Tuesday, May 19, 2015

An Open Letter to My Abusers

I've got nothing better to do right now but sit here and listen.

I listen to my music, preaching power, independence, and self love. It helps a little to drown out the sounds of my little sister's constant singing, my little brother's screams, your yelling, the hard thwack of a stick hitting a body. That body used to be me, but I'm untouchable now. I'm going to Berkeley. I'm that perfect child you always wanted, at least on the outside. What you don't know is that I'm going to use you. I'm going to take what I need and leave you forever once I have it, because I deserve better than the bruises and beatings and belittling and breakdowns that you have given me the last decade and a half. You took my childhood. Be glad it's only your money I'm taking. The money you should have spent to raise me anyway. I didn't ask to be born. I owe you nothing.

It's not a pleasant reality. I'm still learning to accept that too. I suppose I'm lucky that it wasn't "that bad," that I never had broken bones or burns, but you know what? Should I be grateful that I'm not dead? Abuse is abuse, no matter the severity. And now, I'm absolutely sure I'm not conflating abuse with discipline. Yelling to discipline should be a rare event. Yelling is your default tone. It goes on for hours at a time, every single day, adding up to weeks, months, years. This is abuse. If depression is an inflammation of the brain, this is the cause. A piece of sandpaper can polish a cord of wood, but keep filing away at it long enough and that cord of wood is destroyed, broken in two, even. I know this is what you want. You want to break me. You want me to be the idealized image of yourself. You're narcissistic and toxic at the very least, but no, let's call it for what it is. You are abusive. But I'm leaving now, so it falls upon my siblings.

It is strange hearing it from a third person point of view now. Your logic is ludicrous, your tone is hostile, and I can't believe I ever believed that it was truly my fault. You think you're just trying to act on good intentions and be a parent, but don't you see the damage you're causing? How can you possibly think that what you're doing is right? Your good intentions mean absolutely nothing. You're trying to heat a house by burning it down. It does not matter why – your convoluted, twisted reasons – because the fact of the matter is that it's not working. It's damaging and hurtful, but it's impossible to reason with you. What can I do? You're the broken one, but you don't want to be fixed, and you won't bend to reason. Nothing I say can change your mind, make you see the reality of the consequences of your actions. It's easier for you to inflict your own pain on others. And since there's nothing I can do, I sit here in silence, hoping that my sister can find support at school, and that my brother won't turn out to be violent like you are. I fear the worst, and I hate myself for being helpless.

Forgiveness has no part in this. I forgive people who ask for forgiveness. I don't owe any to you so I can feel better about myself. I will never forgive and I will never forget, lest I fall back into the trap of an abusive relationship in the future. Maybe it's good that I've learned sooner rather than later that even people who are supposed to be providers can cause pain, and just because they're nice sometimes does not excuse the times they are not. I carry with me my reflexes, my anxiety, my depressive defense mechanisms, because in this environment, they're the only things that can protect me. I still don't know what love is. I don't think I've ever felt it, and as a result, I don't think I've developed the ability to love others either. Does this make me a bad person, I do not know, but I do know that it's keeping me alive. Maybe someday, I can trust a person fully without any fear, but for now, every friendship feels strained, every little moment goes into my calculation of how much I can rely on someone, every little accident has the potential to become a deep seated grudge.

Someday, you'll die alone, and whether you carry your denial to the very end or realize the consequences of your mistakes, it won't matter. I'm done with this and you'll never see me again. No matter what happens in my life, I won't come running back to you. I'd rather die. ◊

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