.
I think the biggest thorn I put in your side is that your first born is a person who can spot a hypocrite. I’ve caught myself at it too, and when I do I try to change it. I can almost guarantee you there are things I’m still being hypocritical about. It’s what we do. We’re human.
But that doesn’t excuse us from trying. Sometimes we don’t know any better. But when we LEARN better, we need to DO better. I have no sympathy for you who keep refusing to learn better, who keep denying the reality right in front of you and blaming a whole mess of ambiguous ‘other’ figures (the government, liberals, women, gays, blacks, poor people, etc., ad nauseum) for the pain and fear and torment you feel inside. You who refuse to take any responsibility for yourself or your actions.
This doesn’t mean I don’t understand why you’re doing it. Just like I’m sure you understand why a child would eat candy all day if they were allowed. It’s easy, it feels better in the moment.
But here we reveal the biggest betrayal that you have visited upon me in calling yourself a parent. Parents are the ones who are actually supposed to know better. They’re the ones that are supposed to give us a good example for how to live, and grow, and be better humans. I learned how to do all that, not because of you, but in spite of you. I had to teach myself how to set boundaries, how to defend myself against abusers, how to love myself and believe in myself, and how to reject toxic societal expectations for me. In many cases, I had to be an adult because you refused to. I treated you with kindness and compassion and understanding while you refused to give me any of the same in return. I didn’t use unethical argument techniques against you when you were too young to fight back. I never had the luxury of ‘because I said so.’ I let your own unethical arguments happen without calling them out. I stifled all the anger I ever felt so that you wouldn’t be uncomfortable, so that you wouldn’t punish me any further for daring to question your authority. I protected your feelings.
Just like a parent must sometimes set boundaries with a child to teach them right from wrong, I have had to do with you. Instead of having you as a healthy parent for me, I had to learn to be an adult before I was ever really able to be a child, because you never created space for me to question, to explore, or to challenge you. Other things, maybe, but never you. I had to carve and extract all that for myself out of the forbidding bedrock that is your pain, authority, and denial.
And you wonder why I’m not too keen on becoming a parent yet? It’s not because I don’t think I can do a good job. It’s because I need some fucking fellow adults around me, who I don’t have to mother through their bullshit. And it’s because I’m still learning to stop mothering other people through their bullshit and let them do it themselves, which is what I’ve finally done with you.
So once again, I challenge you to clean up the shit in your own backyard before you start casting stones at others. I dare you to stop accusing everyone else of being lazy and entitled, and stop being a lazy and entitled asshole that drains the life out of everyone around him.
You want a cookie for providing materially for us? Okay, good job. We didn’t starve or go without shelter or clothing. You have done slightly less than the bare minimum required to be an acceptable parent.
That right there, being a ‘good provider,’ will never been an excuse to be emotionally abusive. It will never absolve you for the cruelty you have visited on your family and which you still continue to visit upon us. Start taking responsibility for yourself and deal with it.
Do I think you’ll read this? I don’t know. I’m not sure if extended family will link you to it or if you will care to read it if they do. Will you actually try to understand it if you do read it? I don’t know. I doubt it. If any of our interactions thus far have been any indication, I can be bleedingly honest and clear with you, and you are perfectly capable of pretending like it didn’t happen because it’s too uncomfortable for you to deal with. So I’m sure that anything like this will just get dismissed as ‘acting out’ or some kind of ‘phase.’
Par for the course.
It couldn’t possibly be that I have something valuable to say. It couldn’t possibly be that you’re wrong.
Here’s the thing though. I don’t like seeing you miserable. As angry as you make me and as much as it hurts me to be anywhere near you like this, as much abuse as you’ve subjected me to throughout my lifetime, I still don’t feel any need to punish you.
I’m not doing this to punish you. I’m doing this for my own survival.
You’re projecting your own tendency toward punishment onto me.
I’m keeping you out of my life because it’s what I need, because I have no more to give you, because I need to start healing the wounds that you insist on ripping open over and over again, no matter how many times I beg you to stop and just treat me like an equal. I am not your punching bag, and that’s all you seem to be able to use me for.
I’d love to see you go to therapy, and start growing and changing and living again. You deserve that. You deserve happiness. You deserve to take charge of your life and your dreams and what remains of the time you have left on this planet to actually. be. happy.
What, in the name of everything that you consider holy, is stopping you? Is your fear of pain really more important than becoming free from the weight of avoiding it?
Maybe now you see why it’s so hard for so many other humans to escape from the holes they’ve dug for themselves. You condemn them, but you are them. You are one of those lazy and entitled people that doesn’t want to do any work and expects everyone else to carry you. There is plenty of value in our society that has nothing to do with money. Why don’t you start earning the respect you demand? Why don’t you start actually working for the attention and energy you want from other people, instead of manipulating and exploiting them to get it?
Something something glass houses and stones. Something something pots and kettles. Go find a leg to stand on before you start calling other people lazy and entitled.