My parents do not like me.

I know that they love me. I know that they have given up everything for me. They moved to the U.S. for me. They gave up their home and community for me. They condemned themselves to forever live as outsiders for me. They love me more than anyone ever will.

But they do not like me. I see it when they look at me — this persisting veneer of disappointment. I know they wish that I was someone better. They wish that they did not waste their one chance at legacy on me. My parents do not believe that I am a good person. My parents do not believe I deserve to be protected. My parents do not believe that they should ever take my side. And that ruins me.

When I was a child and complained of my teachers being mean to me, it was always, “What did you do?” When I told them of the abuse my ex put me through, it was, “Don’t do anything brash that would hurt him.” When I used to come crying to them in the middle of the night, it was, “You’re being overdramatic.”

I wish their concerns were only about something as trivial as academic disappointment. I wish they were dissatisfied with my grades — I could work on that. Or at the very least, I could blame it on my brain’s incapability to understand material. I wish it was because I was not smart enough. Their disappointment would not be my fault. I would even be okay with it if they did not like my appearance. If I was not pretty enough, I could blame genetics.

But I cannot blame their dislike for my character on anything but myself. They do not like who I grew up to be. There is something fundamentally wrong with who I am, and because of that, my parents cannot bring themselves to like me.

I need my parents to like me. I think everyone does. I know that they are forced to love me. They are compelled by biology; they do not have a choice in that,  but they are not forced to like me. This is a choice they have to make. Love is not a choice and thus, love is not enough. For so long, because they did not like me, I did not like myself.

But I have grown away from the self-hatred imposed upon me by how much my parents dislike me. I am powerless to change their feelings about me. But I am not powerless to change how I feel about myself. It is sad that my parents do not both love me and like me, but I have so many people who do. This is enough. I like myself and that is enough.

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