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.

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A Letter to My Birth Mother

Dear Mother

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Dear Mother,

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?

Ticket To My Heart

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,
Lola

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Related entries:
– 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

Dear Therapists – an open letter

Dear therapists

Yes, that means all of you I have met over the years, except my current one, F. Dear F, you are the proof that there are good ones out there. As far as the rest of you that I’ve met is concerned: I’m not impressed.

I was 15 when I was first introduced to the world of shrinks and you and I did not get along well. You started out by testing me. Long, tedious, paper and pencil tests. Me. A kid who was scared to death of failing at any task given to me. So scared I couldn’t think straight. So you diagnosed a borderline IQ. Over ten fucking years ago, and you know what that translates into? For years and years people have read the label before even meeting me, thought “oh, she’s a retard” and treated me like one. And if I wasn’t able to benefit from therapy, you could rest assured that it was not because of anything you did, but because I was too dumb to be able to get it. Convenient, isn’t it?

But of course back then I believed what you said. I believed I was more stupid than most people. I certainly felt more stupid than everyone else. Yes, and my behavior sure was odd and disturbed. Very much so. I trusted anyone who was kind to me. And was extremely upset to the point of hate when I felt let down. And when I felt let down, I did what I could to corrupt and sabotage therapy. Or to withdraw from it.

But hey, guess what! That’s the reason why I needed therapy! Only to you it was the reason why you thought I should get kicked out of therapy. That’s a bit insane, don’t you think, that you claim to want to treat what’s wrong with me, only when you are faced with what’s wrong with me, you claim it’s the reason why you can’t treat me?! And of course that’s all my fault. Fucking convenient again, isn’t it?

So instead of proper treatment, it was drugs. Did you know that at one point I took seven different psychoactive drugs, every single day, because you said I was untreatable if I didn’t take them?! Tell you what! I was not any more “treatable” for taking them, I was just too drugged up to care about anything, including you, anymore! Oh, well, and I guess I should say thanks for the benzodiazepine addiction! So easy to prescribe them, isn’t it? And as long as it keeps her calm, why not up her dose? After all her life is worthless and fucked up anyway, so it can’t possibly make a difference to screw with it some more. And yes, initially I liked the benzos! Loved them! Loved the calm and the respite they brought!

But let me ask you one thing: Do you know how being dopesick from prescription drugs feels? It’s grand, you should try it out! Just take Valium or Xanax or Klonopin or some other benzo in forever increasing doses for six months. Or hell, have fun, make it a year. Or two. Or five. Just however long it takes until instead of reducing anxiety, they make you feel nervous and anxious. And instead of calming you down, they make you feel restless and unable to sleep at all anymore. And instead of making you feel better, they make you feel depressed and like all you want is fucking die. And then prescribe yourself a shitload of additional drugs to deal with those side effects, if you haven’t already added some. You’ll have the time of your life, I promise!

And then stop them. Taper off. Do it real slow, it doesn’t matter, you’ll go through withdrawal anyway! Experience all the joy that it brings! For days. And weeks. And months. Many, MANY months. Do it until you’ve been benzo and drug free for at least six months. Let yourself be surprised how fucking long it takes. How pathetic and miserable and painful it feels. And how much your body and brain and everything has to adjust to just be normal again.

And before you’ve done that, I don’t ever want to hear another fucking word out of your mouths about how I should take drugs!!

Oh, and another word of wisdom: Don’t ever – EVER – label someone “untreatable”. That YOU can’t do it, doesn’t mean it’s not possible. You’re not that grand. Whoever you are, however many fancy titles you have, and no matter how well respected you might be by your colleagues and whatnot: You’re not the be all and end all of therapy. That you don’t have the key to my lock, doesn’t mean that there IS no right key. Or that there is something wrong with my lock. Consider that you might simply be an arrogant asshole who takes him- or herself and her therapy lore too fucking seriously before you give me crap and treat me like your shit doesn’t stink!

And lastly, dear F, thanks for restoring my faith in therapists! You’re one of the good ones! Which is great, as it gives me hope that there ARE good ones out there, even if they are outnumbered by dickheads, and I wish everyone who needs one that they are able to find one! It makes all the difference.

And to the rest of you: go, have a good look at what you do and how you treat people, and then feel guilty about it. I’m serious, do it. And then work on improving. Everyone who comes to you is worth just as much as you are. They all deserve a good therapist, not one who’s only considering himself good. If you make mistakes or can’t help him or her, say so and admit that it’s normal, because nobody is perfect and nobody can have the keys to ALL the locks. Gosh, and fucking educate yourself on drugs – read ALL the studies, not just the studies by the pharma companies that you get paid to read, because guess what?! They want to sell stuff. It’s a multi-billion dollar deal. Use your oh-so-educated mind to conclude what that says about the objectivity of their studies.

Yours truly,

Lola

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