It took me thirty-eight years to understand that it wasn’t so much that you didn’t raise me as it was that you couldn’t raise me. That there was a difference in ability rather than responsibility and that truthfully, choosing life, was the most important gift you could have ever given me. It was in that moment where forgiveness began replacing resentment and a gratefulness was fostered.
More days than I care to admit I believed the lie that I was unwanted, unloved and unseen because I felt that way by you. However, I don’t believe that lie as often these days. It wouldn’t be fair to lie to you and say that I never slip back into those moments of where I remember what it feels like growing up without a mother, because I do. However, I have a choice to make peace with my past and to remember that just because you gave birth to me does not mean you were meant to raise me and I thank you for choosing to give me life when you didn’t have to. In fact, my being a mother today is because the first thing you were supposed to do a mother, you did right.
It was around this time I learned the the events that modified the narrative of what my have been an otherwise “normal” mother-daughter relationship. One where you were present, one where you could have came from a place of choice rather than circumstance. When we mature and become parents ourselves our eyes are opened to an unparalleled level of understanding. There are situations that as children we are unable to sympathize with, wrap our heads around or see selflessly. What I saw was a mother who gave up, a mother choosing addiction and not choosing me. What I failed to see was a woman who was hurting, self-medicating and lost. When I was four years old taking care of myself and my two-year-old brother, it wasn’t because you couldn’t be bothered to care for us, it was because you were unable to care for yourself enough to even get out of bed. You were in many ways crippled by the blows life had served and a storm that still to this day has you in its grasp.
I understand depression, and although drugs/alcohol are not an addiction I know, I understand addiction manifests in other ways. Believe me when I say that there have been my share of days where depression has crippled me, days where getting out of bed is impossible and days where my unhealthy choices and patterns came before everything and everyone else including myself. You may not have raised me but we are more alike than you will ever realize.
You need to know something and I hope you let this really sink in. If I were six months along carrying my first child at eighteen, and my sixteen-year-old sister was raped and murdered and left along a highway, it would break me too. If nine months after having my baby, my mother died of alcoholism and a broken heart – I might have given up too. Additionally dealing with your sisters murder being unsolved for thirty-eight years, postponing any sense of closure is unbearable. Those are near impossible odds for anyone to come up against and win. Not to mention the small detail of who my father was, how I know he was to you – I’d go so far as to say you did the best you could. And, if the best you could do was to bow out, than I give you a standing ovation. If the best you could do was give me a better life by leaving than you succeeded. At the end of the day that is two things you did right by me, and from the depths of my heart I thank you.
There were moments where I felt alone, where I was angry, and where hate replaced any existence of love but those moments are in the past. It is important that you know I don’t hate you, I don’t even blame you to be honest and that I turned out just fine. My life may have looked different, my path may have been messier than most but God provided the people, the path and the direction I needed. It is not even me that I worry about anymore if I am honest; it’s you. My moments of questioning have cycled to where you are, who you’re with, and what you’re doing now. My mind also wanders to a place of where I’ll receive the same phone call I got when dad died and whether the loss will feel like a loss that I haven’t already processed. I need you to know, just in case you have regrets that keep you up late at night and I am one of them, or I’m a heartache that is numbed by any substance – you can let that go. Please let that go. Forty years ago you chose life for me, and my prayer for you this Mother’s Day, is that you choose life now for yourself.
I’ll keep praying, Happy Mother’s Day and Thank you.