Anonymous Story: An Open Letter to My Mother

Anonymous Story: An Open Letter to My Mother

An open letter to my mother.

My earliest memories of you were when you were changing my diaper. When I asked about how old we were when we moved from the house you said 10 months. The memory plays without any sound and all I remember are colors, the feeling of being completely uncomfortable, and you angrily adjusting the diaper. I’m not sure what the circumstances were, but that memory seems to have colored everything in my life and encouraged by the further way you raised me.

You got pregnant not that far into the relationship with my father and married him after you were expecting me. This would set the precedent for the life you gave me, until I took it back. You always say you’re there for me yet I have no memories of hugs and kisses, of coloring, of doing my hair happily, really anything that mother’s and daughters do. You have no idea of the pain inside of me because you cannot or will not be any different. Based on your history and the way you deal with things, I’m thinking it’s likely because you can’t. Which makes me even sadder.

When I was about four or five you started to let me walk to my uncle’s house alone. I don’t have many memories of the earlier visits, but I have some vague ones. He groomed me into trust and then broke it. I have memories of what he did to me Mama. Bad ones. He never hurt me until the end. They always seemed like silly games that involved body parts that shouldn’t be mixed with children or their mouths. We would arrive at grandma’s house because Daddy would drink again because of whatever tension there was between you. Uncle would call on the phone making silly animal noises. He would encourage me to come over. I always got a sick feeling, but he always bought me presents from the department store downtown to make up for it. He also took me to the local business that was later found to have a secret photography studio in the back. When that shit hit the fan, it flew. I know some of the other victims growing up and I’m unsure if there are photos of me, but I do remember the paper bag Uncle got from him across a red or dark reddish brown counter.

The last day, the one he hurt me on, he promised a very special trip. He bought me a plastic toy that had metal in it and you could bend it around and make it pose in funny characters. I was 7, Mama. I was wearing a pair of black stirrup pants and a white sweatshirt that had kittens and blue ribbons all over it. That day he said he wanted to do something even more special. Since the other times never hurt, and I knew it wasn’t normal, I felt guilty if I didn’t do as I was told. He then tried to put his penis inside me. I was in the bathroom off the kitchen that also had a counter across from the bathroom. It was on that counter that he violated me. When he tried, I remember screaming to stop that it hurt. At that point I guess the opportunity was just too good to give up and he did what he wanted. I remember blood. I remember hurting and I remember him telling me that it was our secret and that it would hurt my family to find out I’d behaved badly. On the way home he had to hold my hand because I could hardly walk.

The whole way home I remember what my grade 2 teacher had said about strangers hurting children. I knew this was something like that, Mama. In my mind all I could think of was if I told then all these police cars would show up at my grandma’s and he’d know because he lived so close. I was wrong Mama. I told you. I told you and you broke my heart.

I couldn’t say anything to anyone, you told me. It would hurt Grandma’s feelings and that Daddy would get mad and kill Uncle and end up in jail. The entire time you were sobbing and crying. You did nothing to protect me and you did nothing to love me after. You cut all my hair off into a short bowl cut and I got chubby. You started to dress me in more pretty dresses and other things and I hated them.
Daddy was a drug addict and an alcoholic with mental health issues that never seemed to cross your mind as you would ream into him about his habits and lack of better self. One night it got so bad he sat there on the bed in his blue underwear and held a shot gun to my head telling you to shut up. All I could think of was how happy everyone would be if I wasn’t there at school tomorrow and how all your problems would be gone. Grandma never let me forget it was my fault you got married.

Enter my sister. So little and perfect. I vowed to protect her and make sure she never got hurt. I didn’t know in the end that you would take that too. The dynamic started slowly with me helping to care for her, sneak her out windows and drive the car down the block so you can hop in. Slowly it pushed into me being responsible while you and Daddy worked shift work and like most kids, she never listened, but I got punished for not getting her to do her chores. She’d call you or Grandma at work and that’s when you’d get really angry with me. She became the favorite and I accepted my role, the family garbage can. You sold me out.

Daddy was in and out of rehab and mental institutions during my informative preteen years and early teen years. That resulted in me withdrawing. You never made me lunches. My teacher used to bring an extra one. I was too hungry and would silently cry as she tried to talk to me. It was really embarrassing. Then the bullying started. That I could handle at least, even though it put more pressure on me. I got straight Bs, Cs, and Ds consistently. Teachers would look and you knew they had an idea of what you were going through. Some were kind and made me feel special. I’ve thanked every single one of them as an adult. Some were not so kind. I had to learn to fight for me outside the home like I did inside the home.

The final time I stood up to Daddy ended with me punching him and him punching me in the face. I left at 17 and even have a photo you took of it. Daddy left not too shortly after I did. Then when we were gone the men started. Sister left home and your life was finally yours.

Do you remember the times we lived in women’s shelters, the times we slept in the car, the times we hid at people’s houses. I remember one time we were at Grandma’s where you liked to run to and I hid under Aunt’s bed in the dark not breathing as Grandma yelled at him on the phone that we weren’t there. Holding my breath hurt that it started to burn. I was afraid he’d hear me and come for us. Then would come the fucking plastic flowers and gifts. Daddy stopped buying them for me when he realized I didn’t want them. I still can’t handle getting flowers from my husband now.

I think the hardest part of all of this is suffering from symptoms of PTSD and anxiety. I have a family of my own, but I find it hard to make friends. I find it hard to have friends. I find it hard to trust. My heart is smashed into thousands of tiny fragments and I’m trying desperately to find them all and put them together. I’ve done pretty good so far. The sadness and grief I feel is so fucking deep I feel like I’m drowning when the flashbacks happen. Mostly they’re of him and what he used to make me do for him. Mama, do you know what it’s like to tell your children not to put things in their mouth that can make them choke? I had to explain it the other day which triggered a lot of bad memories. I told my own baby that choking is very scary. You can’t breath and you start to react by panicking, which is an instinctive response. You try to dislodge what is there and cannot. You try to breath, you cannot. You feel the burning in your lungs as your vision gets black and fuzzy and your brain feels like you spun on a swing in circles for hours. I have to make sure all my children are okay if I hear any kind of choking sounds. It’s become the biggest trigger lately. I suffer insomnia sometimes for a few days.

Mama, why? I’m not angry. I’m too past angry now. Now I just want to know, why? Uncle’s secrets have spilled even before I was an adult. His own children. Family friends. His own siblings. Why???

The most horrible thing for me is that family is everything. Normal people find out you don’t have contact with your family or even the darker secrets. The look in their eyes always changes to pity or avoidance. They can’t understand how that kind of evil exists. It doesn’t phase me when I hear stories of other people anymore. It just makes me sad. People don’t realize how prevalent it is. They all want to close their doors and windows and ignore it. Just like you.

All I ever wanted was a family and to be loved. Is that too much to ask? I have no father, I have no mother, and I have no sister. I’m emotionally and mentally abandoned. When I confronted you, you admitted it. Over the months I tried to connect with you to talk about it you would go back and forth to blaming Uncle to having too much going on at that time, to not remembering. He. Raped. Me. I have no proof except maybe those photos. The news stories in the day kept speaking out about how there were lots of victims. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to ask about it with the police.

I don’t have it in me to send this letter to you and break the wall of silence I created. I don’t want you or my sister or any of your family in my life. I don’t feel better when I’m around you. I feel worse. When I think of you, I just feel such a senseless waste. I have all these things inside and if I try to share them with you I have all your family calling me bad names and saying even worse things about me. I really needed to get this out there though Mama. I never told you what he did. I wanted you and everyone else to know that. It’s the only way I can move forward and leave you behind forever.

I’m so sorry it had to be this way.

Love, your scapegoat.

Author

WYR

WYR

When You're Ready.org is a community for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories.

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