A Thank You Letter To ‘Shameless’ From All The Strong Girls Watching

Thank you for showing what a dysfunctional family looks like. Not the soft kind on sitcoms who have silly arguments that always end in kisses and a lesson learned. The kind with abuse. The kind with alcoholism. The kind with toxic family members. The kind with real problems, problems that go beyond disagreeing over a boyfriend or the leftovers in the fridge.

Thank you for showing that children don’t have to become their parents. That, even if they have tainted genes, addictions that are passed down to them, they aren’t destined to fall down the same self-destructive path as their mom and dad. They can choose to be different. They can work to change themselves. They can take the shit hand they have been given and make something special out of it.

Thank you for showing what it’s like to be stuck inside of a toxic environment. To grow up too early. To learn from an early age that some people, even your own family members, aren’t deserving of your time and effort, even though they raised you and put a roof over your head. Thank you for showing how sometimes you have to raise yourself, you have to take care of yourself, you have to put yourself first because no one else is going to do it for you.

Thank you for showing how much success someone can gain, even though they come from nothing. For making it clear that someone’s wealth and status have no correlation to their creativity and intelligence. For making it clear that it doesn’t matter what kind of house you grew up in, because you can still accomplish whatever you set out to do. You can still go to college. You can still start your own business. You can still make something of yourself.

Thank you for showing the reality of relationships. For showing couples come together and fall apart. For showing important relationships end and finding out that both parties are still breathing, still surviving without the other person. Thank you for making it clear that you can get over any heartbreak, even if you thought it was going to last a lifetime. Thank you for showing not everything lasts — and that is actually okay. That can actually lead to growth.

Thank you for showing how hard it is to make it through your twenties. For how hard it is to scrounge together enough money to pay for your own place. For how hard it is to make it until graduation day and get a steady job without losing your goddamn mind.


Thank you for showing Lip working to overcome his alcoholism. Thank you for showing Ian comfortable with his sexuality. Thank you for showing Fiona make something of herself without anyone helping her succeed.

Most of all, thank you for reminding me I’m not alone in my struggles. For making me realize I’m not as fucked up as I feel. Thank you for showing me a family I can actually relate to for once, because it helps to know I’m not the only one going through this shit. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Holly is the author of Severe(d): A Creepy Poetry Collection.

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