Less than

Hey Kid,

It’s a good thing this letter won’t get to you.  Because it’s pretty harsh.  You wouldn’t understand and would be terribly hurt by it.

There were times in my life that I hated you.  I know, that’s pretty fucked up.  Who hates themselves as a kid?  But I did.  I carried around all those times you were less than indomitably strong… less than impenetrable against the onslaught of her abuse… less than spot on with your predictions for when she was going to beat you… less than utterly perfect.  I hated you almost as much as I hated her.

I grew up with that constant internal voice she gave me – the one that would ritually berate myself on a daily basis for my mistakes.  I could speak such kindness to my kids and my friends… and then spill vile hate all over myself for the simple fact that I was human.  The irony was lost on me.  I thought it was okay to be hard on myself – because how else would I get better.

Better?  At what?  Positive growth comes from compassion and connection… not from fear of being insufficient or anger at feeling unworthy.   The only thing I was growing was a deeper sense of self hatred.  That was her legacy she left me before she decided I wasn’t worth her attention any longer.

Here’s the saddest part:  I was incapable of loving you kindly because I had never experienced kind love from her.  You won’t want to admit this right now.  You will keep coming up with excuses for her.  You will blame the alcohol… or her own abused childhood… or how you never seem to meet her expectations… or your inability to say or do the right thing.

You made yourself her best excuse.  But the truth is, YOU are the child and SHE is the adult.  You hate yourself because you fear you will never be enough for her.  But the truth is, you will never heal her pain.  The pain is HERS.  Only she can heal it.

It took me many years of deep effort to let go of that anger, disappointment, and hatred I directed at myself… all for the sin of being human.

You know how much you are just dying to grow up?   You believe that being an adult will solve your problems.  You close your eyes tight at night and make a wish in case wishes could come true:  Grow up.  Then I could get out.  Protect myself.  Trust no one.  And be left alone.

Here’s the thing, Kiddo… you can’t ever really grow up until you learn how to connect with people through compassion.  And you cannot know real compassion until you can actually feel it for yourself.  You will be a child caught in an adult’s body throwing tantrums whenever you feel in danger – which is often.  Because you never learned how to be otherwise.  And that desire to be left alone?  It’s a death sentence.  You’ll learn, painstakingly, that people can be trusted and that you don’t have to protect yourself all the time.

But first you’re going to have to learn how to let yourself be vulnerable.  Yeah, I can hear your guffaw from here.  All I can say is that you’ll figure this one out with time… and the help of some exceptional people.

I guess I’ll wrap this up for now.  I do need you to know that all that hatred I carried around wasn’t your fault.  I don’t blame you anymore.  In fact, I can honestly say that I love you. And some days, when I am feeling deeply connected, I don’t even blame her.  She was as lost as you are now and never found her way out.  She did terrible things… and she suffers terribly for them.  I wish I could change that, but I can’t.  That’s the pain inside me that I don’t know will ever go away.  Because you and I both know that buried under all that hate we have held for her was this piercing need to love her.

Perhaps someday I will be able to uncover that and let it go free.

2 thoughts on “Less than

  1. Teddy B

    oh God, I just started crying with the reality of the last paragraph. How I just want to still love my dad and to be loved back. to realize he never loved me and never will be capable of it. it hurts deeply. but I am glad you’re writing what you’re writing. cuz I just feel guilty abt doing what he did, to not love him. how can I love a monster who I know feels nothing for me?

    1. chris Post author

      Teddy – Thank you for your words. Loving someone doesn’t mean we cannot hold them accountable. As kids, we think we HAVE to love our parents and we HAVE to please them… it’s how we are wired because it’s called Survival. Nature made us this way. As children, we NEED our parents to thrive. But when our parents are broken, we don’t always have the ability to account for that and to get help from others. So we end up thinking that it must be US. Teddy, you are making the journey your dad never made. You have the ability to change and you are acting on it. You are on the hero’s journey. Your future generations will be better for your efforts. I am proud of you.

Leave a Reply