You taught me to be nice, so that now I am full of niceness, I have no sense of right and wrong, no passion. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” you said, so I am very quiet, which most people think is politeness. I call it repression.
You have taught me to fear strangers and their illicit designs, robbing me of easy companionship, making me a very suspicious friend. Even among those I know well, I continue to worry: what do they really mean by liking me?
Even now, I go to someone’s house and think I am a good guest if I am very quiet, don’t ask for anything, and refuse anything that’s offered. This behavior makes other people think of me as a nincompoop.
Your own mistakes you managed to explain to your own satisfaction. When you hurt people, you explained that you didn’t mean to. When you gossiped malicious gossip, you explained that ”everyone knows this and besides it’s true.” You had a good reason for every dumb thing you did which you said I would understand someday. I don’t. I don’t understand it at all.
You instilled in me a paralyzing nostalgia for a time before I was born, a time when men were men and women were saintly, and children were obedient, industrious, asked no luxuries, entertained themselves, and knew right from wrong. I, on the other hand, was a symptom of everything going to hell in a handbasket. I was left to wonder why I bothered to be born.
Your mindless monogamy made me vacillate in love, your compulsive
industry made me a prisoner of sloth, your tidiness made me sloppy, your materialism made me wasteful.
I wasted years in diametrical opposition, thinking you were completely mistaken, and wound up living a life based more on yours than if I’d stayed at home.
Everything I said had hidden meaning for you, even. “I’m going to bed.” “You can’t even spend a few minutes talking to your parents?” you said.
Now you call me on the phone to ask, “Why don’t you ever call us? Why do you shut us out of your life?” So I start to tell you about my life, but you don’t want to hear it. You want to know why I didn’t call.
I didn’t call because I don’t need to talk to you anymore. Your voice is in my head, talking constantly from morning till night. I keep the radio on, but I still hear you and will hear you until I die, when I will hear you say, “I told you,” and then something else will happen.