A Letter to My Mom…
This is a hard letter to write. I know you’re due one from me, and I know the silence from me has been difficult. For that, I am sorry. It isn’t my intention to ever hurt you. It hurts me to think that I do at these times – these times I need distance while I work through my pain. That’s what I’ve been doing, Mom. Working through stuff. Again. I know you don’t totally understand. We come from vastly different generations. Sometimes, I’ll admit, it’s not easy for me to remember that. You’re so young at heart and full of energy and wit. And you’ve made some tremendous, sweeping changes in your life, it seems. This confuses me into believing that you’re more on the same page with me psychologically than I think you may actually be. That is not a put down. Just a gentle observation.
Mom, I’m finally undergoing the long-awaited, much-needed, and intensive PTSD therapy I’ve been needing all these years. I found out that I can see a therapist at this amazing place for veterans and family members for free, and since Dad served during Nam, I’m eligible. It’s been amazing. I’m making tremendous stride, I feel. Part of this process, however, has been bringing up a lot of stuff that I thought I’d either let go or has been buried for many years. It’s been painful, and I’ve needed to distance myself from you, as a result. It isn’t all you, so don’t worry about that. It’s many things. But you’re a large part of it, I’ll admit. That’s why I’m writing this letter. It was the suggestion of my therapist that I write a goodbye letter to the mom I wish I had, to put to rest the idea that I’ll ever have that kind of mom – to sort of come to terms with who you truly are to me. Understand, please, that what I write will not be entirely realistic, but that’s not the point. It’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be a letter written from both the little girl and the adult in me who has had such a hard time accepting your way of parenting and who hopes that by finally saying goodbye to “fantasy mom,” you and I can move forward. Because above all else, you’re my mom, and I hope to have a relationship with you, even if it must be different from what I had hoped it to be.
So here goes:
Goodbye to the mom who communicates on the same page as I do, who is willing to “go there” and be real. Goodbye to the mom who understands that each of us experience forgiveness differently, and that those of us who need more time are not wrong. Goodbye to the mom who never shames me into believing that if I only trusted in God more, I wouldn’t have all these problems. Goodbye to the mom who uses her religion as a personal healing balm, not as a tool against open communication or realness. Goodbye to the mom who understands what it means to process pain, how long that can take, who will be there for me, with an open heart and mind, patiently, showing (not just espousing) unconditional love and acceptance throughout my journey.
Goodbye to the mom who truly knows how to embrace her trauma, her pain, her horrible past in a healthy, evolving way, who doesn’t use food and humour and denial as a way to escape. Goodbye to the mom who can REMEMBER. Goodbye to the mom who is willing to face her trauma and is thus, unafraid of mine. Goodbye to the mom who can have truly honest conversations with me about the past (and present), willing to “go there,” who truly can be deep.
Goodbye to the mom who puts her children’s needs above her own fear of being unloved, who doesn’t keep company with those who have crossed her daughter and granddaughter’s boundaries, or others,’ for that matter. Goodbye to the mom who doesn’t practically sanctify the dead, those who crossed boundaries with me, who sensitively remembers the pain these people caused me and thus, respectfully doesn’t bring them into conversation around me.
Goodbye to the mom who is gentle. Goodbye to the mom who never scares me. Goodbye to the mom who never did. Goodbye to the mom who never hurt me and who never will. Goodbye to the mom who set out to give me fun and magical, enchanting memories as a child, to help drown out the negative, who strove to giving me a childhood I could remember with joy and laughter.
Goodbye to the mom who behaves like a mom at all times – not like a needy child. Goodbye to the mom who understands that those needs must be met by another, especially just after hurting me. Goodbye to the mom who can step outside herself and meet my needs when she’s hurt me, taking full responsibility, and without needing me to make her feel better about herself. Goodbye to the mom who takes extra good care of herself both emotionally and physically, who meets her own inner child’s needs with compassion and complete acceptance.
My dear mom, I see now that due to much of the above, a rather surface relationship with you is all that we can manage before coming up against the same blocks in our relationship. I don’t wish for that to happen anymore than you do – this constant butting of heads due to our differences. I want to accept, as hard as this is for me to do with anybody, that our conversations cannot go deep. I want to accept that I cannot depend upon you for emotional help, because even though you’re quite capable, at times, of being there for me, this type of relationship leads me to having higher expectations than you are seemingly able to deliver, and that leads to more heartache. I don’t want that, and I know you don’t, either. But Mom, this also means that you cannot lean on me, either, please, ok? I know you have many friends and your husband’s family who love you and upon whom you can lean, which is really more appropriate, anyway, right? If our relationship was more balanced, I could offer my ear and shoulder, but unfortunately, it never has been, and I accept, now, that it never will be.
Mom, I suspect that much, if not all, of what I’ve said may sound like Greek to you, and that this is very likely another generational issue. I wish you did understand me more, but you and I are like night and day, and you probably never will. I accept this. I accept that you may want to defend yourself after reading this, and that if you do, it will irk me to no end. However, you’re entitled to respond as you will, of course, and I’m responsible for my reaction. If I don’t react at all, please know that this is just me trying to take care of myself and not engage in another battle that will lead to yet another long(er) bout of silence and distance.
Can we start on an entirely new page? I want, so badly, to accept who you are, because ultimately, I know you’ve lived through so much pain, so much hurt and trauma, just like me.
I love you, Mom.