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Confronting my mother

August 4, 2005

This post is in a series that started July 21st. It is an account of my dealing with my family and how God worked to bring me through this.

Eventually I went to see my mother and after our usual conversation about nothing I ventured into the topic.

After a few minutes I mentioned this letter and that I had it in my car and would like to refer to it for sake of not leaving anything unsaid. My 77 year old mother said, “Say what you need to say, I don’t want you not saying something you need to”. So I got the letter and covered all of its topics.

Here is the letter:

August 30, 2004

Dear Mama,

The following letter is something I need to get off my chest. It contains many things that will be difficult to read. You should probably sit down and read this in private. Know that I do love you. After you have read this and if you want to call me.

I am writing to you because I don’t think I would get out all the things that I need to say if I told you in person. I am sorry if this is impersonal. It is difficult to write and I assume it will be difficult to read.

I have been trying to deal with the person that I am. I don’t really like parts of myself. I have come to realize that despite my intentions, my childhood has greatly affected me. For example, I had always sworn that I would never fight. I have at least mentally realized that that is not realistic. I have treated those I love in the very ways that robbed me of my spirit as a child.

I can not even remember much of my childhood. Some of the memories that I do have are so horrific that I am not sure most people would believe them. I am learning how things at our house affected me in ways I didn’t even realize.

I have written {my sisters} to let them know how I feel and have forgiven them. I have felt that they abandoned me. That they didn’t love me enough to get me out.

The things that I witnessed between you and Daddy are not only wrong but are criminal to put a child through. I cry uncontrollably just typing that. I have for a long time been angry with you.

You always said the right things, but the actions of your life toward me left me wanting. You provided monetarily, but I never felt nurtured, I never felt that you loved me enough to give up work, or fighting, or anything else for me. I am sure you don’t see it that way.

I have for some time resented that you decided it best for me to have no contact with Daddy after your divorce. I years later found a letter from him that you kept from me. That was so wrong of you. But I could not even confront you about it. I am so weak in some ways. I have been scared of your wrath. You used to scare me so bad. It seems that you blame everything on Daddy and his drinking. It may be the root of the problems, but you were the one I was terrified of. I dreaded nights he was home because of the fights, but it is hard for me to reconcile the mental pictures I have of my mother, who is supposed to be nurturing, doing some of the things you did.

I was left alone too often and too young. I have always been a very lonely person. Even around others I think they would rather I not be there. It is hard to explain, but in some ways I feel that I had to grow up way too fast and in others that I have never grown up.

Apparently all of us children felt unwanted. I can’t understand how you stayed together those years, why you had more children, why on earth was I born. The home I was brought into was abusive mentally. I know that on some level you suffered from co-dependency. That in some complex way you were addicted as well. Addicted to the fighting, the violence.

I need to forgive you! But it is so hard. You have never even apologized to me for the horrors that I witnessed. Maybe you think it was not that bad. I learned from you that a person doesn’t admit weakness or failure. That you go on as if nothing has happened. I felt unable to discuss anything, with anyone about my home life.

It is very difficult for me to come to visit. The bad memories are hard to take. It is hard to not feel guilty. Both guilty that it was all my fault that you and Daddy had problems (even though I know that is not logical) and If I am at your house I feel guilty for not seeing Daddy (I can hear you saying that he makes us feel that way) but it is you that makes it the hardest. I feel I have to sneak over to visit my own father, that if I stay too long, you will be mad. Or that I will have to hear how unworthy he is. I guess in my book I don’t know if our family is even worthy of existing, of ever seeing each other. That worth was forfeited long ago. But, and it’s a big but, we are somehow family, all I have ever known. Distant from each other even in the same room. I have to resolve this so that my family is never that way.

I do love you, but it has seemed twisted, warped, in some way wrong for so long. I need to forgive you, but I don’t know that I can say I have. I hope that when this letter is finished, that I will feel that forgiveness begin.

I know this sounds mean, but that little boy that sat in front of the TV trying to ignore the hell around him never spoke up, he was and is too weak. You come across as self-righteous that you do your best always. Well if that is true, it left me with a lot of needs. I looked everywhere for acceptance the only two groups that I ever found it was with what you would call dope heads and at church. That also makes it so hard to visit. The church family that loved me, I feel I can’t visit without hurting you. You seem to have condemned them because of an elder or two and a preacher. I can’t see how that is.

I see you make efforts to get in the floor to play with my boys and I am thankful for that. I wish I could remember you playing with me! I have no memories of that at all. I don’t know if you ever did? My feeling is that you never cared enough to try.

I am trying to remember what else I need to say. I have just written this as it comes to mind. I guess my main issues are that I feel I lost my spirit as a child. I have trouble loving anyone; I have trouble giving to anyone. I fear rejection and abandonment constantly. I grew up fearful, that I was not wanted, that I would be left all alone. And many times I was.

I have been getting counseling which you probably think is for weak people. Well I am weak. He gave me my analysis to this point, it reads:
Though you claim a good self-image, I tend to believe that it is distorted. As a defense against you childhood “abandonment” (parental aloofness) you have built up a DISHONEST self-image to try to convince yourself that you have worth based upon external factors: independence, success (Susan, too). (Being “successful” can be a huge block to true emotional intimacy.) Though your parents told you many positive things about yourself, their actions contradicted. This resulted in your having difficulty easily trusting others. As a result, when someone violates your trust today, it is especially disheartening.

Deep down, instead of feeling good about yourself, you view yourself as defective, unlovable, unworthy. Arising from this low view of yourself (deep inside), you fear that IF people saw who you really were that they would reject you again. So that when intimacy approaches, you withdraw.

That is pretty accurate of me.

It does remind me of one other thing I need to say to you. I struggle with this super-independence. It is very hard for me to ask for help from anyone. It all stems from my childhood.

I am too exhausted to think of anything else to say.

I will close with the letter I wrote to my sisters, it helps explain how I feel and why I am doing this. I hope this helps to heal the wound I feel.

{letter inserted}

Rereading this, I have to say that to them I could say, “I don’t know if they did wrong or not.” My problem with you Mama has been that I know you did wrong. I hope you can ask for forgiveness. I hope I can give it whether you ask or not.

Lastly, there are some things I would like for you to explain to me if you can. It would be helpful to me.
1. Why you had to stay in/ keep me in the atmosphere that was our home life?
2. You sometimes say that you did your best. How did you think that you were doing your best?
3. Why or How was I born in light of knowing the kind of home I would be brought up in? It is hard for me to imagine wanting to have a child if you knew that was what if would grow up in.
4. Explain how you childhood impacted you. How did you try to be better than your parent’s were?


Her reaction next time.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2005 4:09 pm

    Speechless! (a rarity)

    Anxiously awaiting..the rest of the story!

  2. August 4, 2005 4:27 pm

    I know from what you’ve been saying that everything has since worked out for the better for you and that God has brought about good from all the excruiatingly hard times you lived with growing up. But, it’s painful to hear about, much less live. How hard it must have been for you to pour your heart out like that to your mother in a letter.

    I’m just glad I already know the “end” of the story. Although, you are still young and have a long life ahead of you, I know. I just hope it continues to be much better than it was up until a few months ago. We’ll pray that it will.

  3. August 4, 2005 10:17 pm

    Cliffhanging, patiently.

  4. August 5, 2005 9:18 am

    Your authenticity is contagious.


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