Behind the Music: BedTime Story-"a LeTteR tO MoM,"
Updated: Jul 16
Why is it easier to hate, rather than to love?
To begrudge, rather than to forgive?
To forget, rather than to remember?
I believe that is partially because the things we fear the most...have already happened to us.
For me, I know this is true.
Everything I fear happening, today...has already happened.
I already lost my home, once...
I was already abused, physically and emotionally by my own mom...
And I have already been sexually assaulted...
After surviving these trials and tribulations, you are left with a new burden.
Your coping strategies are curtailed...
by the onset of fear.
Fear of not having stability.
Fear of disappointing loved ones.
Fear of relationships and intimacy.
It's all one big cornucopia of anxiety.
Through our struggles, we have become stronger.
We are resilient; We are warriors.
Yet we our living our lives in a state of panicked 'paranoia.'
A Cowardly Lion.
We spend our time tip toeing around anything and anyone that may trigger us. This is, of course, because we do not want to experience any semblance of our traumatic experience, ever again.
Through this pattern, even when we have the means to- we forego assuming control of our own lives and thus, we empower our abusers by using our fear of reliving their transgressions, as a crutch to sustain our filtered-reality.
If you are unable to live your life fully in the present because of what someone else said or did to you in the past…well, you're still kind of living under their thumb, now aren't you?
I had this realization recently…which spurred the beginning of this blog, actually.
I was still being controlled by my mom, even years beyond that time in my life, and from miles and miles away. I still had her voice in my head, telling me what I could and couldn't do and who I could and couldn't be.
I don't know about you, but I'm ready to break free. And I will not be threatened or manipulated into thinking that I do not have a voice.
I will not be spurred by what she may or may not do if I speak.
When I was a kid, I would say to myself:
"I can't talk about it, because she will yell,"
"She will scream at me,"
"She will hit me,"
"She won't want me anymore."
As an adult, I said…I can't talk about it.
Because she will get mad. She will try to get back at me. She will deny everything and she will hurt me all over again.
And I moved far away from her. I made new friends.
Changed my entire life.
And I played pretend.
I latched onto other people's families or pseudo-relatives that I could pass off as my own.
I didn't discuss my childhood, even with my closest friends.
I didn't really tell anyone that I had been in Foster Care, or lived in homeless shelters.
And I didn't breathe a word about the abuse.
It was almost like I was still living in my mother's house.
I am standing up and taking my power back. I'm not going to be afraid of talking about what happened to me.
Because it happened.
And I'm not afraid to say so, anymore...because now I see that it was all about control.
If my mom didn't know that what she was doing was wrong, she wouldn't want me to keep it a secret…right?
She would be able to admit to it. She wouldn't be pretending it's all a lie.
Or maybe she is not pretending.
Maybe she really is sick. And she doesn't remember the things that happened
when she snapped.
It was like she was an entirely different person, depending on the day. Sometimes she could be so nice…she could be so nice. And sometimes she was a monster.
In any case…
It wasn't right.
It wasn't right that she left me home alone all day when I was a toddler, fending for myself in a dirty apartment…
and hitting me when I stepped out of line, in some way.
It wasn't right that she made me feel worthless, growing up.
It wasn't right that she told me several times to end my own life-or she would do it for me.
It wasn't right that she told me that I wasn't wanted.
It wasn't right that she beat me up all the way through to my teenage years.
That she tried to keep me isolated. That she kept me from being able to form real relationships and friendships, because of her own problems.
That she hurt me over and over again and played sick mind-games to keep me from seeking help.
That she used my being molested and eventually raped in foster care at 17 years old, as a means to claim that I was the problem, and not her.
I could keep going.
No matter how many 'nice things' she did do for me…
How many things. How many monetary gifts. How many times she did actually TRY to act like a mom.
And there weren't many….
But there were some. Credit where credit is due.
It doesn't excuse the abuse.
It doesn't excuse anything she did.
And I have finally been able to release any guilt that I was holding onto…
About her being my 'mom'.
And my having to 'honor her,' no matter what.
I don't hate her.
But she has no right to control anything in my adult life. I am taking my power, back.
And the only person, my mom is fooling…is herself.
Over the years, I've gotten messages. I was a little tentative to allow anonymous commenting on this blog, because of them. They have always been from some mysterious screen-name or email address.
Something like "The Reverend," or "IlluminousMind" or something of that nature.
They started out as threats-telling me not to "lie." Telling me that they will "find out if I tell lies about them".
That they will sue me for defamation if I go public, with everything that 'didn't' happen.
Telling me that I am “sick"
Or "mentally ill”
Or a “drunk"
Or a "Slut."
Pick a put-down, and it was probably said.
It was obviously mommy-dearest sending these messages.
She wants to instill in me that I should be afraid.
There is no rhyme, reason or logic to anything my mother says.
It only ever needs to make sense to her. It's what helps her to sleep at night, I suppose.
It's hard because it feels like she will never completely go away.
Every time I think I've heard the last of my monster-mom, she pops up through anonymous screen names or emails.
It had been a couple of years since I'd received one, until low and behold...
A few days ago I got a message through my facebook fan page.
I deleted it immediately, as I knew if I didn't, it would be all too tempting to respond and engage in a pointless back-and-forth with her…
Which I learned in school, is not productive and will just leave me frustrated, and in tears.
You can't reason with her. You just can't.
But since I deleted it, I'll have to paraphrase from memory...
This particular message was one of her nice personalities.
She was sweet-as-pie.
"I see you are doing well. I watched your youtube videos. Wow. You have a beautiful voice..."
How nice of her to take a moment to listen to me sing for the first time, ever.
she went on to say:
"Make sure not to lie about me in your blog, anymore. It is not in tune with your spiritual journey. We are all connected. Remember that. You will always be connected to me."
That's generous paraphrasing. But you get the gist.
Now, some of you might be thinking:
"MAYBE SHE'S CHANGED! She sounds so sweet! Maybe it's all some big misunderstanding. Maybe you can work it out, with her?!"
Once again, I say...
....Violent, psychotic people don't just wake up one morning and decide to preach scripture and love the children they beat up and told to kill themselves, for 16 years.
They just don’t.
It took me almost 23 years to realize she wasn't ever going to change and that her behavior was unacceptable, INEXCUSABLE and not my fault.
Now that I know this things, I am not going to be dissuaded by one eerily nice-
Though grossly inaccurate, message.
Trust me, I have had many a conflict in my heart about having to let my mother go.
I do realize that she has absolved herself, within her own mind…
And maybe it's good that she has convinced herself that she is and has always been a great mom. Maybe keeping up the facade will make her a more decent human being.
I joke about it a lot, but in all seriousness…
It is really hard not having a mom.
It's really hard to will yourself into feeling like you are a part of the many amazing, wonderful, families that have accepted you into their homes and offered to help you in your journey and been so incredibly generous with their time and their love…
But never quite being able to fill the void.
There's no way to replace your mom.
In a way, she is right...though I'm sure she meant it in more of a threatening 'I'm watching you' type of way.
It is true that we will always be connected. I can't forget her. I can't pretend like she never existed. And I can't replace her with someone new.
It just doesn't work.
I've thought to myself many a time,
"Maybe she'll change. Maybe one day she will be honest with herself and admit what happened...what always happened. What happened all the time. Maybe one day, she'll say she's sorry. Maybe one day, she'll be my mom again.”
But 'one-day' isn't going to come.
Because Mom is just a three-letter word.
Mom doesn't spell, 'nurture.'
Mom doesn't spell, 'unconditional.'
Mom doesn't spell, 'truth.'
And mom, in this case, definitely does not have enough letters to spell, ‘love.'
Because, I'll say it again, love doesn't hurt.
I thought about responding and writing her a letter.
A letter written more for me, than for her.
A letter telling her how much she has hurt me.
How long it has taken me to let other people into my life.
How I still cry about it, sometimes.
How I still feel alone, sometimes.
How I have anxiety and panic-attacks and flashbacks and have been diagnosed with PTSD that is on par with a war veterans’ typical trauma response.
How it's easier to hate her.
To hold a grudge.
To pretend she never existed.
But I fight to hold onto the love I had for her when I was little.
We used to sleep in the car at the beach, instead of at home, because she loved the sound of the waves. She used to let me cuddle up next to her. She used to keep my picture in her wallet.
She used tell me she loved me.
When I was really little. Any hint of that love stopped when I was around 12 years old.
But I still remember.
I even remember the one time I saw her cry. We were still living in Arizona and I was around 3 or 4 years old.
I don't remember why she was crying. I do remember her sitting on the floor, of the living room in our furniture-less apartment. She had her head in her hands and she was crying.
And I remember crawling into her lap…and saying “mommy, please don’t cry anymore.”
I wish I could get in a time-machine and return to that moment.
That moment where she was so incredibly human…
I wish I knew why she was crying…
Maybe I would understand her better, if I did.
I feel like things just got worse and worse as I got older.
It felts as if she woke up one morning and just didn't want me anymore.
I was the bane of her existence.
I thought I was the perfect daughter.
I did everything to try and please her.
She always hit me growing up, but she always used to say she was sorry for hitting me so hard, afterwards. That was when I was younger.
Then she stopped apologizing, and started hitting me more and more. For every little thing.
There is nothing I wouldn't give to have the version of mom back that made me feel safe and loved.
But the mom I remember the most is the one that was mean, hurtful, violent. She wasn't always that far-gone…
Or maybe she was.
But when you're young your mom is a superhero. They can do no wrong in your eyes, even when they are the villain in the story.
And the pain is always worse when the person you love is the one dishing it out.
But I have come to realize that I cannot change someone…who doesn't want to be changed.
I can only walk away from her. I can only let her go.
Vengefulness isn't the solution. Waging a war, isn't the solution. Continuing to try to have a relationship with the person…isn't the solution, either.
The solution is…
To love yourself more than anyone else in this world. And to respect yourself enough to know that you are worthy of being loved.
Love shouldn’t hurt.
So with that…I am going to address her directly,
I know you're out there, still. I know you're reading this. I know you are seething with anger. I know you probably want to hurt me. To make me 'pay' for going against you.
I know you want to believe that what I'm saying isn't true.
And that your two children are nothing but horrible people. That's why neither of us have a relationship with you, anymore…
Because we're just lost.
We are just liars.
We just can't face that we are the problem.
Mom, I'm sorry.
I am sorry that you are alone.
I am sorry that we can't be a family.
I'm sorry that we never really were.
I will always love you.
I will always appreciate the fact that you gave me life, and I will always believe that you did everything you knew how to do, as a mom.
Everything you could.
That you tried to do all the things that a mom is supposed to do.
I don't think we can fix this.
I don't think that it's in either of our best interests to try.
I don't think we change the past.
I don't think that we can be a part of each other's future.
But I do know one thing:
One day, this life will be over.
One day everything will truly be a footprint in the sand.
Washed away with time.
Earthly and unimportant.
And the one thing I want to say to you…
The one thing I want you to leave this earth knowing, mom... Is that I will never stop loving you.
I won't even try to, anymore.
I don’t want to hurt you.
I don’t want to make things difficult for you, in any way.
I hope you are happier, now and living the life that you've always wanted.
I really do.
Because that's what I am doing.
I am living my life…
Which does not belong to you, mom.
You don't get to tell me what to think. Or what to say. Or how to act. Or who to become.
So you can threaten me, if you'd like.
You can try to scare me.
Or stalk me.
You can try to get me to stop sharing my story.
But mom…I am taking my power back.
I am taking my life back.
And I am free.
And I really, sincerely hope that one day…
You will be, as well.
Because I am not afraid, anymore.
And I love myself enough to know that I deserve to live the life of my dreams.
And I am letting you go, so that you can do the same.
I wish you all the best.
I hope you find whatever it is that you are searching for with
"peace, love and joy.”
I remember you used to say that, all the time, when I was a baby.
When I would get upset with you, you would make me repeat it.
You told me when bad things happened to me, including you hitting me…
You would say that I brought it upon myself.
You would make me repeat that phrase over and over again until you were satisfied that I was going to become a 'better person'.
You told me that if I was always 'sad', I would bring 'darkness' into your life.
So I had to always be "full of Peace, Love and Joy” so that I didn’t mess things up for you.
That's really all you've ever wanted, right?
Peace love and joy.
I pray that one day, you will find it.
This is the last time I will ever deliberately communicate with you.
I know this probably won't reach you…in your heart.
But I've said all I've needed to say. There is nothing more.
May god bless you, mom.