T: You don’t believe me, but I remember when you would hit me with pots and pans, beat me with belts, throw me down the stairs, kick me in the stomach, and smash my face into the stairs. I know you’re not supposed to be able to remember things from when you’re that little, but quite frankly, I can’t seem to forget. And I did NOT make up the years of abuse I grew up with. I am NOT a liar. YOU are. I know that looking at me is like looking at him, and I know how much you hate that. I know that I’m a reminder of your broken heart and his betrayal. I know I was a difficult baby and child. I’m sorry. I know that my brothers don’t bring up as much painful memories as I do, but it still hurts that you make it so obvious that you prefer them over me. I watch other people with their mothers and wish you looked at me the way their moms look at them. I wish I didn’t cringe every time you hug or kiss me. I have to remind myself every day that our current limited relationship will have to be enough, and that it’s better than no relationship at all. I love you, and you will always be my mother, but if I ever trust myself enough to have children, I will never trust you enough to be alone with them.
D: It took me years, but I know your brothers (and likely others) hurt you the way you hurt me all those times. I know you were confused and hurting. I know you felt alone. I know you just wanted to feel powerful and in control. I don’t hate you. I don’t hate myself anymore. I forgive you. And I feel sorry for you.
C: Thank you for being everything an older brother should be. You stepped up as a young boy and became the parent I never had. I don’t know how you became the person you are and were, because of your own circumstances, but I know I’m the person I am today because of who you were for me. Thank you for protecting me when I needed it, for comforting me when there was nothing else to do, and for putting me in my place when I lacked structure. I compare all of the men in my life to you, because I know I would be lucky to find a man like you. A is lucky to have you as a husband, and I hope everyday that you’re happy. I miss you, because we’re not as close as we used to be, but it’s all right. I know relationships change, especially as we grow up, and especially because you’re three years older than me. But I will never forget what you did for me and who you were to me. Please don’t ever change who you are.
B: You were disgusting. I can’t believe I ever fooled myself into thinking I was in love with you. All I was to you was a toy. I look back and thank God that you broke up with me for that girl three years our junior, just because I wouldn’t put out, because that led to a string of sexual partners– ending with your current wife, whom you impregnated, and were forced to marry. I would have never forgiven myself for allowing myself to live such a life. But I am still hurt that you spread those rumors all around school about us having this elaborate life that never existed. I hope you remember all this while raising your own daughter. Protect her from men like yourself.
K: I have never loved another human being the way I loved you, and I know I wont in the future– not because I don’t believe I will love, but because you taught me that each love is different, it changes and evolves, and can grow or shrink over time. Thank you for an amazing beginning, so that I can have happy memories of us, if I choose to remember you that way. But I’m sorry for the way things ended. I didn’t reject your marriage proposals because I didn’t love you or didn’t want to be with you. I did it because we weren’t ready, and because I knew getting married wouldn’t fix us. I’m sorry I screamed at you and called you names. I honestly just didn’t know what else to do. While I loved you more than anyone else in my entire existence, nobody has ever hurt me like you did. I didn’t know it then, but the abandonment I felt: alone, broke, and friendless in a new town in our apartment while you were out with your friends for days was the best way to break me. You were my first and only lover, and while memories of us moving together at night are some of the best I have, our bad moments together are some of my worst. Thanks to you, I know I am strong. I know I can survive anything. Even feeling dead inside. I will always love you, but not the way I once did. And someone, somewhere, someday, will thank you for letting me walk out your front door. And I know you’ll realize someday that you wish you hadn’t.
S: Some days I think of you as my best friend, and some days I can’t fathom why I call you that. We’ve been incredibly close since high school, but I learned I can’t trust you with my secrets. You taught me that I can’t trust anyone completely but myself. You betrayed me in a way I never believed you ever would, out of jealousy. While I will never tell you anything in confidence again, I still love you. But you’ve put friendships into perspective for me. I’m still learning how to forgive you. But I promised myself I would never bring up that string of betrayals between us, even in anger, unless you brought it up yourself. Here’s to moving on, and acting like mature adults.
R: I’m sorry. I know I’ve hurt you. We have fought verbally, physically, and emotionally since I can remember. I think the battle for our parents’ affection made us enemies from the start. I want you to know I don’t hate you, and I never did. You may be infuriating, rude, and downright ridiculous, but as your big sister, I would do anything for you. I know I find myself blowing up at you for stupid things, and that I have a shorter fuse with you than I do with everyone else, but I swear I will work on it every day till the day I die. I see a lot of what I used to be in you, and it terrifies me. The only difference between you and me is that I woke up one morning with the understanding that I could be different, that I could make a difference, and that I didn’t have to let my circumstances choose my life for me, and you haven’t had that realization yet. While that frustrates and worries me, I promise to show you how much I really love you and support you, rather than how much I disagree with your behavior and life decisions. I know a lot of your self esteem issues are my fault. I’m so sorry for that. I wanted to help you hurry and grow up and get passed the awful things I knew were coming for you, because they got me, too. I didn’t realize that I was actually hurting you. Please forgive me. I wish I could be for you what C was for me. But I can’t change the way things were and are. But I will try to make things that will be, better.
F: You were not mature enough to be a father, but you had no choice. I’m sorry your life was the way it was. You didn’t have much choice in the matter. You were enabled to believe that no circumstance was your fault, and therefore your entire life was the doing of others. While there is a sense of freedom in that perspective, there is also a prison. You felt trapped by your life, without realizing you had the power your entire life.
You fathered several children in several marriages, and I know it hurt you that you couldn’t figure out how to mold your children into what you knew they could be. You didn’t have the right tools for that. While most of your children struggle every day with existence, barely scraping by; and even though you’re not my biological father, you were the only father I knew for 10 years; that you taught me a great deal about life, and I will try my best to make you proud. I know you’re looking down on us now, and you probably have many regrets, but I forgive you for your shortcomings and your methods of punishment. Even though they hurt me, I know now that you were only perpetuating what you were taught. But I will learn from you, and I will be better for having you in my life. I don’t hate you, even though I made you believe I did at one time. I’m so sorry for that. I regret every day that I did not visit you in the hospital before your passing. I’m sorry you couldn’t hear from me that I forgive you and I love you before you left us. That lesson will stay with me as long as I live. I will never take a loved one for granted again as long as I live.
L: You are the best thing to ever happen to my mom. Thank you for that. You are the kindest, sweetest man I’ve ever met, despite your own circumstances. Not that you don’t have biases and shortcomings, but they’re limited and relatively small compared to those I’ve seen in my lifetime. I’m ashamed to say aloud that she doesn’t deserve you, yet you love her anyway. And I love you for that. You make her a better person. I wish you two had met years ago. But maybe you both had to go through what you went through separately in order to work together. Thank you for being her lighthouse in her storm.
C: I know I told you I wanted to take things slow, because of the things I’ve been through. But I think I’m already developing feelings for you, and I’m scared to death. I find myself not responding to your messages or avoiding you because I’m trying to keep that distance, even though I know that’s not fair. I confessed that I never want to get married, but I never told you the reason for that was because I’m terrified of allowing someone to get close enough to me to hurt me the way I’ve been hurt before. I know it’s a little early to be thinking about these things, but I carry all this with me every day. I can’t escape it. Eventually, that’s everyone’s expectation of “normal couples,” but I’m just extremely confused about what I want the overall picture of my life to look like. You’re one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met, which gives me hope, but also terrifies me. Please be patient. Don’t give up on me. Is it wrong to compromise my religious beliefs for a possible future with a guy I believe would treat me right? I struggle with this question every day. That is yet another thing that makes me hesitant to allow me to admit my feelings for you. I know I will eventually have to answer that question. I just hope I don’t make a choice I regret for the rest of my life.