We all have letters we’d like to send, but know that we can’t. A letter to someone we no longer have a relationship with, a letter to a family member or friend who has died, a letter to reclaim our power or our voice from an abuser.
Letters where actual contact is just not possible.
Do you have a letter you can’t send?
Why not send it to The Band?
This is what I would like to tell my mom, and probably would if she weren’t in a fragile state. She’s been wheelchair bound since my second child was born and my daughter is now nearing junior high school. How she ended up in a wheelchair isn’t at issue at this point. Needless to say, she is simply too weak to hear this stuff.
Did you ever wonder why I was so angry as a young man? Or why I only had a single friend when I was going through school? You should remember the angry tantrums that I used to pull. The anger I showed you was caused by a deep, horrid certainty that I was useless and doomed to failure. That I could never trust people or achieve anything of moment in life.
While a lot of this is standard fare for a teenager, you never informed dad about any incident as far as I can tell. He was never the kind of man to sit still for such nonsense. Did you stop to think when you told me as a very young child that I was a “surprise?” It didn’t take me long to figure out that “surprise” meant accident, and that you didn’t intend to make me. From that time on, I wondered if everyone would be happier without me, or if I even was truly wanted in the home.
What about the grades, Mom? You know, when I began failing in high school and you would hide the facts from Dad. Of course a child would accept help in such a way. I didn’t want to be in trouble at home AND school, after all. It’s a repeated pattern with you.
Consistently, you would “shelter” your little boy from Dad’s wrath, which was rather corporal, yet never over the top. Yet you failed entirely to protect me from sexual predators. Yes, mother I was molested as a child. I, your little boy, was fucked by a teenage girl belonging to a “trusted” family. My innocence was gone by fourth grade, Mother. Then, listening to your gossip, I learned that you never really even liked that family and thought their mother to be disgusting and immoral. Why, then, was I allowed to mix with them? Did you never wonder why I didn’t have any friends or why I quit playing with the other children from that family? I really believed that my molester was my girlfriend. You have no idea how confused and hurt I was when I saw her with a boy her own age. I had no one to confide in, and as children who are abused often feel that they would get into more trouble.
You were already struggling with demons of your own, of which I had known a little from the time I was in second grade when you were first hospitalized for “stress.” Junior high came around, and while I seemed to be okay, inside I was dying. I felt completely alone, as sex abuse survivors often do. I went through those three years with one friend who I met in fifth grade.
Then, you decided you were divorcing Dad. We moved out and lived for a few months in another town. You went back to father because, as I later found out, he bribed you. Yes, he cashed money from his retirement account and gave you a lump sum of cash to spend at your discretion. That caused me to lose a lot of respect for you. That was a single summer and back to the home. It was fucked up mom.
Junior high progressed. Even then I would have horrid angry outbursts of hopeless despair which should have caused some questions. Mom, why didn’t you do anything to get me help then?
High school came along and I gave up my choir aspirations. I didn’t have the confidence to try out for the high school choir, even though I had pulled straight A’s in all my choir work for junior high and earned a place on the Honor Choir. Indeed, I began to give up on everything then. I didn’t have many friends and had no visitors or invitations during summer breaks to anything. You never wondered why I never went steady with a girl, and asked only one out, and only then after repeated assurances that she would say yes? I pushed away my best friend in this time, in favor of what I thought were better friends. I’m lucky he forgave me, when I asked for his forgiveness.
I joined the Navy, only to flunk their psych evaluation and be sent home after five or so weeks. So there I was in the airport, defeated. You were so out of it, Mom. Dad was obviously exhausted. Apparently, it was getting near to another stay in the hospital for you. Not that they did you any good, except for to get you to decide to pretend everything was okay, so you could get out. Do you remember that ride home and the crazy things you talked about? In any case, Mother, you couldn’t handle your little boy leaving and broke down again. I needed some strength and real help then, Mom. But you, once again, were in trouble. I felt guilty by even thinking, “Dammit, I need my parents right now!” But Dad was dealing with your outbursts and insomnia. And so, once again, I kept my secrets and felt an utter failure. I know you’ve had difficulties Mama, but this isn’t about you right now.
You must realize that I was neglected by you in a few ways. Sure, you kept the house clean and meals on the table, but you never would inform my father of things that he had the right to know, like my failing grades. I was allowed to withdraw unhealthily into fantasy-like video games and television. You didn’t make me do the the things that I should have been doing, Mom. Dad could have helped you with that, if you would have let him. But I knew you, and I played you to keep the bad grades secret, just like any teenager would do, given the chance.
You did all that shit with my older sister, to the Nth degree, keeping her from facing the music for so long that she’s now a drug addict with no job, car, house, or self-respect. I escaped that because all along, since second grade, I have resented you. Yes. Resented that I couldn’t have a mommy that didn’t pick crazy fights with dad as we were watching a baseball game, eating dinner, or whatever. A mommy that wouldn’t freak out at tiny problems and scare the shit out of me with lies fashioned to keep me safe, that only served to inhibit my sense of trust in the world. A mommy who didn’t get so tired she wouldn’t talk to me or Dad and had to be taken to hospital on regular intervals.
I love ya, Mom, but you sure fucked up bad.
Four kids, one alcoholic, another a depressed, self-loathing mess (me) and a drug addict forever child. My oldest brother is the most well-balanced of the four of us, and I truly believe it’s because he spent the greater majority of his time with Father. Why did you “protect” us three from Dad so much? I have a good relationship with my father now, but my brother and sister haven’t spoken with him in years, in any meaningful way.
Do you know why dad was so grumpy all the time, mom? Because he slogged his ass of in a coal mine for twelve hours a day, six days a week and came home to either a batshit crazy or a sweet as pie wife–he never knew what to expect. He paid your way, Mom, and you resented him for it! He never made you stay home, you could have had your own money. Instead, you spent him into debt with secret credit cards, on more than one occasion. I remember the fights. They were the only ones that had any kind of justification. In other words, Dad was right!
You even kept him from forming decent relationships with the majority of his children.
Mom, I love you, but you have messed up three of your kids. That is a fact. I am now thirty six and struggle daily with feelings of empty, horrid loneliness and depression. These things are only bigger for me now, and I resent that you had every reasonable signal that something was very wrong with your child and you did …nothing. NOTHING!
I am now a father, and if one of my children began behaving the ways that I did, I would most certainly get them to someone for help. It’s not normal to rage the ways I did. Now I know it’s because of the injustice of abuse and the feeling that I wasn’t really wanted in the home.
I’m fixing these problems now, Mom, and without your help, just as before. It’s fucked, and I’m still kinda pissed off that all the signs were there. Sure, it was the early nineties. You watched enough talk shows to see at least one child psychiatrist telling parents signs of trouble in a kid. This fucking rock I’ve been toting for so goddamned long is a big bastard now. I’m pissed that I’ve had to do that carrying for so long. I’ve learned so much in my reading that I know that things wouldn’t be so bad NOW, if you would had done more THEN. Maybe you could have found yourself some decent help along the way, too.
I’m taking action now, Mom. I’m a big boy and have been taking care of myself. I’m getting the help I need, but my problems are compounded now by a failed marriage and the breakdown of my little family. This isn’t easier. Time didn’t make this shit go away. Indeed its only become worse.
I will overcome.
I love you mom. I hate you too. I don’t like it, and certainly this is going to be something that I address in therapy. But I’m doing it, finally, and that’s the point.