A Letter To His Mother
Sometimes I imagine how things would have been if you didn’t have it out for me since the beginning. I imagine I would be texting you right now, sharing a smile as you trade memories of your late ex-husband and I tell you how proud I was of your son who has accomplished so much on his own. Though granted, if things were different, I stop to wonder if he would even be on his own.
But through this false narrative, I live vicariously. Because a relationship with you is all I wanted in a desperate hope that you and your home, your heart, could become my escape when my own mother spit her harsh words of nonsense at me. But instead, I find myself holding your son in my arms as he shakes from your abuse and feel the sting in your words as you call me the harshest names you can think of. Instead, I read back over our texts and wonder just when your perception of me began to slip. Was it when I saved your child? When I accepted him for who he was? Or was it because I showed him a life worth living, something you yourself could never provide for him?
You know, sometimes I wonder if there’s a piece of you that does like me, that does appreciate the life I provided for your child. Sometimes I wonder if once the walls of your house were emptied from his cries you let yourself feel the reality of it all. I wonder if you wept, if you threw things, or did you celebrate? What emotions captivated the woman that was so filled with hatred for her child that she couldn’t let him find happiness within his own skin? That thought hitting him would somehow be able to rewire his brain to fit your own needs? I wonder if maybe you sat on those empty stairs, or in his empty room, and silently thanked me for all that I had taken him from. I wonder if you saw me that day at the hospital and sent me a smile that spoke a thousand words because I did something you could never do. I protected him. I gave him a life filled with love, not with fear.
But if you ever do wonder what became of your child, I wish I didn’t have to be the one to say. I wish you would ask him, because it all falls on me now. And he resents me for it. He resents the warmth he feels from my words of praise and love as he tells me the new opportunities he received at his job. He resents the way my heartbeat slows his breathing. He resents the way I love him, because why is it so simple for a 19 year old girl to show him all the love he never received, but it isn’t possible for his own mother to even muster up an I’m proud of you.
You make my life a living hell even though you’re not around anymore. And he hates me when I spit venom on your name, but you would do the same if you were me, I promise you you would. He sees you in me. Every action, every word is met with absolute caution as it’s so easy for him to slip. My hazel eyes suddenly turn green, blue. Whatever color your bastardly eyes were that he saw right before you would hurt him. And I hate that he still loves you. I hate the things you continue to do to him even though you aren’t around. Every woman he falls for the attention of, every feeling of worthlessness he feels down to the bone, every mood swing of wanting to leave me just because I love him all connects back to the shitty way YOU made him feel. And I hate you for it. I resent you with every bone in my body, but I cannot hate you. How can I hate the woman that gave him life? How can I hate the woman that passed this boy right into my arms, where he belonged?
I had always felt like a piece of me was missing. But then one day your son slipped into my arms and since then the world has made sense. And maybe he was never fully mine. He was stolen away from those before me, and once I had him in my grasp he still continued to slip. Maybe he was never made to be anyone’s. But I will never hate you for providing me with a chance to love him, no matter how short of a time I may possess with him, your son has provided me with the comfort of knowing myself, of believing in myself, and maybe I’m not perfect, just as you always loved to tell me. Maybe I am that pathetic victim that no one will ever come to love. Maybe I am just as crazy as you warned him that I am. But your son has provided me with a love I never believed in. Your son has given me a home that I cannot receive from anyone else. Your son has seen that monster inside of me that you so desperately feared and he loved me for it. This pathetic victim has your son head-over-heels. And I bet you still continue to wonder why after all I did and all I had that was wrong with me he continues to love me. And it’s you as well as I.
But you gave him life. And I cannot hate you for that. But just because you gave him his breath of life doesn’t mean you are his mother. Because how can a mother treat her son the way you did? How can a mother hurt an innocent child that wanted nothing more than the comfort of her embrace, the praise of her words. Sometimes I wonder how you refuse to be proud of him with all that he has done. Your child is smart, your child is rushing up to the top when it comes to his work like he’s in an endless race that he so desperately wants to win. And maybe he’s subconsciously doing it for you with the hopes that one day you’ll be able to utter the words I’m proud of you. And for that I can hate you for. Because I wish you would give him what he has always deserved since the moment he began school, from the moment he was a child. Maybe then I could love him as much as I wanted to without the fear that he is so unused to receiving any form of affection that he will run from it.
I wish things were different. I wish I wasn’t writing you this letter you will never read, I wish I wasn’t cursing your name under my breath every time a woman showed him attention that he fell for. No, I wish I was sitting across from you celebrating the college I was going to. I wish you were someone I could have told. I wish I was calling you once a week just to ask how you’re doing. I wish I didn’t have to pass your empty house and wonder where you were–because you would have told me. I wish I could have you as an outlet when your son is treating me like I’m dirt under his shoe. I crave those moments of intimacy with you. For you to hold me in your arms while scolding your son for not realizing how amazing I am. For you to be my best friend, for you to be there while I choose the dress I’ll make your son cry with at our wedding, for you to be there while I hand you your first grandchild, for you to be there when I graduate and for you to be proud that I am the woman that is marrying your son. But instead I receive an empty ghost of you. The distant passing of what could have been if you had loved your son.
I sometimes hate to remember the smile you gave me while I was helping your child with homework as that one moment of validation from you made me begin to understand why your child can’t hate you. That moment made me feel a sense of pride that you, the woman who will one day be my mother-in-law, loved me, liked me, was proud of me, grateful for me, anything other than what I had known before, which was the woman who hated my very existence.
I shouldn’t have to hold your son while he cries. I shouldn’t have to teach him what love is, and how love heals. I shouldn’t have to help him navigate between what is good and what is bad. I shouldn’t have to be the one he seeks validation from. You are. You should have been the one who taught him what good, healthy love was. You should have been the one who was there when he started his job. You should have been the one who taught him about things that fuck up his life. But instead he does those things because you fucked up his life. You gave him a life that he deemed not worthy of living and now I worry every day that one day I will lose the love of my life just because his own mother couldn’t show him the love that she was capable of. And I hate that I will never be enough for you. I hate that I will never be enough for him because of you.
You have ruined a child who wanted nothing more than love. And I am trying desperately to fix the shattered pieces that you left behind, but you left a hole that no one can fill but you. You should be the protective one over him, shielding him from any harm that may come his way but instead I am the one standing in front of him like a shield that refuses to crack. I am the one who is protecting him from his own fucking mother and you will never be able to understand how fucked up that is. He may forgive you, but I never will. I will never forgive you for the way you treated him and for the lack of relationship we now possess. You are supposed to be at my wedding, you were supposed to be at my high school graduation, but instead there was an empty seat. An empty seat that reminded me of our lost relationship. With you, with him. A constant reminder before I walked the stage that no matter what I had accomplished, you were uncertain, you were uncaring, and you still believed I was unworthy of any and all good things.
I regret certain ways I treated you, but I was a child. A child who was desperately in love with a boy who had you as a mother. Forgive me for being angry at you, but my love for your child is passionate and strong and I wish you, as well as him, could see that. I wish you could see that I would do damn near anything as long as it meant that he could be mine. I would do anything to protect that boy, even if it meant from you. And I never thought I would have to protect him from his own mother. But how can I like you or want you around him anymore when you showed him and me time and time again that you are selfish. He didn’t deserve any of that and I will hold you at a 30 foot pole distance if it means that your child finally gets to be happy. It was your job to make him happy, but now I guess it’s mine. And I hope I never make him feel the way you did. I will be spending the rest of my life cleaning up the wreckage you left inside of your child’s heart. And I desperately pray that whenever I do have kids I will never be anything like you.
You may have given birth to your child, but I see now that I am the one who gave him life. He is living in spite of you. You tried so desperately to tear him down, and I’ll be damned if I ever let him feel that way again.
Maybe one day you and I can remember the way we used to treat each other with a laugh. Maybe one day you’ll like me. Maybe one day you’ll accept us both. But for now I can only hope that your child can achieve happiness in spite of you. I hope one day you can see what an amazing relationship you lost. Because your son is an amazing guy.
And I feel sorry that you are refusing to watch him grow up.
Maybe one day I can tell you how proud I am of him.
And maybe, just maybe, one day you will agree with me.
But for now, I will forever be grieving the ghost of our lost relationship.