Where do we start? I guess the beginning is as good a place as any. You were in labor with my 10 lb. 14 oz. bulk for nearly two days. I was a month overdue; I did not want to come out and this was before the days of induced labor. Nowadays, I wouldn’t be allowed to get so fat. They would have sprung me the month before.
I was a really fat baby. In my hospital baby picture, my head is wider than it is tall with my Jabba the Hut neck. I didn’t realize it until many years later, but I was the reason you weren’t able to have any more children. I was fat and very sick, though you didn’t know it then.
A month later, I was in the neonatal intensive care unit fighting for my life. You were told to prepare for the worst. I died several times. I nearly didn’t make it. When I survived, you were told to expect side effects from the disease that had ravaged my brain stem and spinal cord. These could include paralysis, brain damage, learning disabilities and hearing loss among others. I was too young yet to know what damage it had done.
It must have been awful for you not knowing what side effects I would have. You must have hung on tenterhooks for the next few years, waiting for the damage to present itself. It’s no wonder you distanced yourself from me. It must have been too painful to be the mom you were for my sister for a child you thought you’d lose, for a child who was damaged.
Seven years later, when it was evident that the worst side effects I had were partial hearing loss and severe migraines, you allowed a monster into our home, but you didn’t know. You didn’t know that this stranger you let live in our house was tying me up, torturing me and raping away my innocence. It seems like you should have known, that some mom sense in you should have set off alarms, but that didn’t happen. The gap between us, probably the result of my infant meningitis, was too great. You invited him inside.
I can forgive you for letting the monster in, because you really didn’t know, but I cannot forgive you for siding with him. When I finally worked up the courage to tell you about it, absolutely the bravest thing I have ever done, you did not believe me. You let the abuse continue. You sent me right back into the monster’s lair. It was a betrayal that cut so deep that I’m not sure I’ll ever truly get over it.
You made a seven-year old child feel entirely alone in the world with no one to talk to or turn to for help. You abandoned me to the wolves that lived inside my mind. You let the wound fester. You swept it all away and pretended it never happened. I cannot forgive you for that betrayal.
The repercussions of your betrayal are still rippling through my life even now. When the people whose job it is to protect you abandon you to the monsters, it makes it impossible to trust anyone. If I can’t trust you, my own mother, who can I trust? No one.
Because you never got me any help, you made it seem as if it was my problem; it was my fault. It was not my fault, but I didn’t realize that until many years later. Sexual abuse is an awful thing to carry around with you, especially when you have no one to talk to about it. You left me to deal with that all on my own.
I didn’t talk to you for three years because of that. When I finally started talking to you again, only because I heard that dad had cancer, I told you all of that. You listened and understood and even apologized, but there’s nothing you can say to make up for abandoning me as a child. I carry that burden along with you.
You didn’t blame me for not talking to you and you’re grateful that I do now. You don’t nag me for not calling or visiting regularly enough anymore. You don’t balk when I tell you about a new tattoo or something else you don’t approve of. You let me live my life and you’re thankful that I allow you in it at all, because now you know just how easy it would be for me to cut you out altogether. I don’t lord it over you, but we both know our history is a barrier between us and there is nothing we can do about it. We both know it’s there and why, but it will not go away.
I cannot forgive you for abandoning me, for betraying me and not believing me, but I still reach out to you from time to time, because you are my mother. You failed your child in one of the worst ways imaginable and you weren’t a good mother, but you are the only one I have. Some day, you won’t be here anymore. When that happens, I will be sad, but I won’t feel any regret. I’ve already told you everything I need to say.