I had a dream a couple of weeks ago, about you. We were in your Mum’s place, and you had just legally emancipated yourself and were living without parental support. And then something happened in my own life, that involved someone else’s child, that really started an emotional process somewhere inside of me — and I am now reflecting on my relationship with you.
I made you a promise shortly after I first met you, and you told me some serious emotional content. I told you you would always be able to talk to me, and when I most needed support, I took the possibility of mine away from you. That was wrong, and I’m sorry. I felt spineless and I feel now like I’ve grown a spinal column. Now I have to face how that must have made you feel, and this has pulled me all the way out of deep sleep into heart ache.
I know you might not get everything I’m saying, because I was 17 once, and I haven’t been able to forget what it was like in all the time that’s passed. Parts of me return every night to this intersection, in a derelict home at the corner of child-free and child-less. I am not a parent, and not entirely by choice, but primarily out of both grief and terror that I am capable of fucking someone else up as much as my parents did. And these emotions were boiling to the surface last year, as I watched helpless and spineless, as one of your parents did things that, while not legally abusive, just didn’t sit right with me. I stand by your decisions at the time even if no one else understands.
And I did then, too. I didn’t tell you because I couldn’t. I didn’t tell your parent, either, because I was — as I keep repeating — behaving as though spineless. I am not a parent and could never be, because many parts of me are still a child. But I am also not a parent even though I had to be, because one of my own parents (my primary caregiver) was not being my parent (in fact, when I was finally an adult, she began acting as though I am her parent). This is something I don’t think I ever told you about myself. Something we shared in secret. Something I saw when I watched you, that I knew then (and still believe) you dealt with the best way you knew how (and were subsequently punished, even for that, just as I was).
What brings me to write all of this now is that other person’s child, who is about 4 years younger than you. I have been quietly terrified for this child for 10 years, and something finally happened that presented the opportunity for me to step up and explain why. But there will never be such an opportunity in your case unless I make one, and that’s what this letter is. The way you were being treated is and was completely unfair. While not even remotely comparable to the way this other person’s child was treated, that doesn’t negate the fact that unfair is still wrong.
And then even I broke my promise to you (I never make promises I can’t or won’t keep). I am so sorry, I can’t even sleep tonight. You deserve better than to have everything you can count on whittled away while everyone around you is afforded every one of those freedoms (the same thing happened to me in my natal home), and when I clicked that post button last year in my last communication to you, I participated in the same process.
This isn’t to say that you never made mistakes. It is to say that I did, and I own that, and I’m sorry. Between the two of us, I’m the one who should know better, because I’m the one who’s already been there. I hope you can believe that I can be a better person now. You have my support if you need or want it.