Dear Mom,

I started to handwrite this letter a few months ago, but had to stop because it overwhelmed me. You have no idea how much I have held inside all of these years. Every time I tried to get right with what happened and who you are, I feel this immense pain bubble up inside me. I hope that one day, with enough therapy, I can get all of this out so I can feel better inside. Every time I write this letter mentally, I break down and feel messed up for a couple days.

You don’t know me.

You didn’t want to know me. You wanted to define me and make me who you decided I was supposed to be. You let my father handle all the uncomfortable puberty conversations and you avoided any serious, emotional conversation with me. You punished me and then had my father punish me. You never took my side and you did not initiate affection with me that I can remember. You labeled me as independent and you hurt me more than you will ever know.

Let me start at the beginning. Your beginning.

You were your parents’ second daughter and third child. Your sister was brilliant and your brother was radiant. Everyone loved your brother and your sister was weird and quirky, but very intelligent. She loved books and kept you up at night reading with her flashlight. You hated everything about her and you had to share a room with her. Your brother was handed everything because he was a boy. You felt left out and unloved. You were always rejected and dismissed. You were teased and treated poorly for being an introvert who hid behind her mother’s skirt. All of that makes me feel for you. But I also know that your siblings and mother always said your father spoiled you, that you had everything you ever wanted, and you were given so many opportunities to do things that you didn’t want to do. And I know you were forced to do things like summer camp, girl scouts, and piano lessons with your aunt.

But none of that excuses what you did to me. NONE OF THAT.

You called me sour and contrary. You begged me to do things like wear a dress or bra before we went to my father’s parents’ house so my grandmother would think you were a good mother. You forced me to take ballet to make me graceful and girl scouts because it would be “fun.” Did you forget that you hated it? When the ballet school closed, you made me take figure skating lessons that I never asked for. And for all the things I wanted to do, you told me no. No baseball, no soccer, no sports. But why?

And then you called me irresponsible because I lost things all the time and because I couldn’t keep my room clean. When the cat peed on the book you bought me for Christmas, you sat down on the bed and shamed me so much that I sobbed with the guilt that was streaming out of every pore of my body. “If you weren’t so irresponsible, maybe the cat wouldn’t have urinated on that book I wanted you to have. I waited for months to give you that book and you just carelessly left it on the floor. You know the cat goes on books, and you have hurt my feelings and disappointed me more than you can imagine.” THIS WAS NOT FAIR. THIS WAS EMOTIONAL ABUSE. I was NINE and you treated me like I was supposed to know exactly what the cat would do. And you know what? I NEVER read that book because I had zero interest in it. I don’t care who told you their daughter loved it because I DID NOT LIKE IT. It didn’t sound even remotely interesting to me.

Do you remember all the times you told me to MY FACE that you wish you never had me? That if you had known I was going to be this hateful little monster, you would’ve wished I had been a miscarriage. I remember you calling me a hateful little monster. And telling me you wish I had never been born. I remember you pushing me away when I tried to hug you. It happened more than once and every time it hurt. Why do you think I lived in my room and was angry and mean all the time? Because me, the hateful little monster, wanted to be left alone. Loneliness was so much better than the emotional abuse you put me through. I played board games all by myself. I spent entire Saturdays in my pretend world, where I had good parents who loved me and took me to baseball practice like I wanted so badly. I used to size up my friends’ mothers and think about who I wanted to be my mother.

I wanted a mother who wasn’t full of constant criticism. “Chew with your mouth closed, stand up straight, don’t wear that, you’re too thin, you’re too fat, are you on drugs, stop hunching your shoulders, are you blind, why can’t you see the things that need to be picked up, what is wrong with you, hateful little monster, ungrateful brat of a teenager, spoiled brat, mouthy jerk, etc etc etc.”

I hated you.

But I desperately wanted you to love me at the exact same time. I was desperate for your validation, approval, affection, emotional connection. You gave me none of that. You told me I was too much like your sister and you hated those things about her. You told me that I thought I was better than you. You said I was hateful and spiteful.

You made me who I was. You ignored Little Zander and you let my father steamroll Little Zander. You taught me to shove everything down and feel nothing; that tears and emotions were just weakness. That revenge was best. That exploding angrily after weeks of holding everything in was normal. You taught me to ignore who I was and what I was feeling to my own detriment.

You were and continue to be emotionally stunted because you don’t let yourself feel anything. I see you trying to connect to me to now. I see you finally trying after all these years. But there’s a boundary there that I can’t/won’t move. You put it there. You made me who I was, boundaries against you and all.

You gaslit me often and told me that things were different than they actually were. You made me feel crazy. You laughed at me and shamed me in public. You both told stories that embarrassed me in front of relatives and friends. You made me sit next to your mother because you didn’t want to. You never stood up to your mother for me. You let your brother make creepy comments about my body TO ME. You didn’t tell him to stop; that it was uncomfortable for me. You always pointed out when I treated you poorly or chose my friends over you when I was a teenager. You never acknowledged that you treated me poorly, that your expectations were way above me developmentally for my entire life. You didn’t listen to me when I told you that I was having trouble. You threatened to take me to therapy when I was irrationally angry but you never did. It was just an empty threat. Just like when you threatened to take me to the doctor because I was too thin. I had anorexia. I wasn’t eating at all. I found a way to get my body closer to what it was when I was just a kid. Starvation looked good on me. But when I finally broke out of it, you harped on me about being fat when I had only gained 10 pounds and was still underweight.

There’s a monster that lives inside me. Not the hateful little monster, but the beast who demands things of me. To drink more alcohol, to drive faster, to take risks, to eat more food, to take drugs, to see how far I can push myself. I can keep it quiet most of the time and not listen. When it was the loudest, I only drank on deployments when there were limits on drinks. I didn’t keep alcohol in the house at home because I knew it would be calling me, tempting me. I ignore it most of the time, but sometimes…sometimes I want more and more and more. I only had one scare, one time a long, long time ago. But it was enough for me to know that the monster in there doesn’t care about me. It rages at me and dares me to listen to it. You created the monster, both this evil addictive one and the hateful little monster. Only I have learned to tame it, keep it quiet, give it just enough to calm down.

The hateful little monster is Little Zander. The one you ignored and named badly. The one who really needed you hugs and to be told he was ok, that he was loved. But you rejected both of us.

But there are days…I see you trying…and my heart wants to give you that 10,000th chance. It wants to believe that you are for real this time. That you do love me and you are happy you had me. And all of that terrible stuff was you being overwhelmed and wishing you could hide in your mom’s skirt again.

But then I remember the way it felt to be told you wished I was never born or to get away from you, that you just didn’t feel like hugging me at that moment…and I can’t. I just can’t forget the pain and agony you put me through. I have learned what unconditional love is and I just can’t with your conditional love anymore. I can’t let you in my heart that knows what it’s like to be someone’s number 1 priority and that someone will never stop hugging me, even when their day is going badly. Especially when their day is going badly. They will lean on me and I will lean on them. And together we hold each other up through the rough stuff, not intentionally shove each other down and lash out because we can’t deal with our emotions.

There’s only one way to get in. Take care of your own shit. Clear up your repressed emotions. Deal with the things that have hurt you in your own life. The things that made you love me conditionally. The things that made you lash out at me like I was the root of all of your problems. And then maybe we can fix this. Maybe then we can remove the boundary you built around me together. Because I am NOT doing it alone when you were the one who started building it before I can even remember.

And then you can have that 10,000th chance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: