Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I hate my family! I’ve bottled up this feeling for so many years and it feels extraordinary to be able to finally say it, albeit to you. Ever since I was a little kid, my parents and siblings – older and younger (as you might gather, I am the middle child) – have acted as if I am invisible to a vast degree, and, not knowing any better, I assumed this was normal.
I was never envious of my siblings when one of them was praised or rewarded for his or her achievements or for excelling in sports or the arts. I never thought twice when no one was able to come to a play I was in, a ball game I played in, or even my graduation. I just accepted their absence and thought, “Next time they will come.”
But there never was a next time.
Fast-forward more than 27 years. I left school at age seventeen to attend college out of state, and earned a number of degrees including a law degree and a PhD and landed a position with a highly respected firm.
This year, I accepted an invitation to go home for Passover. You see, I wanted to introduce them to the woman I plan to marry. I had hoped that, as the old adage says, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and that my family would have grown to be more caring and concerned.
I was wrong.
Elise and I flew in Thursday afternoon and as soon as we got to the house, the comments from my siblings began, I almost longed for the days in which I was invisible to them. My father filled me in on what was doing with each of my siblings and their families, but seemed to make no big deal about my life.
Instead, Elise was forced to deal with comments about her clothes, her accent (she’s English) and what could she possibly see in me. It was like this for the whole first days.
My heart broke for Elise. She tried so hard to help my mother in the kitchen, even after being told that eventually she would learn how to do things the right way. And, with all that, she opted to stay.
People don’t change, Mrs. Bluth; they get worse with age and my family is absolute proof of this. Elise is an orphan with loving siblings who have become my family as well and I have no need for these blood relatives who are cruel and hateful. I’m prepared for them to have excuses for not coming to our wedding. And, in truth, I pray they don’t show up. It is a day I wish to celebrate surrounded by the people I have accepted as my family and who love me. Thank you for listening.
First, let me wish both you and Elise a heartfelt mazal tov on your upcoming marriage and wish you a lifetime of love, respect, consideration and devotion.
What you describe in your letter is a lonely, painful and sad childhood, devoid of familial and demonstrative love, absent of encouragement and acknowledgment of accomplishment. These are the pillars upon which a child relies in order to build his or her platform of self-esteem and self-worth. And yet, without the love and support, you seem to have done well for yourself.
Good for you and bad for you.
Good for you because you will stop at nothing to prove to yourself and everyone else that you can do great things. Bad for you, because something very bitter and vile has grown in that hole where love should be, and its name is HATE. Hate is a cancer that consumes the one who bears it as well as those it is directed at. I can feel your anger towards your family for the way you feel they have mistreated you, but you are a grown man today, one who has found a loving partner and will one day be a parent to children. If you do not take your experience and turn it into something positive, you will almost certainly bring this poison into your marital relationship and the acid will spill over into your parenting.
I know forgiveness sounds like an obscene word right about now, but truthfully, it is the salve that will heal your heart and give you the ability to be the man, the husband and the father that you always wanted for yourself. In that way, each time you say “I love you” to Elise, you will feel it for yourself as well. And each time you praise and encourage your children, that little guy who lives inside of you and so desperately craves that encouragement for himself, will feel it too. And you will heal and become whole.
Perhaps, one day, you might consider sitting down with your parents (siblings too) and telling them about all the years of hurt you’ve been carrying around. It is even possible that they are not aware that they are the cause of your pain and your telling them will make them want to partner with you in the healing process. Elise is your crutch. You lean on her to feed your emotionally depleted persona. It may work now, but in time she may become overtaxed in supplying you with this kind of conflictual love, that of a mother and that of a wife. The two loves are completely different and should never be confused.
So, my friend, I hope I have offered some insight on how you can best help yourself grow into a complete and satisfied person – not by venting or screaming, those are only momentary releases. Hate won’t help you either.
Take this moment to start turning something so powerfully hurtful and twisted into something positive, productive and satisfying for yourself and your family. I’m cheering for you, because I know you can do it!