My letter is written to you, but it's intended for me. To clear things up inside. To try to understand myself better. To comprehend the perplexity of the human heart.

I can’t even address you as I should. It hurts too much. Should I start with questions? Should I start with telling you what is on my mind? What has been weighing on my heart probably since I was born? Maybe even since you carried me? I don’t know how you felt when you carried me, but I assume it was not the healthiest feelings. I do know though that you did not want to see me for the first few minutes of my life. My life that has plagued you.

I don’t know how to write this letter at all. It is so deeply recessed in my heart, in the innermost chambers. I was too scared to enter these chambers. I didn't have the emotional strength to go there. You have given me a lot of grief. I have been a crippled human being because of you. I have grown up without parents and have never been a child because of you. I have never known what it means to trust someone because you have taken that away from me. I have learned to be scared of people, because you made me scared of them.

I learned to be immune to hurt and insults, because you have done it so many times.

I have since learned that lacking a mother and love are things that can never really be filled. I live that void every day. I've learned that when someone loves you, don’t allow it to seep in, because you can never make up 20 or so years of it. I learned to be immune to hurt and insults, because you have done it so many times. It was just a part of life, part of getting up in the morning and pushing through another day.

You taught me to go into my own world, which in itself was not too pleasant, because you were in your own world when I was a child. I learned to see the outside world as a threat, as if people are out to get me. I learned to shy away from good gestures and don't know how to get out of harmful situations because you have alternated between the two, way too often. I learned to just grit my teeth when given criticism, because that's all I ever heard from you. I don't know how to accept praise, because I was never deserving of it. I never learned to laugh, because you never allowed me to. I never learned how to say no when needed, because you never gave me that choice. I don't know how to be a productive member of society, because you demanded me to produce too much.

I am young in years but old in resilience. Too old. I have learned to shirk responsibilities, because you never took it. I learned that punishments come regardless of intentions, because nothing was ever good enough for you. I learned that it’s the simplest to blame others for your shortcomings, because that is what I have always heard from you.

I learned that squelched emotions are much better and safer, because you never let me voice them, and I could not afford to feel them. I learned that it is okay to be alone in this world, because you did not allow anyone into my world. I learned that it is safer to hide, because if I was around, you would always get at me. I learned how to be there, yet be invisible, because if I was seen, it never ended well. I learned that you should never admit to your wrongdoings, because I was always blamed for your mistakes. I learned that if you’re hurt, you deserve it, because that's what you always told me.

I learned to let people roll all over me, because I believed if I would allow it, I would finally win your approval, your love… I learned that love is conditional, because you put down very harsh conditions. I learned that values are valueless, because you didn't have any. I learned to beg for what I need, because that was the only way I got anything.

I learned too many things to list. Most of them were negative. But one positive thing that life has taught me is that just when I feel that I can’t go on any more, God sends another spurt of strength.

I pray that I take adversity with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child.

I just wish I would have learned it in a different way. I just wish that I had parents that I can be proud of, that my childhood would not have been wasted like that. I just wish that I would not be so crippled by your teachings and your crookedness. How I wish that I would have known a different life, that I would have known right from wrong through your teachings. I know the wrongs, but I do not know the rights.

I want to be able to tell you all this, but I'm not ready, and I might never be. I want to give my children, please God, everything that I did not get, but how do I do it? I want to know where the balance between love and discipline is, but I never saw it. Maybe it is one and the same thing. You can’t discipline without love.

I hope that one day you will be proud of me, even though I have a hard time knowing that I give you nachas. But I realize, most importantly, I need to be proud of myself.

I pray that my life may be a lesson for my future years. That I learn only good things from my past. That I take adversity with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child. That I do not lean on my handicaps, but that I use it to push me forward and upward.

I hope that one day I will be able to stand up proudly and say that I have come out the winner, in spite of my past. Or maybe because of it.

The writer is using a pseudonym.