Dear (as if!) Stepmother,

The anger that encompasses me right now isn’t an all-encompassing, all-consuming one, but it isn’t an altogether trivial seething either. This anger is sympathetic to your past and your internalized misogyny and sexism that allows my father to “keep you in your place.” Often, I wonder why you haven’t divorced yet, but I think you might have just done it to get immigration papers from him. Of course, it isn’t my place to say if that is “low” or not, so that’s something I haven’t expressed to you or anyone else. Unfortunately, you haven’t been as kind.
You denied ever having spent thirty minutes wasting my mother’s phone card (after you told her I wasn’t home, even though I was!), talking to her about how terrible, lazy, fat, worthless, and stupid I am. You dismissed how you barged into my room later that day and smugly told me how my mother agreed about you saying that I was all of those derogatory adjectives. You insist that I’m rude, have no manners, and don’t do things around the house. You incriminate me for going out and staying in, and you tell all of your friends atrociously fabricated lies about me. I hear you spew hateful words about me to your friends and my father in the kitchen. You won’t admit to spitting rude insults to my face, either, because you sneer that you are only speaking “the truth.” You continually contend that my parents, grandparents, aunt, and other relatives dislike me and like my younger sister much more, when in actuality, you’ve just never had the opportunity to hear what they had to say about you. You claim that my mom didn’t want me to live with her because of my “bad habits,” even though my parents gave me complete control over who my sister and I stayed with during their divorce. You’re outraged that I don’t wish you a “Happy Mother’s Day,” but you’re not my mother and you’ve been hostile to me. You gave birth to two children, but I can’t imagine you being even a decent parent. You’re mortified when I talk to my father about it; I know because you barge in seconds later to defend yourself. You’re not family, but guaranteed, I’m not the one isolating you. Each time you force me to listen to you (this is misapplying your adult privilege! Here’s a checklist: 9/11/16/the-adult-privilege-checklist/), I think of middle school and how I used to think I knew better than everyone else. Since then, I’ve grown up a lot. Why haven’t you? And isn’t it enough that I have a periodically physically abusive parent? Why do you think that it would be beneficial to my emotional health to add on verbal abuse? I reject the theory that how people are at their respective places of residence reflects the most about them, and let me tell you why.
My mother, her family, my aunt, and my friends have been my biggest support systems. My figurative “home” has never been here. Sure, sometimes I crave it when I’m out at night, waiting for the second-to-last bus that will take me back to my bed, but that’s just because I’ve slept in the same room for the majority of my life. I’ve never felt comfortable professing myself or beliefs here. You tell me that I don’t do anything and am worthless, but when I go out to escape you, I speak to legislators at the state capitol and lobby for student protection laws. I’ve organized rallies, and educated my peers about how to have safer sex and look past virginity-movement myths. I read feminist rhetoric, and suffer the effects of age discrimination in every aspect of my life because my country hasn’t yet given me the right to vote (one more year!). I smiled in delight when I dialed in to a conference call with President Obama and his administration when I heard that education was the number one issue we spoke about in our 100+ youth round-tables. I spoke about bullying on Dr. Phil, which was signal boosted at my school via loudspeaker announcements and showings of the episode in the Teen Living class on campus. I spoke about my experiences as a youth (of color!) at an organization’s anniversary banquet, where various people sat and reveled regarding how well-spoken, polite, and articulate I was. Tell me I’m worthless, Stepmother. I dare you.
The point of this letter isn’t to degrade you, or maintain that you are a vile person. I’ve read about how children need a positive environment to grow up in, and I wonder why you’re not willing to even speak civilly to me. I don’t believe you have any moral responsibility to me because you haven’t known me (even though you think you do) and don’t own me. I don’t want to be anything like you or my father if I choose to become a parent in the future. I might need therapy, but I will remain resilient and emerge from five years of you and a lifetime with my father a stronger, better, more open-minded, more empathetic, and better read person.
Cheers! One more year and I’m out.

~ by Jacquelyn Fletcher on July 12, 2011.

One Response to “Dear (as if!) Stepmother,”

  1. Wow that is a lot of accomplishments! Very impressive – sounds like you are definitely making a difference in the world around you. How wonderful to read about a young person who cares. I’m glad the negativity at home hasn’t stopped you from trying to be whatever you want to be. You go girl!

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