I am at peace now.
There was a time I used to be so angry with you. Hurt.
Feelings of abandonment and rejection used to stick to the corners of my heart, festering inside me like rotting garbage in the baking sun. Rancid and stale.
A large portion of my life I felt this. I could be fine, learning to live without, full with acceptance. I’d push that need to the side and I’d survive. and then like a radar, you would pop back up and there it would be. You’d bring me back to that dark aching feeling, every time–in record time.
Self-deprecating, that little girl that still lives inside me would wonder why I was never enough. Why you couldn’t be the one I needed, in the way that I needed you. I thought I deserved that and every time you let me down it was just confirmation that I wasn’t worthy.
I’d come to you for advice and never seemed to get the kind I yearned for. I looked for you in every face. I held on to the good memories I had… At 4 years old, 7, 8, 9 years old…17 years old. Blurred lines, I realized after so much up and down, in and out of my life, so much hurt and disappointment, I truly don’t know how to have a relationship with you.
I held on for a long time and then as a defense mechanism I cut the cord.
I needed to in order to survive you. For a long, long time it didn’t work, not on the inside. I still could feel you. I’d never show it or express it but I did.
When you got sick I felt it again. I felt pain and regret and I cried at the happy times, the handful I remembered with you. Flashbacks of swings and underdogs and butterflies and flowers. Of matching summer dresses and white Keds and holding hands. Of buying me art supplies and nourishing that talent, for believing in me.
In 2nd grade when I got in trouble at school and the principal called, you gave me the opportunity to confess to you, holding my hands as tears streamed down my cheek and comforted me through my sobs. You taught me compassion in that moment, respect for children and humanity, empathy when you told me that I had punished myself enough and I wouldn’t face anymore consequences with you. We built such trust that day and I felt safe with you.
When I saw an ad for body wash in 4th grade, I asked you what the word “caress” meant. You said nothing but smiled a gentle smile, and tenderly and lovingly stroked my cheek. I smiled into the warmth of your touch. I smiled because it was the perfect way to learn that word. It was my favorite word.
You had that way about you. You taught me my love for writing, vocabulary, expression.
You gave me the confidence to have my voice heard. You were my hero.
I cried for that. I mourned for you. I cried for the bad times, the times you remember, the times that you don’t, the times you say you don’t but do, and the times you wish you didn’t.
I don’t anymore. As surreal and cruel as it may be, I feel nothing. There is an empty space where the hurt used to live and now it’s not even numb…
It’s just nothing.
Nothing there. But I feel peace.
I want you to know that I forgive you. I need to say it.
I forgive you for everything that ever happened that made me hurt over you.
I realize now that although you bore me, you didn’t do this to me. You are on your own journey, your own path that is completely independent to me. It never had anything to do with me.
I realize now that everything that happened was part of a bigger plan. It happened to make me stronger, to learn to protect myself, build my own protection and then learn to be brave enough to take it back down. I’ve learned to be the mother I wanted and needed, to protect my young, to know what to look out for when protecting them. To love in a different way.
And I thank you for that.
For the first time in my life I am not focusing on all the times I felt duped by you. Instead I realize that you have been struggling and even through that struggle you have come through for me during some impressionable times.
Thank you for teaching me how to drive when I had no one else. I was so angry with you still and so jaded by what was happening in my world at 17, everything that had happened my whole life. So jaded and furious and I punished you for that. I was rude to you and snide at every chance I got. It felt good to be rude to you. I felt venom sit behind my tongue, ready to spit, patiently waiting for any opportunity. And you let me be angry.
You were patient with me. You taught me how to parallel park for hours and gave me techniques to correct myself, strategies that I used during my test, that ultimately rewarded me with my license. That’s a memory I hold dear to my heart. Thank you for that.
Thank you for being there after my son was born. You were the mommy I needed, the one I had ALWAYS needed, and even if it was just a glimpse for a moment, you gave that to me.
We hadn’t talked in 9 months, I have no idea what was going on in your life or if you were truly happy or struggling or what, if being there for me was rejuvenating or taxing. But you were there. You answered my call and you called me back. You made time for me. We talked on the phone for a month it seems. and like a candle whose wick has burned to the bottom of the glass, our time flickered and fizzled, a feeble flame that never did know how to stay.
We stopped calling and answering. Just like that, we fell back into our same pattern, the only one we know when it comes to each other. You came to Maryland and didn’t even call. That screamed volumes. You sent flowers for my birthday when all I wanted was a letter. We never seem to know what we need from each other. Two women connected through blood, who once shared the same body, me knitted inside of you and brought to existence, but strangers in our own reality. Strangers by choice.
Somewhere along our story-line, we let go. I don’t feel your hand in mine anymore. But I still remember your mommy smell, the one I would breathe in as I curled up in your arms and laid my head in the nape of your neck as you held me when I was a little girl. I remember there was a time you were my safe zone.
I have that now with my son. And I think this is why I don’t have to hurt over you anymore. It’s my turn to rewrite my story.
You gave me life. You taught me the hardest lesson in this life: that I can survive on my own as a woman. I don’t blame you for all of the cracks in my heart, but it is a truth that your name is carved next to some of the deepest ones.
A scar is proof that you are stronger than whatever tried to kill you. I was stronger than the pain, but the experiences still affect me. I’m affected when I don’t know how to be a daughter. I don’t know how to form healthy relationships with parent figures. A normal, healthy mother-daughter relationship is so foreign to me, I can imagine what that looks like, I can dream about it, but I can’t for the life of me imitate it.
I wanted that my whole life and yet I feel the damage so deep every time I exude rejection to a love that is supposed to come so naturally.
I realize that I’m damaged but not ruined. Bruised but not broken. I do believe that with time and healthy love in my life, I will heal and recover fully. I feel I am halfway there. But like any other checkpoint, the halfway mark can feel like a long way off from the finish line.
I realize that to do this fully, I need to let go of everything that ever hurt me. Resentment that plagued me. I free myself from that. I free you from that too.
As I venture on this journey of healing and growth and love, I pray for only good things for you. I pray for peace in your heart and happiness in your soul and for a wholeness that only you can feel, all on your own. You deserve that.
You have always deserved that.
With love and light,