To My Stepdad

To My Stepdad

A letter of thanks to the man who chose to love me as well as my mother
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Dear Dad,

First, thank you. Thank you for coming into my life in the dreaded years leading to puberty, never running away and choosing to love me when I couldn't love myself. You entered my life when I was nine, I was a snot-nosed brat who thought my mother and I were better off alone, but that was far from true. Mom gave up everything for me and worked harder then she should have all while being alone. You've brought joy to my mother I could have never understood or done on my own.

At first, I refused to accept you as family, allowing the "sperm donor" to have a fatherly title instead of you. He never showed up to my basketball games or even danced with me during a father-daughter dance, that was you. I'm sorry it has taken almost 9 years for me to realize that you are in fact my dad, but I'm also sorry for praying you would leave those first couple of years. Through the years our relationship wasn’t always perfect we both had to learn how to do this whole “step-dad and daughter thing” and you and I both know at times we really sucked at it.

I want to emphasize that although you’re legally my stepdad, you are and forever will be my DAD. You’re the reason I was introduced to the heavy metal genre. Our nights of Rockband not only introduced me to Paramore, a band you’ve taken me to see twice, but also helped me accept my singing voice and look at me now, I'm in my college’s Show Choir. I credit a lot of my dirty mouth and mind to you as well and although the grandparents might not like it, it’s my greatest tool for comedy.

Lastly thank you for coming into my life, without you I would have to deal with moms rants alone. Without you, I wouldn’t have two of the most amazing beings in my life, my siblings. So this Thanksgiving, although I won’t be with you, please know that all the way from Chicago I love you and Thank you.

-Love Banana.



Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Blocking Toxic Family Members Can Be Just What You Needed

It isn't an easy choice but it can be the most rewarding.

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I haven't written for the Odyssey in quite some time due to this large issue in my life that I feel some people may also need to hear. Watching your parents go through a divorce can be difficult in itself, but what about having to remove one of your parents from your life at the same time? It's something I don't think many people could imagine doing. However, sometimes you are forced into the position between choosing what is best for your mental health or what is expected of you. For me, I realized that I needed to put myself first.

I realized that I am my own person. How I present myself and how I act and what I choose to believe in is how the world perceives me. I was faced with a parent who did not let me be who I am. The way I thought had to be in line with theirs. What I openly spoke about had to be in line with that parent's thoughts. This also, in turn, meant I had to revolve how I was perceived to the world around that parent's family. I had to abide by these societal norms and do what someone else expected of me. I realized that was ludicrous.

This parent was also abusive. They were toxic and manipulative and I could not stand idly by and just take that from them while also trying to become an independent young adult. I was forced to sit and watch one of my parents transform into someone I didn't recognize anymore. I had to watch them ignore any kind of reality checks and continue to feign innocence. I watched one of my parents mentally manipulate people I once called family into believing lies. I kept my head down and shut my mouth and kept taking the abuse. Now I'm at a point where I can confidently say that I am no longer afraid.

I was forced to cut ties with a parent that raised me, cared for me, attended school functions, fixed toys, bought me my first phone. I was forced to chuck out priceless memories for my own sanity. I could not sit idly by and allow myself to endure one more second of lies or abuse. I had to stand up for myself for once in my life and I blocked most of my family. I blocked cousins, aunts, uncles, and godparents. I changed my phone number that I had since 6th grade. I gave no warning and disappeared from my family's lives. Do I have regrets? No. I would do it again if I had to because I am so much stronger than sitting there and taking it.

I will have one less parent at my college graduation, which I am fighting so hard to achieve. I will have one less parent at my wedding. My future children will have one less grandparent. I mope in these thoughts but then I have to remember the other side of things. I will not have an unsupportive parent at my graduation and instead will have those that were there every step of the way. I will lack someone who was toxic at my wedding. My future children will never have to face the same abusive, toxic situations that my parent put me through. It was a difficult decision to make but one that I know in my heart is worthwhile.

Cutting a family member out of your life is difficult enough but cutting a parent is unimaginable. However, no one deserves to go through abusive situations. It shouldn't matter who the person is; if someone is treating you less than you deserve to be treated, they have no use being in your life. You should always be your first priority. You should never have to endure something for the sake of others. I am here to tell you that you are more than that and that cutting out a family member could actually be the best thing for you, even if it's incredibly difficult. I did it and I'm still here. It made me realize who my real family was, and there will never be enough thank you's in the world to show my mother just how much I appreciate her.

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