I am about to become a mother. This is the scariest of moments and it’s doubly scary because I am afraid. I am afraid I will be like you. To expunge this feeling, I have been seeing a therapist who suggested I write this letter. I have been carrying this fear that history will repeat itself. I love my husband and he loves me but I can’t shake off the fear that he might do what my father did, and I will be like you.
To get rid of this fear, I need to grieve my childhood – the abuse, the trauma, the neglect and abandonment – and to move forward. I must take an honest inventory of myself before I embark on motherhood. I
want, no, I need to let you know how you made me feel. I felt like an intruder in your otherwise idyllic life. You called me a mistake many times; I understand you were frustrated because you planned to further your education, instead, I came along and impeded all that. The man who fathered me didn’t want children just yet, so his family found a way to keep you oceans and continents apart, and it broke you.
I now know you were sick. You had your own adult problems which pushed you towards the bottle. Most men who came into our lives only exacerbated your problems. However, you took it out on me, and this made me feel unsafe and unloved. I couldn’t understand why, now I do, and I forgive you. I also forgive you for pushing away the only man I felt was like a father to me – you said he was boring. Years later we found out he was gay. It wasn’t your fault, though you blamed yourself, “I pushed him over the edge!” You didn’t. He was always gay, society expected him to prove his manliness that was why he married you, but he couldn’t be happy living a lie. Nevertheless, he was very good to us, albeit boring.
For most of my adult life, I felt isolated, and when in the company of people, I craved approval and, in the process, lost my sense of identity. I became a people pleaser, therefore, losing all my self-esteem and self-respect. I became a bad judge of character and ended up in pretty bad spots over the years. On the rare occasion, I felt strong and able to stand up for myself, I was consumed with guilt.
This is not a blame letter. This is my therapy. I need to let you know how you made me feel. How most of what you did impact my adult life today. I can’t shake the victim veil that I carry with me everywhere, even when I shouldn’t. I can learn to live with it and move forward.
For years I’ve been unable to differentiate love from pity and have wasted a considerable amount of time on people who sensed my insecurities and took total advantage. For example, my first husband who I’m glad you never met, knew all about your disease, he promised to love me forever but instead used everything against me and I was terrified of being alone. I did things I am not proud of to hold on to that relationship and it chipped away at the little confidence I had. I became emotionally dependent on things and people that did nothing to heal me. I suppose these are the effects of having an emotionally absent, cold and distant mother.
I now understand you were sick. It’s ok so please don’t offer explanations: I don’t need to know them now or ever.
Still, I am happy to tell you that I am now happily married to a man who understands me more than I understand myself and he is helping me heal.
I hope this letter bridges the gap between us and you will reach out. I will support you in your healing as you support me in mine.
I know your demons prohibited you from being a good mother, but I know you will be a stupendous grandmother.
Please let’s heal together.
Your loving daughter
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