A Letter to Someone Who Would Not Recognize Herself in This

Hi. Are you busy? Because I know you believe what you’re doing right now is more important than anything I’ve done in my life just because it’s what you’re doing right now. 

But it isn’t.

You are not the center of the universe. 

I know you are angry because the career you built nearly your entire identity around is over. You want to continue to garner the same respect for the title you earned even though it now follows the word ‘retired.’

But that isn’t my fault.

I know you are angry that no one appreciates you for a brief period of your life that ended almost forty years ago—you know, the one that you built the remainder of your identity around. 

But that isn’t my fault.

I know you believe yourself to be the greatest parent who ever lived. Not because of a particular philosophy, but simply because you’re you. You substitute money for kindness, as if that could ever come close.

But that isn’t my fault.

I know you occasionally feel inadequate as a parent. You see your children’s ‘failings’ as reflecting poorly on you. You don’t understand that your children haven’t failed.

But that isn’t my fault.

I know you unequivocally equate success with money. This is the reason the things I do mean so little to you. You refuse to believe that anyone can be happy with less than you want for yourself.

But that isn’t my fault.

I know you believe yourself to be the elephant’s better when it comes to memory, but you aren’t. You argue photographic evidence when it contradicts your conclusions. You argue physical evidence when it contradicts your recollections.

But that isn’t my fault.

I know you want to be the center of attention, always. You make noises so people will notice you. You throw things so people will look at you. You boast and you brag and you try to sell yourself to anyone in a position of authority. You deny all of this, of course, especially denying affectation of any excessive mannerisms.

But that isn’t my fault.

I know you think you’re better than everyone else. I know you think you’re better than I am. At everything. You’re not.

But that isn’t my fault.

I know you can be a nice person. You can put on a great show for strangers when it will benefit you, even immediately following or preceding a blast of nuclear proportions directed toward the people who care about you.

I know you can consider others. You just don’t bother with pesky little things like feelings or personal space.

I know you can be a decent human being. I’ve seen it. But those moments are few and far between. 

I don’t want you to die alone and miserable, but what you don’t understand is that I will let you do that if I have to. I have learned hard lessons, not nearly enough of them thanks to you, and I know where my line is. 

I know you don’t believe that anyone else deserves a line that you cannot cross.

But that isn’t my fault.

I know that I can and I will take care of myself when it comes to that. I know that I am strong, and worthwhile, and valuable, and I did not learn any of that from you. 

I know that you told me I am weak and afraid and worthless. 

I know that you are wrong.

You are not infallible.

You are wrong.

I am a good person. I am smart and nice and a decent human being. 

I know you will pretend not to believe me if I tell you, but I don’t need you. I know telling you that would plant a seed of doubt that would grow until it hurts you; that’s why I don’t tell you.

And that isn’t your fault.

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