Letters

A Letter of Gratitude

Dear _____,

I don’t think I ever thank you enough for everything you do for me.

For so many years, you’ve just been my rock. I never asked you to do it, but you always did for me. You covered for me when I was doing something you’d know I’d get in trouble for. I’m so absent minded about the consequences, cause you’ve always sheltered me from them. The worst part about it all, is I know that ideally – I’m supposed to be the one that does that for you. I’m the elder sister, I should be watching over you, setting a good example, being your rock. But for reasons I can’t really explain, I just never took that role seriously. I never wanted to have the pressure of being someone’s rock in case I fail, I’ve seen so many instances where the elder sister makes so many sacrifices for the younger one, and never ends up living their life the way they wanted to. I just see it as a vicious cycle and it’s so unfair.

I wanted to be able to live my life on my terms, and hoped that you’d be able to live yours as well. I see now that it’s just never going to be that way. I end up looking like the selfish one now, because I’ve only been thinking about what I want to do, and I never looked at how it affects your life and your decisions. I wish we were treated as separate individuals in the house. I know that of course, that’s just me dreaming, because we’ll always be treated as a collective. That’s what upsets me the most, my actions not only affect me, they affect you too. And I can see that when we’re children that may help our upbringing, but now that we’re both adults, I feel like it’s getting to be too much.

In some ways, the only way I see things changing is if we took the collective mentality towards a different direction. Like if we were both ‘bad’ per say, or ‘good’ per say, then of course treating us as a collective would be helpful. But when one person (me) is seen as ‘bad’ and the other person (you) is ‘good’ but is now seen as ‘bad’ because of me, it’s obviously counter-productive. They’re penalizing you for something you never did, just because I did it. And I get that the meaning behind it is, “If I loved you enough as a sister, and if I was a good sister, I’d never let you suffer like that”. I’d therefore be more conscious of my actions, and make better decisions because I wouldn’t want you to suffer because of me. Of course it’s the perfect parenting method in their eyes because, my love for you is supposed to make me make better decisions for both you and me.

At the same time, being the elder sister also means breaking the mold. Which I know I’ve more than broken it. It’s completely shattered now. There’s no remnants of any sort of wall needing to be broken, they can’t expect anything worse from you now that the first born has done all the damage. I can go as far back as going to school dances in middle school. I had to fight so much to go to those things, looking back they weren’t even that important, but to me at the time it was. Then, going to high school dances, semi-formals, after-school clubs. All of that was made a little easier for you because I went through it and I survived so they figured the younger one will be okay. I know that’s definitely where I went right. I at least did that for you.

I know I’ve made desicions that to a parent, doesn’t look healthy, or progressive in any sense of the way. I smoke weed, I’m not done my post-secondary education, I’ve been in post-secondary education for over 6 years now with no degree in sight. I’m dating someone I know they wouldn’t approve of. I lost my virginity at 16. I go out late at night, and don’t come home till early in the morning. I know I’ve caused a lot of stress and pain for both you and mom. And I’m sure dad gets a little bit of the highlights here and there when mom can’t handle it anymore. But you, you get it the worse _____. And I don’t even know how many sorry’s or thank you’s would be enough to show you that I never wanted any of those decisions to affect you.

I mean it from the bottom of my heart. With that being said, I guess I should’ve known better. If I know exactly how the mentality of our mother is – treating us as a collective, then I guess her point’s been proven. I didn’t love you enough to make better decisions for the both of us. I valued living my life on my own terms more than what the consequences would be for you. I admit now that I’ve been completely selfish. It’s been so many years now that I’ve been doing this to you, that I don’t know if I can ever repair the damage. I’m sure your life has now gone in a different direction than you intended because of the decisions I made for my own life. I see now that with how our parents are, that me being overly westernized hasn’t helped them progress at all. If anything, mom’s regressed even further. I know dad’s always been a little more open minded. But he’s not around to help mom raise us.  She doesn’t have a shoulder to cry on or to console with. She’s been raising us alone, and knows nothing better than tradtional thinking from back home.

I’m not stupid. I know all of this. I’m aware of it. And yet, I continue to do what I want because honestly I still believe that at the end of the day, even if I was born from my mother’s womb, my life is my own. No one owns my life but me. And by me making that my priority I’ve made sure I’ve lived my life with no regrets. I wish you did that too. I wish you lived your life and didn’t worry so much about the consequences. I feel like if we both did what made us happy, we’d have two out of three people being happy in the house, and if we were both happy, we could help mom find happiness too. I don’t know if that makes any sense, maybe I’m living in some sort of fantasy world where that would actually work. Realistically, with how traditional our mom is (albeit she’s a little more progressive than the rest of her family back home because of where we’re living now), I should’ve known that making her happy would mean being that perfect daughter for her. It’s just unrealistic _____. I learned from a young age, fairly quickly that what mom wanted, was unattainable.

No matter how much you do, or how ‘good’ you are, it will never be enough.

I can guarantee it. If I had been the daughter she always wanted she’d only want more from me. And I know that in my heart, I’m a good person, with good intentions. The only thing that’s hurting her is the fact that I’m living my life on my own terms. And I understand that I could’ve had a little more patience with it. I could’ve waited till I lived on my own to explore life in my own way. But I really don’t know how long it will be till I live on my own. Quite honestly, it’s getting harder and harder for people of our generation to find a place of our own and just move out as easily. If I moved out now, it would be a stupid move on my part. I’d sacrifice a lot to do so. I’d live in harsher conditions, I probably wouldn’t have enough money for food. I’d be working crazy hours at restaurants trying to rack up enough cash just to make rent. I know what I’d be going through, and I’d do it. But it wouldn’t be my ideal situation. I want to finish school and I want to make the most of my intelligence. I know there’s something better out there for me than being a waitress the rest of my life. I have too much going for me to give all of that up.

So I live at home. And I understand that if I chose to live at home then I should abide by the rules.

Mom’s house. Mom’s rules. I get it. I have no arguments against that. I’ve been disrespectful, selfish, and unconcerned with how all my decisions have affected you. And I’m sorry that it took me all this time to write it all out and really see the damage I’ve done.

I of course feel guilty. But the worst part about it all is now I’ve seen too much. I’ve experienced everything I’ve wanted to experience so far, and I don’t want to stop. Whether our parents approve or not, I will not settle for anything less of what I want. Or at least get as close as I can to achieveing it. And if that’s selfish of me then I’ll have to accept that as it is. I understand we are a family, but a family should never prohibit you from doing what you want in life. I understand that they’re only trying to do what’s best for me. Thanks to their upbringing, I can say that most of my success is owed to them.

I’m not some crazy drug addict. I don’t smoke cigarettes. I don’t go clubbing every night and party and have one-night stands with people. I’m not saying I don’t do stupid things at all, I know I do. I’m just sayings there’s levels to stupid decisions people can make, and I personally feel like I’ve made more positive decisions than negative ones. I feel like I have a good head on my shoulders, I do have a set of priorities that are very similar to the expectations of what my priorities should be by our parent’s standards:

Priorities in chronological order:

  1. Health: making sure that both my mind and body are healthy is extremely important to me. Dad’s always kept me aware of it, and I’ve always put it on the top of my list because if I’m not healthy, then nothing else matters.
  2. Education: having a good head on my shoulders, making sure that I’m educated enough to seek out the information to make the best decisions for myself. I no longer need to rely on mom and dad for information on how life works. There’s so many resources out there for me to explore on my own. And with post-secondary education I can at least say that once I finally get my degree I’ll be in a better place than I’m in now and hopefully get a full-time job.
  3. Money: the root of all problems in the world. I hate that this has to be a priority, but unfortunately in life, we need money to survive. And I want to have enough money someday to be able to help mom out with her finances, to help you out, to be able to not have to struggle or work as hard for my money as mom has for hers.
  4. Family: I know it seems pretty far down the priority list. But it’s definitely a part of my top 5. Now family means different things to many people. For me it’s my own family. My future family. If I ever have one. With that being said, the family I’m living with right now is my priority until then. You are very important to me, so is mom, so is dad. All the people we’re related to are also a big part of my life. Our cousins that I’ve lived with while I was in school, they mean so much to me too, they’ve become such a big part of my life, and I value all of you. I’d hope that I could have you as a part of my life for years to come.
  5. Significant Other: I don’t know how long I’ll be with _____, but right now he’s very important to me. I love him, I care for him, and ideally, I wish he wasn’t someone our parents didn’t approve of. He’s honestly an amazing man. I know you may have other ideas about him, but he has so many good qualities, and he comes from such a good family, and if I love him, I wish that was enough for everyone else to accept him. I understand that things may never pan out the way I want them to, but my priorities are in chronological order for a reason. Whether I decide to be with him the rest of my life or not, I will never try to alienate my family if I choose to be with him despite them (our parents/family/community) disapproving him. I will always reach out to family and hope that someday they realize I’m with someone that makes me so happy, and treats me so well. And that I’m not blindly in love, and that I made a decision that worked for me.
  6. Friends: I know I have a lot of them. And I care about a lot of them sure, but they’d never come before family 100%. Just know that. Friends will come and go, so of course they’re never going to be a part of my top 5 – but that doesn’t mean that I won’t support them if need be. I’m just that kind of person. I see the good in everyone (a little too much sometimes), and I want to help if I can. Plus we have fun together! That’s what friends are for. They’re like a secondary family you know? A family not made by blood, but by bonds. Sure, I’m aware bonds can break and we may fall out, but that’s why they are where they are in my list of priorities.
  7. Hobbies/Interests: things that I like to do on my spare time: eat good food, explore places, go hiking, travel the world, writing, reading, drawing, watching movies/TV, etc. The list goes on! I can’t do any of those things without my other priorities being in check. And when I say being in check – I don’t mean everything being 100% okay. Of course I’m still in school so that priority is still being met which allows me to enjoy life a little inbetween, I’m still maintaining a job – to give me an income that enables me to do these things as well; and of course again, I maintain relationships with both friends and family to do these things with and share these moments in life with.

Being able to experience the world in my own terms requires a lot of other priorities being met, and I know that. Family is #4 on my list, and I know that’s so confusing because how can they be such a big priority and I’ve managed to hurt mom and you so much. It makes no sense right? But the thing is, I’ve never done anything to truly hurt you or mom. My decisions that I made are my own only. I’m technically only hurting me (if you consider any of the choices I make being hurtful). Mom chooses to let my decisions hurt her. And I know I will never truly understand what that means until I become a mother myself, but she needs to understand that you and me are both adults now and that we’re two different people. She needs to understand that you’re not responsible for my decisions and I’m not responsible for yours.

I want you to know that I love you very much, and I wish that things were different for you. I wish you got to enjoy life a little more. I wish you didn’t condone mom’s behaviour. I wish you didn’t take it upon yourself to be so responsible for so many things that you don’t have control over. None of this is your responsibility. Yes we were born from mom’s womb but we’re not responsible for the choices she made in her life, we’re only responsible for our own choices. And I know that because you love mom you want to be there for her, I want to too. But just not in this way. I want to take care of mom and support her because of how hard she’s worked to give us the life we’ve been able to have. But I don’t think that I owe her my way of life because of it.

I know that you already know all of this, but I just wanted you to know that I know that you know. And I know what I said in the previous sentence is confusing as fuck, but yeah it’s cool whatever.

Love always,

_____________________________

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