Note: You may wish to read Shell of a Girl first.
I received this letter from my mother when I was 27 and filing for divorce. I was livid and fired off a scathing response first thing, hitting send without any reservation, severing my ties with her for good.
Excerpts from The Letter
Are you ever going to get help for yourself? And why is it that anything you do is supposed to be okay? Everyone else is always wrong, aren’t they? You’ve been a spoiled little girl all your life.
And yes, I know how you’ve told everyone you were so abused as a child. I don’t know whose childhood you relive all the time but it wasn’t yours. Who knows, past is past.
All I know is all you kids were raised with the same principles and morals and you’re the only one that’s always been dishonest. And you know what’s so sad is that you’re dishonest with yourself. A lot of your problems stem from guilt for all the wrong you’ve done to others and yet you hurt yourself the most with it.
I’ve been there for you through an abortion, a miscarriage, the birth of my grandson, your marriage. Anytime you needed me I was there for you. How quickly one forgets.
You need to come to terms with all you’ve done wrong and learn to forgive yourself. Until you do you won’t be happy in any relationship.
Hate me if you must. We know it’s because you know I’m right.
Excerpts from The Response
‘Anytime you needed me I was there for you.’
That’s the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard. You were there with me through an abortion because you had to be in order to force me to have it done, when what I wanted to do was give it up for adoption. You were there with me through a miscarriage because it was mandatory that the hospital have your consent to treat me. You fail to realize that you are not a perfect parent. You fail to realize that when I needed someone on a deeper level than just as a requirement between the ages of 14 and 17, you offered nothing.
What baffles me to no end right now is the fact that in the last 5 years, you have not made a single effort to contact me. You came out for my wedding, have met and spoken to my “husband” only as many times as we have been up there, and yet suddenly you feel you know our entire situation.
I guess what confuses me is how you could have so little interest in my life and suddenly you’re as involved as though it were your own relationship. It’s not and it never was. Your relationships have not all been picture perfect, and never once have I ever heard you take even partial blame for the failure of one of them.
That seems to be the one base difference between me and you: I admit to my shortcomings.
Sorry if you think my leaving for the very valid reasons that I did means I am “playing the victim.” I’m not. He and I both had a part to play in this and apparently I’m the only one admitting any of it.
I will probably hold parts of the conversation you had with [my ex] against you for a very long time because he did tell me what was said. So either you were lying to him, or you were lying to me – again. Whichever one it is, I don’t have it in me to care anymore.
At 32, seventeen years after the events that changed my life forever, the last letter I received from my biological mother resurfaced. I did the only thing I could do in response to it, despite the response it did get when I’d first received it five years prior:
The Unsent Letter
I’m not bothering to send you this letter because I know that it wouldn’t do any good.
I wish you could see how you have emotionally crippled me to a point that I cannot get anything back.
I wish that after 17 years I could be over this same old bullshit that sideswipes me from out of the blue every now and again.
I wish that my fucking idiot of a sister would just acknowledge everything for once and see what it is that she has contributed to this.. and, perhaps if you hadn’t allowed her to be so fucked in the head as well, she would have had the presence of mind and the feelings of self-worth that could have led to something more than just “settling” for her pedophile husband.
Of course, I am the only one still living in the past, still reliving what you, and everyone else, said and did.
You admitted to me that you thought our stepfather molested us both; that it was the reason you sent her to live with her father.
Your ultimate solution was not to divorce him for the safety of your children, but to “watch him more closely.”
Just as your ultimate solution where the family was concerned was to stand behind my sister’s disbelief to, as you said, protect her from being hurt.
What about my hurt?
You admitted that you had no doubts that I had told you the truth when it came to what your son-in-law did to me two months before my 15th birthday. You even told me that he did it as revenge against my sister for the affair that she had. You told me all of that long after I suffered the damage of growing up in a house being shunned by everyone for my “lies.” For one brief moment, I had a small amount of vindication.
To my detriment, I thought you would stand by those words, but years later you revoked every last one of them behind my back to my (then) soon-to-be ex-husband by telling him that it was all lies; sympathizing with him about how fucked up your daughter was and how sorry you were that I hurt him and how desperately I needed therapy to overcome this need I have to gain attention from everyone by fabricating a life that I never lived.
I cut you from my life after that.
Your apparent response was no response. No attempt at apology, not that I could actually take it seriously anymore, all things considered.
The only thing you have ever been consistent with is finding new ways to open the old wounds and I ran out of bandages long ago.
As long as we ignored every problematic issue between us we were fine… or, rather, as fine as we could ever hope to be. I wish I could be happy with that as a relationship, but I can’t. So instead, I opt for nothing.
I’m not happy with that, either.
I hate hating you, but I don’t see any other way to protect myself from further damage: the damage I know you could inflict if I gave you that opportunity. I hate hating you because I don’t think you do any of these things intentionally, but the fact that you do the majority of these things blindly is even more dangerous. I hate hating you because it means explanations to my children I’d rather avoid.
I hate hating you, but it seems to be my only safe option.