Many years ago when I was at my wits end from too much demand on my physical, mental and emotional energies, my youngest brother sent out unbeknownst to me or my disabled mother a letter to my other 7 siblings, requesting that they pony up and help our mother. In it he probably stated his case badly, but he saw firsthand what it was doing to me, with my every waking moment taken up with the care of our mother and wanted to help.
So off the letter went what followed was a barrage of hate mail to my mother, full of every small slight that they thirty and forty years earlier had perceived as her fault. These letters contained everything from her not stopping my drunken abusive father from stealing their paper route money, to taking away our paper dolls as a punishment and forgetting that she had.
For months afterwards I held her, listened to her and watched her cry. She was broken utterly and completely. You see she had always believed it was us against the world and her world had crashed. She had lived through her first boyfriend taking his own life after finding out his parents were lost in Germany at the beginning of WWII, they were Jewish. The back stabbing of her supposed friends who began spreading the rumor that it was because she was pregnant, that he had committed suicide. Running off with my father against her parents’ wishes, living without running water or the basic necessities of life and she made a game of it in her head, she played pioneer woman.
To the best of her ability without means to do so she finally left him and raised the last 5 of us single handedly without any support, after one too many attempts on his part to kill or beat her or her children. Was she perfect no, none of us are. Did she do all she could under the worst of circumstances with what she had in her to do yes. Did she deserve the hate that poured out of these letters no.
While listening to her every spare moment over the next months she said the saddest thing I had ever heard her say. “I used to look out this window and I wouldn’t see the parking lot and lamp posts, instead I would only see the trees off in the distance and all would be beautiful, now all I see is the parking lot.”
She loved her children and tried to make amends with them all. It took her till her death bed for some of them. Others it took me to write them and tell them special things she had told me of them and how proud she was of them and for what things.
I though am still dealing with the onslaught of hurt that these letters caused. Yes I have forgiven them but find it hard to trust them still. I do not tell them of my hurts or my inner life, nor do I share anything that would be possible for them to know me well, thus giving them power over me.
This is probably not particularly a good thing for me but it is self preservation. I love them but prefer to keep it as a support of their needs and at a distance. All I know is I am trying to find the support and love in a community of women that I never had. I am blessed with some of those I have connected with online and I will do everything in my power to be there for them as they have been for me.
I try to keep remembering that no one has the power to hurt me if I do not give it to them. Yet when I care I care with the depth and breadth of me, which unfortunately sometimes leaves me open to hurt. I however will not allow my life to be lost by not loving, supporting and caring even should it mean that I have given trust to the wrong person. I will go out and try again this is what my mother taught me. There finally came a point that she needed more physically then I could give and she made the decision to first go into assisted living and finally in her last year a nursing home. She chose this because she knew that if she didn’t it would kill me. She gave up what she perceived of as her life for me and in support of me so that I could find one.
I believe women should not make judgments without considering the other side. A friend shouldn’t ask another friend to choose between them. Offer support and if you don’t understand then ask.
I miss her.
From Emily's Blog on WomenontheVerge.net
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