A Thank You to My Estranged Parents, Twenty Years in the Making

During my senior year of college, a therapist I’d been seeing at the time suggested I make a list of all the good things in life I got from my parents. I told her to f off, but in a nice way of course, since I’ve always been afraid of upsetting my therapists.

But lately, with my fortieth birthday rapidly approaching (in 40 days but who’s counting), I can’t help but revisit the idea of expressing gratitude to the people who created me. Even though I haven’t spoken to them in ages (and have no desire to ever do so again), perhaps the next stage of letting go is to acknowledge how they helped shaped me. So here we go.


To My Mother And Father, A Thank You

Thank you for the blue-green eyes. I get lots of compliments on them. Sometimes I think it accounts for 97% of why people find me attractive.

Thank you for saying, “If you don’t like it here, leave.” After years of you treating me like dog poo, I finally found people who wanted to love me unselfishly and tenderly.

Thank you for constantly reneging on your offer to help pay for college. Because of you, I learned I could take care of myself financially.

Thank you for your ethnocentricity and close-mindedness. Because of you I joined the Peace Corps and now rejoice in other cultures.

Thank you for not protecting me from a terrifying sibling. You taught me that my fists, my nails, my teeth and my words would not fail me like you did.

Thank you for taking me to ballet and gymnastics for over a decade. I learned to see myself as an athlete and became a team player.

Thank you for fixing my medical issues. Because of you, I’m not a cross-eyed, bow-legged woman with horrible teeth who walks with her toes turned in.

Thank you for the toxic environment at home. It drew me to books, which were my gateway to a better life, even if it was just in my imagination.

Thank you for telling me great stories about New York. I will always share a part of my soul with that awe-inpsiring city, a city where hope and opportunity sing from every corner.

Thank you for discarding me time and again for your boyfriends and girlfriends. I now feel more compassionate towards others who feel lonely or unwanted.

Thank you for not caring how I did in school. Because of your lack of concern, I learned that my future was all up to me.

Thank you for laughing when, at six, I’d mix cans of tuna with mayonnaise and put them in the fridge after hearing you scream about how broke we were. Never again will I take my financial stability for granted.

Thank you for taking away my best friend, my cat, without telling me. I now know what insufferable loss and unending pain feels like.

Thanks for letting me stay up late to watch Saturday Night Live. I still smile when I think about the Land Sharks, Cone Heads or the hilarious Rosanne Rosanadanna.

Thank you for telling me to stop playing the victim. Because of that I worked my ass off to show you I would be a success in life despite how you treated me.

And finally, thank you for setting me free. For when you let me go, I met the most extraordinary man I have ever known. He gathered all of my brokenness into his arms and told me I deserve to be cherished and respected. He saw in me what I couldn’t see in myself; that I have worth.

We had a child, and now each day I do my best to make sure her life is filled with joy. Little by little, I am showing her the holes in my heart and the bruises that will never heal. And when I do, both she and my husband encircle me with their love, a love that knows no boundaries.

So thank you for bringing me into this world, almost forty years ago. May you go through the rest of your life knowing all you missed out on.

(photo credit: Evgeni Dinev/freedigitalphotos.net)

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Filed under: Families in the Loop

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