Message in a Bottle
What are the pros and cons of sending an email like this?
Hey, mom, it’s time to express how I feel. I thought an email would be the safest way. It is not my intention to hurt you, and I am pretty sure you don’t intend on hurting me, but you do, consistently.
It hurts that you believe in me so little and are so willing to point it out.
I even feel you hold back how disappointed in me you are, which hurts even more. It was never my intention to be a disappointment to you or myself. Life hasn’t been easy for me, and every day is a lonely, uphill battle trying to find my place in the world.
It hurts that I feel I need to distance and protect myself from you. It hurts knowing my distance from you probably hurts you, too! I wish I was emotionally stronger and could just lovingly accept you for who you are and not allow you to affect me so much. But that is not the case.
It hurts that I can’t confide anything about my life because, I feel, you will just tell me how it is my fault and where I went wrong. It hurts that, even as a child, I couldn’t come to you for support or understanding because you would take everybody else’s side regardless of the situation.
It hurts that I have such great, god-given gifts of a strong mind, body and personality and still have low self-esteem and lack of belief in myself.
Even as I am writing this and contemplating sending it, I have no idea if it is selfish, necessary, therapeutic or just crazy.
Anyway, these are some of my feelings. I hope they are received well because I do love you and want us to have a strong, supportive relationship!
Jessie, urban legends are fantastic stories that seem almost plausible. One urban legend claims McDonald’s uses earthworms in their hamburger. Another urban legend claims a man once followed a beautiful woman to a motel room, where he was drugged and woke up to find one of his kidneys had been harvested.
A third urban legend claims we can write a letter to someone abusive and they will mend their ways and establish a loving relationship with us. That bit of folklore is no more believable than the first two.
If your mother has been this way your whole life, why would you expect her to change? Who your mother is, is the culmination of every hour she has existed on earth. Her personality, her emotional compass, is set in those deeper layers of time, like a fossil.
We have this fantasy of what parents are supposed to be like, and when they are not, we often won’t give up the fantasy. Time and time again we expect them to act in the way a good parent would. Time and time again we are disappointed.
The sanest thing to do is accept people for who they are. That doesn’t mean embrace, love or like; it means acknowledge who they are. You don’t tell a secret to a gossip, you don’t give your wallet to a thief, and you don’t confide in someone who destroys your self-confidence.
Instead, you find other people to fill those roles. If your parent is not a good mentor, you find someone who is. It isn’t your job to make your mother a good human being.
Other people are not our Mr. Potato Head, a toy we can change any way we want. They are not our avatar or the sock monkey when he was just a sock.
Take your letter and delete it. Or print a copy and burn it. Or, if you live by the sea, print it, put it in a bottle and throw it in the ocean. But don’t send it.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for The Week of September 23, 2013
Send letters to: [email protected] , or Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield MO 65801.