Thank You

I talk a lot.

I don’t try to be annoying, it’s because I just love to share. I like my friends to know what is going on, I like to hear what is going on with them. So when I am not talking, that is when I am hurting the most. I am hurting and hiding and pretending.

These past few months have come crashing down on my reality in ways that I can’t even talk about here. It is highly personal. It is my dad. It is my brother. I took it all in, piece by piece. And I was fine. I made myself be ok. I am so busy that it was easier to instead take it day by day, and not focus on and worry about the things that I can’t help. So I focus on school and I didn’t talk about it. I don’t want anyone to know.

And then Bill broke my heart. I was shattered. It was the final piece, I couldn’t hold it all back anymore. When he left, I was shattered. I sobbed so hard I couldn’t breathe, I cried so hard I couldn’t see. I was shocked, I was nothing other than shattered. But it wasn’t just losing him, it was losing the final piece of comfort that was wrapping me up and keeping me whole when I needed that support the most. And I was weak, vulnerable, and distraught all at once, without a mask to hide it from the world. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t study. All I wanted to do was lay in my bed and cry. I wanted to mourn for all that was going wrong, without having to pretend to be ok. I wanted to be sad. I let it all out in the only way I knew how. It started off as just about Bill, but that is not how it ended. It became a mental cleansing; I was upset for Bill, for my family, for myself. There have been so many things that I realized I was trying to salvage. I have felt edged out by my friends, second rate in school, and I was letting all of these things happen. I didn’t feel that I belonged. I didn’t feel that I was worthy of belonging.

This was 5 weeks ago. And I didn’t realize it then, but I do now–I needed this. I needed to refocus myself. I realized I was working towards what I wanted, I realized I have done so many things that I never thought that I would. I realized who my true friends are. Because at the root, the current issue was still that I was heartbroken. So I just wanted to say thank you to all of my friends who I realized were there for me.

Thank you for letting me have time to myself in my room without judging me.

Thank you for forcing me out of my apartment with puffy red eyes when I said I didn’t want to go out.

Thank you for adding more vodka to my drink when I said I didn’t want to drink.

Thank you for forcing me to have a really great 2 hours out, where I wasn’t thinking about anything, and I was just free.

Thank you for rubbing my back as I puked.

Thank you for forcing me to take 3 bites of sandwich.

Thank you for taking me to look at cats.

Thank you for reminding me that you are there.

Thank you for skyping me for 2 hours and listen to me ramble and say the same things over and over.

Thank you for being empathetic.

Thank you for reminding me why you are all my sisters.

Thank you for sleeping with me because I couldn’t handle sleeping alone.

Thank you for telling me that it’s ok to cry and it’s ok to be happy.

Thank you for sending me an adorable “ghetto breakup package” with chocolate and eazy mac

Thank you for realizing I needed you

And finally,

Thank you for walking out of my life.

Surprisingly, that isn’t for Bill. He was having a hard time, but he is back now. I don’t know where we stand or what I want, but right now we love each other and we make each other happy, so I am not going to push that away.

You know who you are. Thank you for pushing me to realize that you brought more toxicity into my life than you should have, and that we aren’t good for each other. You call me a bad friend, but I have been there for you no matter what, and I still would be if you asked me too. I was your personal DD even when I was already asleep, I planned my schedule around you, I prioritized you, I tried to spoil you and make you happy, I cleaned up after you. And you gave up on me when I was in my lowest point, and you didn’t even know what was going on. And you threw harsh words that should never be said. And even though I can recognize that things have changed and mistakes have been made, you can’t. I can take responsibility and apologize and move forward and be cordial, you can’t. I can move past the mistakes and the issues and the arguments, you can’t. You can harbor this resentment and this anger and this immaturity, but I can’t. And I won’t. This happened 5 weeks ago, there is no reason that we should let it mar today. I have tried to talk to you, I have made my peace. I say hello in passing, you ignore. That is fine. One day I hope you realize how childish this all is, and I hope that we can be cordial. But I am done bending over backwards to try to make you happy. It isn’t worth my happiness to do so.

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Thank You

Looking back at it, I am surprised my parents dealt with me the way that they did. I was an absolutely horrific child to deal with, and, if (now, as a nanny) I had to deal with a child that was any reflection of who I used to be, I would quit before accepting $500/hour.

Growing up, everyone has those moments with their parents that make them think, “I will NEVER do that to my children, I don’t want to be like that.”

Our parents do one thing or another (or 10) that just wears down on our childish emotions and desires, and we think that we are fed up. We throw a temper tantrum, get into an argument with our siblings, lash out in vindictive anger, or simply break down into tears because we are so agitated. I know that I had many of these moments. I resolved long ago never to tell my children that I would take them to the park or the mall, and then spend an hour cleaning the house before as they waited to go. I knew that I wouldn’t mock them while they were so clearly upset. I knew that I wouldn’t punish their friends by sending them home. I knew that I wouldn’t get into an argument with them and force them to hear my side, and then walk away when they tried to tell theirs. I knew that I wouldn’t lecture them on how they should save the $20 in birthday money instead of allowing them to buy that really cool new toy. No, I would do none of these things.

But when we are that young, we can’t see things clearly. We think that we can, but we can’t. And not because we aren’t intelligent enough too, or because it’s too complicated. It is because of our own choice–our choice not to listen in an act of defiance, because that is the only retort that we have. We are too young to form counterarguments, or to be able to put ourselves in another persons shoes and completely analyze things from that point of view. Sitting us in a corner and telling us to “think about we’ve done,” was never effective. Those words were just synonymous with, “you are in trouble,” and not once did I actually ponder about the damage or the wrong that I had done. So it only stands to reason that in that time, I felt like the only victim. My parents had hurt or angered me, and I didn’t know how to discuss it or resolve it. Because at the time, everything revolved around me. The good and the bad, whatever happened, it was my fault. This also meant that I wasn’t capable of understanding that maybe mom and dad need a break or alone time, because to me that didn’t exist. I couldn’t respect it.

As I have gotten older, I realized that even though I now have the ability to empathize with my parents, many of their actions still upset me. Many of their actions are still some that I will never choose to mimic. However, I can not find it in my heart to be upset about them. Because, now that I can look at it with my real world experience, nothing was actually that terrible. As a child, I had an idyllic view of families and life that is simply a utopian fantasy. However, when I was younger, I didn’t understand why it was just a fantasy. I assumed that the families from the Cheerio’s commercial were actual families, and that everyone really did love each other that much all the time and always interacted with smiles and hugs, and I was so mad that mine didn’t. I didn’t understand how ridiculously high my expectations of a family were, and so I was consequently heartbroken when my fantasy and my reality didn’t coincide. And that was the source of my anger. I had to realize that people DO argue, and family members hurt each other intentionally and non-intentionally, but we get over it. We push each other to those points, and often we are too wrapped up in it all to notice. Everyone has their limits and no one is perfect. I can see that I have made many similar mistakes, and I have also hurt people instead of being completely rational.

So, yeah. My parents upset me and make some decisions that weren’t the wisest. But how can I judge my parents on 19 years of parenting by the handful of incidents that can still boil my blood just to think about? I would much rather judge them by the many ways in which I do want to be just like them, because not many people can say that about their parents, and I am proud that I can.

I want to be able to enjoy the little things with my kids, like taking a walk around the neighborhood after rain to watch them jump in puddles. I want to take them on a walk in the fall, and watch them scramble to collect the largest leaf that they can. I want to cheer them up when they are sick by bringing them a new coloring book and a bunch of lollipops. I want to make play-doh, and pizzas and easy bake cakes. I never want to be so busy that I can’t go on a bike ride with them, or take them to a local school or park to fly a remote controlled plane that was so desperately wanted for Christmas. I want them to come home on a holiday to surprised decorations that transform the whole house. I want to be able to pick my children up from school everyday (when I am not 30 mins late, here’s looking at you mother), waiting with the occasional treat for them to tell me about their day. I want to support my children by going to every performance of theirs that I can, and being their biggest fan at competitions an hour away that they know nothing about (thanks for coming to all of those cheer conventions dad). I want them to feel comfortable telling me about their lives in every way. I want them to know that full disclosure with me is the best way to deal with situations, especially when they start experimenting and growing as individuals. I want to be there for them when they go through emotional trauma, even if it means just writing a note and leaving it for them to see when they wake up, or letting them cry. I want to allow them to do their best academically, without being overbearing and threatening or punishing them for low results. I want to be able to support their choice to attend an amazing university, instead of accepting a full ride from one that their heart isn’t at. I want to be a friend who they can text or call to talk about all of the crazy things that are going on in my college life. I want to be the reason that they feel grounded in their home town, with memories of 4th of July parties and illegal fireworks, family gatherings, trampolines, birthday parties and more. I will be the supportive person that my parents modeled for me, who will push for my children to do great things by self-defined standards.

College has given me the distance that I needed to see all of those things. Despite the harsh words I doled out as a kid, I wouldn’t trade my family for any other. My mother has become more than just that, she is now my friend. I look forward to conversations with her and my dad because I can’t take it for granted anymore. I live 500 miles away, and it looks like over the next few years that distance will continue to grow, not shrink as I go on study abroad adventures and eventually attend graduate school.

What triggered all of this? Not the realization that my parents are great people, and not that they are great parents. What triggered all of the sudden appreciation, why now, almost 2 years after I left home? It was surprisingly simple, an activity that I had to participate in a leadership workshop. I had to name a handful of experiences that have shaped who I am, and a few of my fears. I had a large amount of experiences that have shaped who I am, but only a few things that I am truly afraid of. A few of those are falling behind (in school, and in life), not getting to travel, and not finding a family and being happy with myself. But the fears that brought tears to my eyes the second I thought about them were these; not having my father be able to walk me down the aisle, and not having my mother see her grandchildren. And that is the moment that I realized, I do not give my parents enough credit or appreciation for everything that they have down for me, or acknowledgment for being amazing parents. Because at the end of the day, I enjoy just being able to call them like friends, and they are the ones that I cherish the most.

Thank you.