When Your Mother Abandons You

Walk Your Own Path

I feel abandoned by my mother, because I know she doesn’t want to believe my dad could be capable of sexually abusing me. She sends emails that start with what I see as a courtesy disclaimer, “It’s not that I don’t believe you, but…” and then tells me all the reasons why she thinks I could be mistaken. It tears my heart out, but I try to be understanding. She has been going through a lot since I broke the silence and told her about the memories I’ve begun to recover, and admittedly she’s in the most difficult position of all.

The little child part of me wants nothing more than for my mother to believe that what I’m telling her is true and choose me over my perpetrator. It doesn’t look likely though, so I tell myself that’s just a childish dream that she could ever choose one family member over another, that she’s built a life with this person, that it’s selfish of me to put expectations on her. But it’s like a knife to the heart. I actually find it hard to value my own life if she doesn’t believe me, and thinking about it too much is the one thing that can send me back into that dark suicidal place I was a few months back. In that place I feel half dead, have rotted, half decomposed, and yet I haven’t taken my life. I am still walking around trying to find a way out that doesn’t depend on her or what she does. Just to feel alive again.

I know on an intellectual level that I can choose whatever experience of this that I want. But that little girl is convinced, “If my own mother won’t believe me, won’t choose me, who would?” She takes it to mean she is worthless, that others’ words to the contrary are meaningless gestures of etiquette, rather than heartfelt truths. The whole world becomes cold and fake to her. This is no way to live.

Accepting that my mother has the right to deal with this situation however she wants has been the most difficult emotional challenge I’ve ever had. The truth is her words and actions have no meaning except the meaning I choose to give to them, so the impact on my self worth comes from my beliefs rather than from her. The clincher is that I know this intellectually, but it still feels like abandonment. It still feels like I have been ousted from the tribe, left to fend for myself, like death is after me, already eating through my flesh.

My only choice is to wholeheartedly accept that only I can give my life whatever meaning I choose, and that yes, expectations and wishes for my mother to do this or that are in fact, just childish dreams, based on the false belief that my self worth comes from her. In truth it never has, and it never will. How much longer am I willing to spend trying to barter for these childish dreams? That I don’t know, but I hope it’s not long. There’s a big beautiful world out there waiting for me.

~ “It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering.” – Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery

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I Fear I’ve Killed My Father

"I Fear I've Killed My Father"

Have I got anything left to say to you, father? I’ve had so much to say during my life and yet I only spoke most of it aloud to myself in those long nights of sobbing alone and wondering if it was possible to cry out all the tears I have for you. I’ve cried so many tears, and yet tonight there are just as many as there has been before. So what is it I haven’t said?

That I love you.

It’s why it hurts me so much, you see. Because you’re my father and I’ve wanted to believe this whole time that you actually gave a shit about me. I made myself the bad one so you could be good in my eyes. I made myself the reason you were so sick and unhappy. I thought I could influence your life and save you from yourself. And now I fear I could influence your death too. If my mother leaves you, I fear you’ll surely die. And who then will pick up your corpse and honour it? What will become of you?

It took me so many years to finally face this pain you inflicted on me because I thought you were too weak and fragile – and if you die it will show me I was right. All I ever wanted was for you to be happy and love yourself. I can see that was unrealistic. But my heart is breaking for you, for us, for what we could have had if you were capable of making better decisions.

But those years are gone and I’m no longer that child who trusted you. I’m now a weary-eyed woman trying to pick up the pieces of my shattered illusions. You used me like a toy doll for your own amusement. You eyed me up and down and made comments about my body and my breasts and told me I look just like my mother. You never protected me from your creepy friends, but instead you joined in when they harassed me. You took advantage of my trust in you and made my existence a dead plastic servant of your whims. And I still loved you because you were my dad.

Maybe my pain is not for you, but is for a broken dream that there still exists some salvation for us. That somehow I might still learn how much you really love me. But I see now you don’t understand love. Maybe you were never loved in your whole life except by your innocent children who you took advantage of, who you abused in every way possible.

But my heart still breaks for this sad demise of our family. No matter how fucked up things got you are still my family, but you put me in a position where I either have to choose my family or myself, because it seems I can’t have both. I’ve wanted nothing more than for my mother to choose me over you, but if she does, I fear you’ll die. Who will honour your small decrepit corpse if she leaves you? It’s like your tricky revenge on me for “ruining your life” as you put it. You would have rather I suffered until the end of my days too so that you could go on living in denial. I never wanted to ruin anyone’s life, I just wanted what anyone wants, to be loved and be happy.

I wanted you to love me, and if you die, so dies my dream for that love. It’s always just been an illusion anyway. I know that. And I accept that you did the best you could, as horrible as it was. I’m so sorry you spent your whole life running from yourself. I miss those moments as a small child when I had no concept yet that you were capable of such awful things. My daddy, just my wonderful daddy who loves me.