you would probably be bewildered or feel bothered if you got this letter for real, plus I don’t know if you even still live where we used to live of if you’ve moved . . . so I’ll just put my words out there at nobody in particular. But they are meant for you.
In case you are wondering who this even is: it’s me, Lola, who you gave birth to 26 years ago this December. The girl you were “stuck with”, as you never neglected to point out, for 15 years. But believe me, I chose this even less than you did. I didn’t choose you to be my mother. I did not choose a sick pervert to be your husband. I did not choose to be conceived. Ending up with you and in the crap life you’ve made for yourself was just what I got dealt and have to live with somehow. So this is not really about you, but about me.
Every holiday season I think of you. Not because I choose to, either (trust me, I’d rather think of good stuff) but because I can’t help it. It’s been that way ever since I got removed from your life. I’ve been in a mental health institution of one sort or another year for year after that, watching pretty much everyone be released home for Christmas, even if it was only for a few hours, or if they were too unwell to leave, they at least got visits by their families.
Do you know how it feels to have nobody? To get a cheap card by a case worker, maybe, and that’s it? For me that put a razor sharp edge on every holiday light, on every decorated tree, on everything nice that Christmas could be so that instead of joy it gave me pain. It was nothing but a reminder that I was unwanted, unloved. Locked away and forgotten. Being the reason why poor staff who have to work on Christmas can’t go home to be with their families. One year it was only me and two staff. I took an overdose of pills on that day, only so I would get admitted to the hospital, where people worked anyway. So the staff could go home, because I couldn’t stand watching them be miserable at work only because of me. Because I had nowhere else to go.
But that’s not really what I want to tell you. That’s just to explain why I have been thinking of you every single December. Why I am thinking of you now.
What I really want to tell you is that it is not that way anymore. For once in my life I got lucky. I was offered a chance to participate in a pilot project for a study that aimed to compare the effects of home care in a host family in addition to therapy to a control group who remained within their usual environment. It may not come as much of a surprise to you that I got kicked out of that study for not sticking to the therapy rules, mother, as the one thing I remember you telling me the most was that I was a waste of time and a failure at anything I did.
What probably comes as a surprise for you, though, is that despite having gotten kicked out of the study, my family kept me. For no pay, nothing. They kept me because they wanted to. And you know what? They adopted me. Did you know it was possible to adopt adult people? See, I didn’t. But it is. I am officially theirs now. They wanted me.
I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t like my family. They are everything you despise and look down on. You’d call them square suburbians who have no idea about anything but rich-people whims and woes, out of touch with what “real life” is like. But you know what? They have something you never had, as long as I knew you. They have hearts that they know how to use. They are kind and compassionate and probably way too good for me, but even so they want me. They give me a second chance to grow up. And who knows, maybe I will.
I am not spending Christmas alone anymore. I am with my family, who love me. And I love them back, more than I can say. You don’t know how scary that can be, truly loving someone and being desperately afraid of losing them. Feeling like anything I could possibly give them back is worthless, because years spent with you made me think it is.
What I am giving my family now – my love, my heart, my best shots at stuff, my everything – I wanted to give to you. You have no idea how much. I loved you and wanted to make you happy and proud of me and I wanted nothing more than for you to love me back. Part of me still wants that, even after all the hurt. But you didn’t want it. I gave you the ticket to my heart, time and again, stuffed it in your pockets when you weren’t looking and put it in your hands when you were too drunk to notice. All you did was tear it apart. I fixed it as many times as I could to give it to you again, hoping this time you’d want it, but you never did. And after a while I understood you. The ticket to my heart had turned into such a miserable, crumpled thing from all the tearing apart, throwing away and fixing, how could you possibly want it?
What I did not understand was that even a mangy ticket to a heart covered in scratches and scars could be worth wanting. My mom wanted it. My dad wanted it.
I am in a good place now, mother. Maybe not yet emotionally, but physically. And I am recovering. I am determined to use this chance and prove your words wrong.
I still think of you often and even when sometimes it’s really hard to live with the imprint you left on my mind and my heart, I think part of me still loves you, too. Other parts of me hate you and feel sad and lots of other things and there is certainly no room in my life for you, but from a distance, I love you. Still. If there is any part of you, no matter how small, that can think like a mother would, maybe that part will be happy to know that I am okay.
I wish you no ill. There were times when I did, but I don’t anymore. I am incredibly sad for everything we lost and can never again have, and the pain of your abandonment still sears like a fresh wound on some days, but I am coping. I have a life to live now. And even when the holidays are still difficult, I am learning to enjoy them now, too. I hope the good starts to outweigh the bad eventually.
May the same be true for you, too.
Farewell from a distance,
– some memries of my mother
– on what my mother suffered from
– on my family
– on why my mom is a “good enough” parent, and why my mother wasn’t