Personally Speaking...

Dear Parent

Dear Parent,

Right now you are failing me. At this point it’s not even about what’s best for me, it’s about what gives you the least stress. I know you’re drowning in worry for so many depend on you but you yourself have no one to run to. The one who was supposed to be there for you absconded with their own selfish desires and left you with a pittance. I’m sorry for that, and I know it’s clouded your judgement. You can’t think rationally because they have disappointed you so much that you cannot see a bright side at all. But now I can’t either, since you decided to put your blinders on me. I know there is more but I’m being forced to see only what you need me to see, because it’s easier for you. Because there is less risk.

The problem is that you view anybody who doesn’t do things how you would’ve if you were in their shoes, with distrust and condescension. You’re think you’re right, just for being the parent. In ways you are better than the other who abandoned us when we needed them the most, but in other ways you are just like them for your refusal to let go. You are incapable of letting go of me, you still want to control me because you think I cannot control myself. You still see me as an inexperienced teenager when I am in fact an adult (is that not my age on my ID?). You look at me as if I have all my mistakes — past, present and future — etched all over my body. You see me for what I’ve done rather than what I can do. You have always swooped in to be my safety net instead of let me fall, get hurt and learn. And worst of all, you never taught me the importance of independent thought. THAT, I had to learn from others.

We are of a culture that stomps into children the absolute importance of listening to and respecting one’s parents and elders to the point that even when said parents/elders do things to hurt us, we cannot speak for ourselves, defend ourselves because that would be “disrespect”. Yes, it is good to respect your parents and honour tradition but at what point can we waive that? There has to be a point! There are parents that act only in their best interests, to the detriment of their children, or both in a devastating mix. Not every parent is willing to bend over backwards for their children, and to expect the children to unwaveringly give them respect while they get none in return is abusive.

Of the two parents I have, you are the best. But you still have your faults. You never shy from pointing out other parent’s problems (and there’s no doubt they have a lot of them), but you carry yourself as if you’re porcelain. You’re merely cracked, whether you admit it to yourself is unknown to me. You demand such an unattainable standard of perfection from me and my siblings, as though you are a bastion of such. You are not. We are not. No one is meant to be perfect. Perfection in mankind is a tall order; look at our history. We have not been on this rock that long (if you think about how long our universe has been here) and we’ve fucked things up immensely. But I’m sure you know all this and you still expect me to be perfect.

I may not be seeing things your way because, for one, your idea for the next 4 months of MY life is an awful one. And two, you did not allow me to get a single word in. You shut me down before I could explain myself. This is what I feared most, and why it took so long to even come up to you. The conversation is far from over though, next time I will make sure I’m heard. Even if it means we won’t speak for a couple of days. I can handle you not speaking to me, in fact it’s better for my recovery from the awkward social interactions we have if I just not hear your voice. I’ll try to disguise my disdain at being trumped by you, but I cannot promise that.

I am on the verge of taking a new turn in my life, taking the first steps to becoming my own person and not just a vessel through which you try to live the life you wish you could’ve. It entails making very difficult decisions, exposing myself to a harsh corporate world that my naive ass was trained to be a part of, finally adulting! And you said No. Because we cannot afford it. Who said you’d have to pay for anything? It’s been really sweet that you have been helping me along all this time but I think it’s time for me to do things for myself.

But you don’t think I can. You told me “With all that’s going on, I thought you’d be smarter and more mature about this, but I guess you’re not.” You pointed at my child — who, as much as you love him, you still hold his entrance into our world against me — and you said he is who I’m supposed to be doing “this” for.

Who else could I be doing it for? “Your boyfriend.” Even if he was not a factor, your idea is still awful. I am not a stay-at-home mom. I refuse to be. What did I go to university for? To become an extra mouth to feed, to add to my grandmother’s expenses (which she is already struggling to handle)? There is no type of reality where your idea seems reasonable against mine. I do not have to iterate what my life plan is; nobody ever stands on a soapbox to announce to their family what they plan to do with their lives before they commence; they JUST DO IT. They live, without concern for what others think of it. Now that I want to do that, it’s suddenly a crime.

Let’s say I go ahead with your plan, I submit and let you shackle me again, I will never grow. And then years from now, you will ask why I’m not growing. You chastise me for my inability to stand strong against other parent (who you frame as the abuser), forgetting that when I’ve tried to stand for myself against you, you are ready with scissors to snip me up.

It’s laughable that you want me to follow your lead whereas you tell my younger siblings that they need to help themselves to ensure their near future. Does somebody need to draw out an easy-to-read infographic for you to see how hypocritical you are being? I can only hope in the next couple of days we can sit down and talk. You have the weight of stress, anger and prolonged disillusionment breaking your spine, a day at a time. I want to ease that (on my own terms), but you insist that this is your lot in life. Do you enjoy being in pain, then blaming others for not pulling you out of the pain? I want to help, dear parent.

But it starts with letting go. I know you don’t want me to fail, but you want me to prosper only within your chosen parameters. Limits that don’t allow for full growth.

Just because it’s more convenient.

Because it causes the least stress.

I know it’s good to respect your parents, but how long can that go before it becomes harmful? All children grow into adults who need to function without an invisible hand moving them to do so. When exactly will you remove your hand and let me function independently? If all children never stopped listening to their parents, even when they’re grown, even when it posed a detriment to their growth, mankind would be way worse than it is already. We would be on a faster track to self-ruin.

If you listened to your parents, you wouldn’t be where you’ve been, I wouldn’t have had the experiences I’ve had (which I’m thankful for). Maybe you would’ve chosen a better life partner. But you wouldn’t know what it is to struggle and emerge from the rubble with strength and wisdom. We’d probably all still be living in grandma’s house.

You of all people should know a good life is not one where there is happiness abound, and no one ever feels pain. A good life is lived when you’ve picked things up along the way that help you become a better, stronger person; you will still feel grief, pain and discontent but you never let them rule you. You don’t allow negative emotions to take away from who you are.

You took a risk, and it had negative effects. It robbed you of the carefree joy that used to be the curls in your hair and left you with a hardness resembled by greys. But you are stronger now. You are a fighter. Do you not want me to be like you?

Next time you pick up your scissors, cut these strings and let me go. I won’t be gone for too long. I will come back.

Love,

Daughter

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