My daughter has been very ill for the last three years. In just the last year she has been to the emergency room 28 times. She has been virtually bed ridden for the last year. She has had her gallbladder removed along with tons and tons and tons of tests. She still has another Mayo Clinic visit and another MRI just this week. Watching her suffering and feeling helpless has been not only heart wrenching but devastating emotionally as a parent. Twenty four hours a day my husband and I are taking care of her every need. We don’t get much rest. It is safe to say I am like a frazzled little piece of rope at this point hanging on to a tiny string that still connects me to my purpose and my end goal of getting my daughter well.
My daughter is my everything. I cherish her. I respect her. I value her. I dreamed of being a mom since I was 8 years old. I pray she heals from this illness. I pray that she can enjoy life and ride horses and run in the wind like she used to. I will, regardless of her health, stay by her side no matter what. We have talked endlessly about this process and the emotions that are affected by being house bound and bedridden. I try my best to support her but I am only human. I am tired. I can get impatient and frustrated but that is typically from my own physical pain and lack of sleep. I know I am not perfect but I try my best.
I prepare her meals and bring them to her. I make sure she takes all of her supplements and herbs and vitamins. I count the calories and protein and fluid intake daily. I wash her hair for her because she doesn’t have the strength to do it on her own. I try to be as physically and emotionally present for her as much as humanly possible.
She has always been my focus though. I have always tried to be the best mother I can be. Not just because of her illness but in life, it has been my honor to be her mother.
Since her illness, this has been particularly challenging for me due to the muscle disease/lyme disease/osteoporosis that I have. The pain that I have in my muscles and bones is not manageable and most of the time not tolerable. It takes every single ounce of strength I have in every part of my being to be the mother I want to be and feel she deserves with the physical body I have been given.
I have no regrets. I feel blessed to be able to take care of her. This time is precious to me. Although it has come with great pain and suffering, we have not wavered in our family(my husband, my daughter, and me)from love or strength to persevere.
A year ago, right before she had her gallbladder removed, was one of the scariest times in her health for me. The unknown is scary. Even now her illness leaves me with a constant pit in my stomach. But a year ago she was very critically ill. Prior to her surgery I wrote my father a letter which is posted here in my blog. The letter was ending my relationship with my father and giving specific details of the abuse that I endured throughout my life. The letter was intended to give answers to questions that have been relentlessly pushed upon me for my entire life. It was very very raw truth. It was shared with other members of my immediate family as a way to keep them in the loop of the truth. It was what they all wanted to know so they all finally had it written on paper.
In my truth there has been great beauty. In truth there should be great beauty. Beautiful people with beautiful souls have come into my life. Beautiful hearts have loved me. Truth and beauty should go hand in hand. Because in truth lies freedom and freedom is beautiful.
After I wrote this letter I received what I can only categorize as ugly. It was unfortunate that my truth showed other’s ugly. My stepfather wrote to me on many occasions insinuating that I had attacked my mother and her parenting. In his emails he wrote, ” I certainly hope you enjoy your own ‘reality'”, I am far more concerned about your mother and what you have done to her than I am about your situation”, ” It is beyond me why you would want to spew your venom about your ‘bad parents'”. In regards to my daughter he wrote, “It seems as though you have poisoned her against her grandmother….Your mother has tried to contact her on several occasions, and except for one time, no response. How proud you must feel.” In regards to letting others in my family read my letter he wrote, ” They were not involved and had no need to be told all the ‘nitty-gritty’!!! What could bet the motivation- revenge??” And his last sentence was this, ” So, rest assured, until you have received that counseling and learn to forgive, you have succeeded in estranging yourself from the entire family.”
The truth was too hard for them to hear. So I must need therapy! I must want revenge! I must want to hurt people! I must have my own reality that is no one elses! I must have poisoned my daughter against my mother!
My motivation was telling the truth which they asked for but in the end didn’t really want to hear. My reality is the only true reality which they have yet to actually face. The idea that my step father is more concerned with what I “have done” to my mother is absurdity.
My mother is playing a very good victim. She has her husband and others feeling very sorry for what I have presumably done to her. Nothing has been done to her. She has created her feelings from living in denial of the truth in the words I have written. She has no idea what it feels like to be a victim. Although she has mastered playing one very well. She has the entire family running away from me at a funeral no less because who knows what I MAY do! It is laughable the way one can manipulate a situation so that they don’t ever have to face the truth. It is unacceptable as well. I will speak the truth. Innocent people do not run. Innocent people stand and speak their truth. Cowards run. Cowards show ugliness. I think it is all they know. I believe in my mother stands an incredibly strong and loving heart. Playing a victim is a very ugly role. That ugliness has taken away her ability to be who she was meant to be.
“Playing a victim” means acting as if you have been victimized. A victim is an innocent person that has had a crime committed against them. Acting like a victim typically means you are seeking attention as IF you have been innocently harmed in a crime. When you tell your story of abuse there will be those who will want to get all the attention. They will want to take the attention away from you who has truly been the victim of the crime. I believe they do this out of misplaced guilt or even rightful guilt. I believe they do this to deny accountability. But mostly I believe a victimless person will turn attention to themselves because they cannot face the real victim. BECAUSE they see that person as damaged, or weak, or add any adjective here. They do not see the person who is speaking the truth as a true survivor. The cannot see the survivor or validate the survivor so they turn. They turn away from the survivor and back to themselves. They turn inward and while doing so they keep the truth shrouded in ugliness. They will never see the real beauty in the truth until they can see the survivor. That takes selflessness. That takes strength. That takes unconditional love. I believe many survivors of abuse are experiencing their family members attacking them for telling the truth. Denying their truth. I have heard many stories and I can relate to them completely.
My stepfather spoke on behalf of my entire family by saying that I was estranged. I estranged myself unless I abided by these certain conditions. No conditions will be put upon me. I did nothing wrong. I do not need to grovel to gain my way back into family that knows nothing about true love. None of you do. None of you need to ever beg for unconditional love and commitment and validation for the crimes that have been committed against you.
I WAS MOLESTED. I WAS RAPED. Those are facts. Many people played a part in my life in which they could have facilitated healing or they could have chosen to stuff everything under the rug. They chose to stuff it under the rug. They chose to keep it a secret and act like it never happened. Writing these things down on paper simply holds up a mirror to their faces. I am not responsible for their reaction to the truth. I am not responsible for their behavior after reading the truth. My step father didn’t think others wanted the “nitty gritty”? That is not his choice to make. They were not my secrets to keep. There was one victim and one survivor. That person is me. I recently read a blog that talked about how “messy” abuse and family responses can be. They shouldn’t be but they are.
When I first started receiving these emails from my stepfather I threw up. He was the father that I had always wanted and for 10 years had filled that role with love and support. I pondered his comments and where they were coming from. I thought about his defense of my mother and how she may have been feeling. I thought about his hateful words towards me. I thought about the lies he was telling. But mostly I thought about the ugliness. My truth brought out a truly ugly side of him. Denial reveals ugliness. Denial creates excuses, lies, and deep ugliness. The letter I wrote was addressed “Dad” because it was written to my father. But my mother took it personally and sent her husband to attack with words typed behind the cowardice of a computer screen. Revealing abuse is extremely difficult. writing the words and saying the words are sometimes life long challenges. My truth was personal to me. No one else can take your abuse personally. If they are then their focus is not where it should be.
We have all at one time or another been “bad parents”. I accept that even though I have done my very best I still have had some bad parenting moments. I have apologized for them. I have seen them, been accountable for them, and apologized to my daughter for them. The focus of the letter to my father was not bad parenting. The focus was the details of the abuse that happened to me. Some of that abuse could have been prevented. I believe my mother, at the time, did the best that she could do. She knew no different and parented as she thought was the best parenting she could do. I do not blame my mother or my father for any “bad parenting” that led to my abuse. I think it is tragic, looking back, that they did not have wider eyes to the bad in the world and protect me from it. But I do not blame them. I don’t need to forgive them, as my stepfather said I did. Forgiveness is not his to order. Unless THEY feel they need to be forgiven. My mother should not need forgiveness as I believe she did what she felt was right at that time. They must though, infact, have their own accountability for the things that happened to me. I am sure it hurt to read that if only they had paid attention more then so many things would not have happened. But this is the truth. The truth is painful. Out of the truth can come many things. It is unpredictable and one cannot really know what to expect as I have found.
I released the 30 some years of secrets of abuse in the letter I wrote to my father. I wrote that letter because a therapist asked me to years ago but I was not ready to. I finally did. My brother equated my letter to a bomb that I lit and then expected my family to be understanding.
My family created the bomb. They mixed all the perfect ingredients to create the perfect bomb of lies and secrets. They did that. I simply lit a fuse which needed to be lit 30 years ago. I exploded it and every nasty, dirty, prideful, lie that went along with it. To my brother I say, “Yes, absolutely they should have been understanding! It was their bomb!”
I started writing this today because I ran across the emails that my stepfather sent to me. I reread all of them. I wondered if in a year time since he had written them I would see them differently as I did the day I threw up after reading them. I thought about the strength it took me to finally share the details of the abuse and how he victimized me again by trying to blame and shame me. At the time I was broken hearted and felt like a victim all over again. Once again I was faced with those who didn’t know how to be real or true or honest. Once again I was faced with family who could not embrace me and love me unconditionally. Once again I saw a family who cared more about their own pride than their daughter just like 30 years ago. But 30 years ago they didn’t know any better. Now they do!
But reading those emails, I feel differently now. I started this blog and wrote about my daughter here first for a reason. Because I know what a mother is supposed to be. I know that I will do ANYTHING for my daughter. I will drop my pride, I will be accountable, I will apologize, I will be humble, I will be strong, I will be loving. And I will NEVER abandon her. Nothing she can every say will make me leave her. If she wrote a letter to me like I wrote to my father, I would hold her,love her, and rush to her side. I would put her before myself. I will put her before myself.
I believe my mother did that when I was abused. I believe that she tried her best. I forgave her for everything in my childhood because she was going through it blindly like the rest of us.
But reading through the emails that my stepfather wrote about me poisoning my daughter against my mother needs perspective.
My mother has written my daughter many cards. My daughter reads them. My daughter puts them on the table next to her bed and rolls over. How could my daughter not reply to my mother? Could I be telling my daughter to not respond to my mother? Really…We don’t have time for the games that they are playing. We don’t have the energy to put thought into what their agenda is anymore. There is no poisoning my daughter against my mother. My daughter knows the full truth. My daughter is too sick to speak. My daughter is too sick to write. My daughter is too sick to walk to another room.
So while the family is pondering what I must be telling my daughter…know this…she knows everything…and she is too sick to care. She is battling a battle that goes far beyond petty games that a prideful cowardice family is trying to play. Her daily goal is to be able to sit up, eat, and drink! My daily goal is to get her there.
The perspective is this. My daughter and I are fighting to regain health. We are in the trenches. We are living second to second and trying to survive in hopes of a miracle for each of us. No one cares about a card. Real love is in the actions that you show. A real mother would be right here every single step of the way regardless of how her feelings may have been inadvertently hurt. A real mother would fight for her daughter and fight for her family. I do not blame the mother I had as a child. I blame the mother I have now.I know what forgiveness is because I have forgiven in the past. Reading the emails and reaction I received from the letter detailing my abuse only makes me feel one thing for my entire family- pity.
I survived being sexually abused for years. I finally told the truth to my family and I survived their inappropriate, hateful, and denying response.
I know I am not alone. I know there are many reading this who have had friends and family that have abandoned them, blamed them, attacked them. I wrote little bits of my family drama to share with you all the complex workings of what should be a very simple response. None of this needed to happen. The complicated drama that became my family was completely avoidable. All it would have taken was ONE person stepping up and showing their beauty in the face of my truth instead of their ugliness.
If you have survived abuse you are in no way responsible for the reaction of your family and friends. You have no control over them. They will either support you and lift you up. They will give you strength when you ran out. Or they will desert you. If they desert you, it will take time to process. It will take time to let them go. You will miss what you thought would happen and what you thought you had. But if they left you, let them go. If you survived abuse and those around you don’t have the strength to hear your truth, let them go. If you speak about your abuse and friends or family don’t support you, let them go. If you are with people that make you feel alone, remind you of your past, and control you with their secrets, let them go.
The only response I should have received from my family after my truth was love. That is what family is supposed to do. That is what my husband and I do. The rest of my family could not do that. My daughter has been through hell in the last few years. My family knew that. She is still scarily ill. My truth revealed EVERYONE’S truth. My truth showed their ugliness, so I let them go. My stepfather’s words mean nothing to me a year after I read them. They are just ugly words, from an ugly person, that I have chosen to finally let go.
We need our mothers. We need their unwavering love. I thought that I would have that for an eternity with my mother. It is something my daughter will never lack. For all of you survivors who have had to let go of so many due to their non-supportive actions, my heart goes out to you. It is simply one more thing we now have to heal from.