The letter I’d love most to receive

Dear Lola

Three days ago I wrote this letter to my birth mother. I’m not going to send it, because I don’t want contact and don’t even know for sure where she lives. Unless she made a u-turn in all aspects of personality, it would do me no good sending the letter anyway, because if she did react, her reaction would probably be just as unhealthy for me as receiving no reaction at all.

Even so, it’s hard to not think about the chance at hearing the words I have so longed to hear for all my life. That’s why I thought why not write those down myself. The one response from my birth mother that I would really, really love to get.

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Dear Lola,

thank you for your letter. To say that I was surprised to hear from you would be an understatement. It must have taken you great courage to write down your thoughts like that.

I feel like there are so many things I should say, but words don’t come easily. I am glad you are in a good place now. I am glad to hear that you have found your family. And I am sorry that things are hard for you.

I know I play no small part in that. I can see now that you suffered at my hands. I was never a good or safe mother for you. Struggling to deal with my own life somehow, I had no eyes or ears or heart for a child. You were my daughter, but all I saw was work and an invader on the life I tried to make for myself. I was only a child myself when I had you, did not know about the needs a little person has and I was unable to care about anyone other than myself. Unable to see anyone else’s situation.

For this I am sorry. I am sorry I never protected you from abuse and pain. I am sorry I added to it. I am sorry I abandoned you. I am sorry I never even said goodbye.

There are a lot of things I could tell you about my own past and my own struggles in this world, but you are right in saying this is not about me, but about you. For this one time, it shall be only about you.

I was never able to feel love for you, but I want you to know that this was not because of you. I am certain that you were a very lovable child. I can see in hindsight how hard you tried to make it easier for me to love you. And how bitter it must have been that all you got was derision and hate. It was not because of you. It was because I was not in a place to love anyone. For that I am sorry. You would have deserved so much better than that.

What you deserve is the family you have now. You deserve a mother who loves you and protects you, and a father who knows that children, one’s sons and daughters, are not sex partners. I am sorry you had to wait so long for your family, but glad you have them now. Please don’t ever feel bad about enjoying being with them and giving your heart to them. I am not mad at you.

Please know that I am also not mad at you for rather living with them than wanting to get back in touch with me. You have your own life now and that is good. I am still not in a good enough place to be trusted not to hurt you any further.

What I want you to take along on your journey through life is the knowledge that I am proud of you. You survived abuse. You survived being with me. You survived being without any family at all. You survived being made to think of yourself as worthless and beyond help. That takes a strong person. I am proud of you for making it. For walking through this difficult life straighter than I ever could.

I hope that you can go and use that strength for your advantage and for your recovery. With the small part of me that is capable of thinking like a mother, I want nothing more than for you to have a good life. I want you to find contentment and happiness. I want you to become everything you are meant to be. Everything you want to be. The part of me that can think and feel like a mother will always love you from afar.

Happy Holidays,
your birth mom

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My mom helped me word that. She also helped me cope with how much it made me cry to think those words up. I wish I could receive words like those for real. Mind you, I’m not having delusions, I know it will never ever happen. So I guess this will have to do. And I feel okay.

Talking Abuse

As you might have guessed by yesterday’s poem (if you read it), since Thanksgiving I’ve been thinking about the abuse by my stepfather and my mother’s tolerance of it more often. Maybe it’s my birthday and the Christmas holidays drawing nearer, they always put me in a glum mood and put thoughts of my birth family into my mind.

Whenever there is a major holiday, memories of days long gone intrude, and also I can’t help wondering about my mother, what she might be doing. Like how did she spend Thanksgiving? Did she see anyone? Does she live with anyone these days? Or did she just get wasted by herself, the way she used to whenever it was only her and me and home. My stepfather died in jail . . . is she mourning him on holidays? And does she ever think of me?  Does she ever wonder about what I might be doing, the way I wonder about her? And when it’s my birthday, does she think of me? Or does she not even remember?

I don’t know why those thoughts would matter – after all I haven’t seen her or heard from her in what will be eleven years in January, and I have my family now – but I can’t help thinking them nonetheless. And from those thoughts it’s only a small step to memories of abuse. I have a hard time thinking about the abuse with my feelings switched on, but it kind of works in the form of poetry, so that’s what I did.

I talk about it with my mom, too. That’s semi-emotional. She doesn’t usually allow that I split my emotions all the way off, but knows I can’t take too much and that I am afraid of getting overwhelmed by the memories if I stay too connected while we talk. So it’s always a struggle to find that fine line of the degree of emotional involvement that I can still take. Sadness is a surprisingly okay emotion. So is feeling disgusted by myself and the consequential self-hate, although we work on putting that into perspective.

I’m not used to making a difference between a person and his or her actions, but I need to learn to do that, so that’s what we’re working on when we talk abuse, too. That I learn to feel disgusted by the things I had to do, instead of feeling like a disgusting person. I still need help to be able to do that, because my borderline ways don’t really like considering such things, but with help it’s okay. Like how my mom helping with keeping my feelings of self-hate from developing their own momentum by bringing back to my attention the difference between who I am and what I did. That makes talking abuse easier.

So does feeling safe. I do not usually feel physically safe when I talk abuse. It feels as if talking about it had the power to bring it back for real, back into my life now. It’s irrational, but I can’t just shake the feeling of impending threat off, like people who are going to abuse me are going to step out of the shadows once I talk about the abuse. So in order to be able to talk about the abuse at all, I need to be able to watch the doors and the room itself to see with my own eyes that there’s nobody there, and I need to feel physically safe. Being close to my mom usually makes me feel safe and like she would protect me, just in case the threat was real. I mean I know it’s not, but well . . . just in case.

So it looks as though altogether I am going in a good direction. Which is nice. Especially at a stressful time like the holiday season.

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