I’ve been thinking a lot and I owe you an apology. When I think about how I made you feel, I shake my head in disbelief, feeling sick to my stomach that I treated you so poorly and with such a lack of respect and compassion.
I’m sorry that I made you question your worth and doubt that you were deserving of pleasure and joy, kindness and rest. I am sorry that I pushed you so hard and made you feel like you could enjoy yourself only when you reached the ridiculously high standards you set.
I’m sorry I denied you rest even though you were burnt out; that I didn’t celebrate your little victories along the way because it was still so far off from your end goal; that I didn’t allow you a moment to catch your breath even when you felt like you were gasping for air.
I’m sorry that I didn’t believe in you; that I made you question the quality of everything you wrote and did, internalizing so much self-doubt that you constantly sought approval and validation from others.
I’m sorry I denied you the happiness of swimming in the ocean, even though it was so hot and even though you really wanted to because I made you feel embarrassed of your body.
I’m sorry that I made you feel so bad for buying the wrong thing on the menu by mistake that you cried with guilt and then ate a granola bar for lunch the next day to even things out. Yes, I’m sorry for all the times I made you feel guilty for splurging or treating yourself. You didn’t deserve that.
I’m sorry that I made you spend nights at the airport instead of booking a nearby hotel, or that I made you walk in the heat even though your back was aching and your feet were tired instead of taking a taxi, or that I made you book a hard seat on a 24 hour journey through China because deep down, I thought that was all you deserved. All those unnecessary sacrifices you made…I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that I made you feel so undeserving of compliments that you brushed them away and didn’t believe them. I’m sorry that when people did nice things for you, you questioned why because you couldn’t see that you’re a good person who’s more than deserving of acts of love.
I’m sorry I denied you the opportunity to pace yourself and instead, hurried you through the day, making you feel panicked when you didn’t accomplish everything you wanted to. That was very unfair of me. You didn’t need to set your alarm so early just to get everything done on your impossibly long to-do list. You didn’t need to feel stressed out for sleeping in or worry that every second not working towards your end goal was a waste of time.
I am so sorry that I made you feel like your happiness and well-being was conditional on reaching certain milestones or accomplishing certain goals. That I made you feel like only when you got your apartment, or published a book, or built a successful career could you enjoy your life and indulge in simple pleasures.
The truth is, you deserved happiness, rest, and comfort just as you were. Not “one day” but right now. You deserved to buy that coat and not feel guilty about it. You deserved to treat yourself to a gin and tonic just because. And you deserved to buy that painting of Seattle that you still think about from time to time.
I forced you to push away words of encouragement and ignore praise for how far you’ve come, retaliating with arguments for why it still wasn’t good enough. I expected so much of you that you felt like you constantly had to strive to be perfect, or more, or better. I made you feel less than when you were always enough. You didn’t deserve the shame or guilt I instilled in you nor the unreasonable demands I placed on your tired shoulders. I should have shown you more compassion but I didn’t.
I’m sorry I was so hard on you for so long; that I put so much pressure on you to do and keep doing instead of just being. I’m sorry that I talked down to you when you made mistakes or called you lazy when you paused or slowed down for a half a minute. I’m sorry that nothing you ever did was good enough; that I didn’t accept you for who you were and instead focused on everything you were not.
I should have empathized with you but instead I judged you. I criticized your shortcomings instead of encouraging you towards self-improvement with the sensitivity you deserved. I’m sorry I didn’t show up for you in the way you needed me to. You were doing your best and yet I focused on all the things you were doing wrong instead of celebrating the things you were doing right.
I’m sorry I made you feel stuck and overwhelmed instead of accepted and at peace. I’m sorry that I overlooked so many of your strengths, for not giving you nearly enough credit for everything you did accomplish, for all the gifts you brought to the world, for all the joy you brought to others.
Mostly, I am sorry for not loving you the way you deserved to be loved – with gentleness and with generosity – and I promise to be better from this day forth.