A Letter To My Mother
He came to my room every night while he was supposed to be in bed with you. You didn't take care of yourself, so you couldn't take care of us. I'd tell you about him standing above me, pleasuring himself while I watched. You'd tell me that at least I have two parents that love each other, because you never did. You told me that you'd protect me. And, then you told me to go to my room and read a book or something, because you had stuff to do. You starved yourself and then worked too hard doing unimportant things until you crashed so hard that nothing would wake you. He knew you couldn't protect us.
My sisters tell me that they told you. As soon as you started dating him, they told you how he touched them. You responded by inviting him to move in...
They lived in terror, huddled together in the same bed, hoping he wouldn't come into their room. And, then you married him, and got pregnant deliberately. You brought me into that family, knowing what I would endure. You tried to make me keep it a secret, bearing the burden by myself, hanging onto that guilt so you wouldn't look like a bad mother.
When I was 16, I met my first love. I didn't know that, early in my relationship with him, you pulled him aside and forced him to promise that he wouldn't have sex with me unless we were married. You made him give his word, knowing he was a man of his word. But, you also made him promise not to tell me. He and I struggled, eventually breaking up, because of that promise you forced on him. A promise he didn't feel he had a choice about. As adults, he's told me about this conversation with you, and how much it hurt him. I have to be honest-- when I found out about it, I hated you a little.
I know you had a difficult childhood. I know your mother dumped you with strangers for years at a time. I know you were molested and physically abused. I know that you were on your own for good by the age of 12. But, you also knew that you wanted a better life for your children. For a minute, I thought that might happen. When I was 17, you finally left him. It was my fault that you left him-- I came home one night, and you weren't there. It was cold, and my boyfriend had just broken up with me. He'd dumped me off a mile from home in the November cold with no coat. I got home and hurried to get in the house, because I could barely feel my face, and my teeth chattered so hard that I kept biting my tongue. I got in the house, and somehow I managed to get away and barricade myself in my room. When you got home, I showed you the bruises my boyfriend had left on me, and I told you what my father had done. I told you that I couldn't do this anymore. Wouldn't. That it was him or me. We left that night.... and five years later, you remarried him.
You're an old woman now. When I see you, I never know if you're going to be Loving Mom or Hateful Mom. Hateful Mom shows up more often, tells me I'm fat (my BMI is perfectly average!), and boring because all we do is sit in my living room while you talk. You rant about the same things every time, hating a relationship that you stay in by choice. You pretend to be a martyr for staying with him, forgetting that you sacrificed your children to love this man.
You're so full of anger and bitterness, and it breaks my heart. I feel so very sorry for you, and while I've really tried to help you, it's clear to me that you really don't want help. And that's okay.
Somehow, despite that traumatic childhood, I turned out okay. I have succeeded beyond all odds and am a kind person, with great friends, hope, and a world I care about deeply. I’m happy being me, uncensored. I no longer need for you to see me as the person you want me to be, the impact your choices have had on me, or even to hope for an apology. Ever. I’m living my life to its fullest expression!
While I can forgive you for the part you played in the tragedy that was my childhood, and I can love you simply because you are a fellow human and the woman who birthed me, I know that these words will never reach you... but, getting these words down has been very healing for me. It is my hope that writing these words will give me the confidence I need to create a healthy space between us, a space that will mean that I will no longer be triggered when I see you. That I can stay centered in my own power.
The gift of this life experience means that the catastrophic horror of abuse ends here. When I have children, they will be loved and seen. When I choose to adopt, I will know that I am giving those children two parents that are real, genuine, and good-hearted.
I guess, what I know is that no matter what life throws at us, we choose who we are and how we handle our situations… and I choose to be more than how my life started. I am more than my life with you. I am my own powerful force of nature.
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