Day 147: Mother F-ing Letter Part 2 - How I Felt About It (Major Trigger Warning)
Extreme Trigger Warning
It occurs to me as I face this second section of the letter that you do not deserve the title, "Mom." You were an egg donor, you were an incubator, you were a restaurant (some of the time), you were a landlord (most of the time), but a mom?? Not really. And, I accepted your limitations, your flaws, your weakness, your fears. You made it my responsibility to deal with them for you, to tell you you did not have limitations, flaws, weaknesses, or fears, you were a "great mom." How many times did you wheedle that sentence out of me with your self-pitying statements?
But, again, I digress.
I know you're not reading anymore and these words are visible only to the flies in the trash bin. That doesn't matter. Once again, what matters is my need to say them. My need to speak my truth, no matter how reprehensible to you. This section of the letter is about how I felt about the things you did at the time. This part of the letter is the most daunting for me because I learned not to feel my emotions so thoroughly I genuinely cannot feel them. I can peek at them from around the corner. I can see them in action in unexpected ways. But, I cannot allow them to surface or show them, not to myself or to anyone else. And I am working HARD to fix that. Because, it turns out, I need to feel them. I need to show them. I need nurturing and comforting. I need these things like I need oxygen, water, food, and shelter.
I have had issues come up at work because of my inability to feel my emotions. I have been cruel or responded in an unfeeling way to people on many occasions. This happened again just today . . . to remind me I NEED to learn to feel and express my emotions. Because I am innately kind. It is my true north to be loving to people. But you don't know that. You know my distance. You know my reserve. You know my rage. And, sadly sometimes other people do as well, for no fucking good reason. Thankfully I have learned something you never learned. I have learned to apologize. And I did. Today when I cut someone down because my temper got the better of me, I apologized.
And I am trying, with everything I have, to change this about myself. I am improving. But, there is a wall in front of me. That wall is my frozen emotions. I will knock down this fucking wall and it will land on you! HA!! "Land on you!" Remember that fucking phrase?! Well, it's your fucking turn! "I'm going to land on you!"
This is how I felt about it at the time:
I can't remember what it felt like as an infant to not be held. I can only imagine the abiding loneliness, fear, anger, and deep sense of loss I must have experienced laying in a crib or a box. Thank goodness there were other relatives around sometimes. I was held at least some of the time. But, your inability to hold me is why I didn't imprint to you, why I couldn't connect with you, why I was standoff-ish. I had to be in my head because it hurt too fucking much to be in my body! I was in pain almost all of the time as a child. Of course, to you I was just trying to get attention.
It is very hard for me to say how I felt about your abandonment, because you abandoned me so young. You were done with me almost from day 1. Maybe even literally from day 1. How would I know? I can tell you how I felt later in life. When I was 12 and you admitted you were done raising children, I felt relieved. I was relieved to know the score. Do you know what I thought at the time? (Of course you don't and you don't care.) I thought, "Oh. I get it now. It's not us. We're not the problem, they are." I understood at 12 fucking years old when my mom abandoned me that she was the problem. It was a miraculous eye-opener for me. You were always distant, angry, exhausted, drunk. You would sigh so heavily whenever one of us called for you, it was clear we were nothing but an unbelievable bother.
We didn't want to be a bother. All I wanted was for you to look at me with affection. To gently brush my hair instead of ripping my hair out in a fury. To run your hand down the back of my head or sit next to me and talk. To look at something I did with interest. To go to one of my concerts and pay a compliment. Oh, what I would have given for a compliment! I longed for you to tell me you were proud of me. I didn't need to get first place or be the very best (or the "best of the very best" as you said). Why did you hold such standards? Was it because you are a genius but didn't get to pursue your dreams? Was it because you were always number one at everything and so anything less was unworthy of praise?
I needed your praise. I craved it. All I ever got, at best, was dismissive, and at worst was minimizing or mocking me. I had a full scholarship to college and you never said a word about it, other than to tell me I wouldn't have gone to college otherwise, you wouldn't pay for it.
I am only realizing right this minute you fucking owe me that college money back! With interest!! Fuck!!
OK, enough about how it felt to be abandoned, to never have your approval or attention.
I don't remember what it felt like when the baby sitter raped me. Blessed amnesia has erased those memories. I can't remember your reaction. I only remember you shoving medicine inside me. I also remember feeling terrified. Terrified isn't even close to adequate to describe how I felt. It was singularly the most frightened I have ever been. Something in your demeanor made it horrifying. You had no compassion for me, no concern for what I was going through. You just had a job to do. You took no steps to help me. You probably never even talked to the doctor about how indescribably awful it would be for me to have that medicine shoved into me after having been raped. You were just angry with me for making it difficult, for being unreasonably afraid. FUCK YOU! Of course I was afraid. It was the worst thing that had happened to me in my life up to that point. Anyone would have fought you, tried to escape, begged you, "Please mamma, I don't want the medicine. It hurts." You only cared about what it was like for you, not what it was like for me. You could have reached out for help. You could have asked for advice.
But, no, that's ridiculous. "Doctors only take advantage. They just want your money." Beside, I wasn't raped. I was making a big fucking deal out of absolutely nothing. The baby sitter just "messed" with me. I was freaking out and kicking and running away for no good reason.
That experience was a major turning point for me. I knew with grim resolve you didn't care at all how I felt. You couldn't recognize it in the slightest.
But, god, I didn't give up yet. Not completely.
You let your husband sexually abuse me for five years (he programmed me for three years before that). Fuck, for all I know he was abusing me before age 11 but I don't remember it. My memory starts to be more complete at about age 11. Still I have many gaps, but at least I remember more than just occasional flashes.
I gained a huge fucking memory last night about the time he was taking naked pictures of me when I was 9 years old. I remember asking you to make him stop. I was so desperate for you to care about what I felt. I was literally shaking like a leaf. But, I showed no emotion. No tears, no begging, just a single sentence. "Mom, please tell him to stop." But that bounced off you completely. You turned on me. You told me I was just a child. It wasn't wrong, he is a photographer.
It never fucking occurred to you he undertook that hobby as a means for getting sexual pleasure from me! You handed me to him on a silver platter!
And, incredibly, when I was with him a lot of the time I felt happy. He paid attention to me. He listened to me. He was interested in my interests. He told me I was talented and encouraged me. He told me I was smart.
Then when he started taking me to the woods, it became indescribably awful. All of the things he celebrated about me became things he turned into sexual pleasure. He took pictures of me with my guitar (a guitar I worked for an entire summer to buy). He attached horrible shame to music (my one pure and reliable joy). And you saw the fucking pictures. You didn't care how it affected me. You never said a word. You never asked.
There is no word I know of to describe how that feels. You had no belief in me to pursue my dream of writing music, and you allowed him to make it into a sick perversion. And, I was so damned confused that I felt fucking good about him paying attention to me. I thought it was a huge compliment that he took pictures of me naked with my guitar. I was sick to my stomach, but told myself it was "art" as he claimed.
How could you have seen those pictures and not become enraged with protectiveness for your child?!
Years later when the police called me for a statement I felt so ashamed I threw up for almost an entire day. I feel sick to my stomach right now remembering this, remembering what it was like to tell them, to answer the question, "Why did you let him take the pictures?" That fucking moment talking to the sheriff is emblazoned on me like a brand. I didn't understand how wrong it was, how creepy and sick and vile, until I was asked that question. And then I felt wrong, creepy, sick, and vile. I was the one who "let" him take those pictures.
That's how you think of it too, isn't it?! That's why you never stood up to him, never asked me about it, never made any attempt to protect me at all. And, I am sure you wanted him to come after me for sex, to let you off the hook. It was a relief to you. Remember when you told the State counselors that sex was the most important thing to him? I remember what you meant underneath that. You meant that you had to let him have your daughter. Who cares? She's strong. She can take it.
And even still I wasn't angry. I was mortified. I was ashamed, unbearably ashamed. I have always been unbearably ashamed of just existing. I shouldn't have ever existed. I was the worst thing that happened to you. I ruined your life. I always felt completely worthless, or having value only in so far as I could be a sexual object or a care taker for others. I had no value myself.
I felt unimportant, small, cold, dark, lonely, empty, and sick. I felt like a waste of flesh. I felt demented and putrid.
But, no one could ever see that. I knew how to act. I knew how you expected me to act, how you demanded me to show the world a happy face. I learned to put on a mask. That mask eventually became a suit of armor and it eventually replaced nearly all of my emotions.
When I was responsible for my siblings most of the time what I felt was tired and afraid. I couldn't do for them what was needed. I didn't even know what was needed because I thought all a child needed was food and shelter. I learned that from you. So, I was no different to them, at least in terms of showing affection. I couldn't do that. But, I was there for them to protect them. That part I got, even though you didn't. I did my best to protect them.
But I failed. And that was probably the most painful thing of all. I wasn't able to stop him or you. I buffered, and limited the abuse, but I wasn't able to stop it. I tried so hard to put myself between him and them and between you and them. And I succeeded many times. But, not always. Still there were times when the beatings would commence. I wouldn't be able to stop him by provoking him or distracting him.
I feel horribly ashamed of myself for using my body to draw him away.
And, it didn't even work. In the end, he got to my younger sister. Because I couldn't sustain it. I couldn't fight him off again. I couldn't take another knock-down-drag-out fight. Three times this happened. I just couldn't do it any more. So, I abandoned them too. I left. I left them in your care.
I should have gone to the police instead of protecting the fucking secret. I was so desperate for your approval, so loyal, such a "good girl" I didn't even consider telling. So I did what you did. I turned to alcohol. Then I turned to men, so many men. I turned away and then he had them. He beat them. He sexually abused my sister. And I let it happen.
The absolutely worst thing of all is that in the end I became you. Are you proud of me now?