A Letter To My Dysfunctional Family

My dear dysfunctional family,

I was taught that family is a concept that has been passed onto us since the beginning of civilization. Family is supposed to be your safe place. This term should instill a sense of belonging and security in you. They are supposed to be standing with you, having your back when there is no one else. I was under the illusion that family is supposed to love and assist you unconditionally but what I wasn’t aware of was that they would do all this only if you fulfill and behave in the manner which is acceptable to them.

There is nothing like “unconditional love” and you helped me figure it out. The moment I decided that I did not want to become a doctor but a psychologist, all your support and encouragement just vanished. I still can’t help myself but ponder upon the reason behind you abandoning and leaving me especially when I needed you the most. This shook my entire belief system. Apparently, everything I have been believing in was a lie. 

You know, when father and uncle used to tell us stories about how difficult it was for them to go to school when they were kids themselves because our grandparents were not that well off, I often felt guilty because I was provided with everything they weren’t as a child. It always felt like a burden I have to get rid of. The motive behind telling us the story might have been different or simply to make us appreciate the things you’ve done for us but, in all honesty, it did nothing but made us feel bad about ourselves. I used to feel worthless in front of you. It made me feel inferior and like a spoiled brat, which in reality, I am not. Maybe this was the incident which opened my eyes and made me see what a dysfunctional family I have!

Well, now that I come to think of it, the things that I grew up listening to and seeing were not at all “normal”. While there hadn’t been any physical signs of oppression or abuse but there were many subtle ones which left quite an impact on me. I mean, I have tried my best to be an understanding and supportive daughter. I grasped onto every opportunity I got to prove myself, to prove that I can too do something with my life, that I am no less than my brothers. How foolish I was back then! Trying to please you and so desperate to make you proud of me. In all this process, I simply forgot to vocalize my own thoughts and beliefs. I forgot that I deserve to be encouraged to follow up my dreams. I forgot that I am entitled to my own thoughts and beliefs. I forgot I am my own person and so are you. I am not responsible for your happiness. No matter how ungrateful it might make me sound but that is the truth. 

I apologize for being so crude but this is simply the result of my suppressed curiosity. Why didn’t we have a normal conversation to resolve all the disagreements we had? Why couldn’t we just communicate freely and openly to sort out our differences, instead of you showing all kinds of irritated and annoyed gestures. I know for a fact that this is not healthy. This is basically you emotionally manipulating me to do as per your liking.

I have never complained or whined about the lack of time you used to give me. I have never resisted against the restrictions and rules you placed. I always accepted your brutal criticism and tried my best to improve myself. I have always tried to be your perfect daughter, the kind of daughter you have always wished for.

I know and respect the fact that our family is not the most affectionate family. It is the kind of dysfunctional family who firmly believes in tough-love but still, a few affectionate pats or a few words of encouragement in a while, won’t hurt. All I needed was your approval and encouragement but it turns out, you have nothing to offer me but advice and comments. However, those dismissive remarks used to hurt me emotionally as well as mentally. 

I know it is wrong of me to expect you to be perfect. In our society, we worship our families and parents and expect them not to make any mistakes, to always know the right thing to do or say. Now that I am older, I understand the kind of pressure I was subjecting you to. It wasn’t fair to you. After all, you too are humans and are allowed to be flawed. My intention was not to paint you as horrible and awful people but was just to make you realize the mistakes you have made and how they have mentally affected me.

It’s okay, I have accepted it a long time ago that I have a dysfunctional family. I don’t blame you for what happened in the past because we all have been trained to view all these things as normal and taught that this is the way how everything is supposed to work. I just wish that you would realize or at least acknowledge the fact that it’s okay if you fail. I am trying my best to let go of all those bitter emotions and accepting that my family is a little bit dysfunctional but also unique.

-Your not-so-okay daughter.

  1. I adored this letter. It was as if you were speaking all my unsaid thoughts which have buried in the back of my brain. The harsh reality was presented with your beautiful. Thank you for sharing this, even though I bet it would have been very personal and difficult to share. 🙂

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