Letter To My Future Daughter: #1
This past week has been a difficult week for your mother. An ex-lover has been in touch. I gave up on him and he came crawling back in the worst way. His belly is not on the floor, full of remorse and regret. He does not want me back. In fact, according to an ex-friend, he is seeing somebody new. I do not want to care, but I have already drawn her out in my head. She is more defined than I am, but not more defiant. He loves her for it.
The ex-lover is in touch because he wants support. He wants a listening ear for when the days get dark and he cannot remember where the light-switch is. I wish I had told him where to go. I want you to do this to your ex-lovers, daughter, if they leave you in the middle of the night and refuse to see you in the light of day. I have been calling and texting and messaging this boy for seven months. He has been an ever-present absence, the aftertaste of what was once a tall drink of water but is now a pint downed in a drinking game. His voicemail has become the cheek proffered whenever I went in for a kiss. Letters were ignored. I asked for closure and got radio silence, the air so dead I did not know how to grieve it.
I asked him for an explanation. Was his carrier pigeon ill? I was told that explanations and apologies were offered all the time, that I had just not been willing to see them. I like to imagine these apologies were left for me on every street corner I have ever walked thinking of his leaving. I like to imagine that I was not looking hard enough. I know this is not true. It is exhausting looking everywhere for something. It is heartbreaking to realise it does not exist to be found.
Daughter, I hope I have raised you to be less forgiving. I hope I have raised you to turn to me now and ask why I did not ignore him the way he ignored me. I hope I have not raised you to try and serve your heart up on a plate to somebody who finds your offering distasteful. I hope you will love people who will wear their heart on the sleeve they wrap around you. I hope you will not be left, but I hope that if you are, that they will treat you right in leaving.
I could tell you that I am giving him the time of day because I am afraid for him. That I am worried that if I am not there for him, nobody will be. I could tell you that I worry his dark thoughts could end in death, that his breathing is the only consistency I have ever seen in him. I could tell you that I have an endless capacity for forgiveness. I could tell you that my heart is so huge that it outweighs bitterness and pride, revenge and game-playing. But I must tell you that I stay because I do not love myself enough to heal. It took me months to stitch up the wounds he left, and now I am staring at my insides again. I stay because I am accepting the love I think I deserve. I stay because my mother will never leave my father. I stay because I have learnt what it is like to be slapped in the face by the hand that once cupped it. I stay because I left my self respect in the same place that my mother did, and returned – like her – to find that it was gone.