It's my second Mother's Day without you. As my daughter grows, I keep wondering what if?
Before you start hoping, I will not let my daughter around dad. Never.
I do not want her to think it is okay to belittle people, to put them down verbally. I do not want her to think that it's okay to experience gaslighting, or insulting "jokes" that are funny only to him, like about how expensive her mama is. She does not deserve to be abused, or to witness abuse.
It's taken me eight years, but I don't panic at the thought of my dad now. Do you realize what he has done to us all?
What if you realized that? What if you realized you enabled his abuses?
I'm not sure it will ever happen, because such realizations are extremely painful, but sometimes I imagine.
I just realized that my daughter is the oldest daughter of an oldest daughter of an oldest daughter.
We'd be a trio of oldest daughters at the craft store, coming up with ideas. She's got our artsy genes. You're so careful with yours, and I've always been messy with mine. You should see her paintings--bold, full of color, vividly abstract. I mean, it is to be expected of a toddler, but still... it is amazing. I can't wait to see how her style develops.
What if you stood up to him, even a little bit more? It would have provided a little more inoculation against his abuses, taught me and my siblings more resiliency. Instead, that task fell to me, and I fear I woefully fell short in trying to help my siblings before I was disowned.
Maybe I might not have been disowned if you stood up to him. Maybe you could have said, "That's terrible. Don't do that," to him when he started ranting about how ungrateful I was and how I was abandoning the family and how I need to be taught a lesson by being cut off. Maybe you could have told him "Stop" when he was typing out a long, terrible email disowning me. Maybe when I called in tears after that letter you would have answered the phone instead of making my brother tell lies that you were already asleep and couldn't talk.
God. How can a mother abandon her child?
I mean, I do understand the complex psychology behind being enmeshed and how the abuse cycle continues (which is why I try so hard to be conscious of these things so I can break the pattern.) But still, I wonder.
Sometimes I daydream that maybe the tiny little spark of fierce motherly love with the power to lift cars would have been set aflame by such horror of losing me, that maybe you could have stood up for me.
It wasn't until I became a mother that I realized how incomprehensible it was that you let him disown me.
Until then, I always thought of you as someone who needed protecting. I'd tell white lies for you all the time to keep dad from getting angry. I always told myself that because of the psychology of your childhood abuse, it was nigh impossible for you to really have a backbone.
Nope. Anyone who tries to hurt her, my God, I will move mountains if needed.
What if we tried reconciling? I obviously can't see that happening until you can grow stronger against dad, and can separate yourself from him. You and I could talk without me having to interact with him. It would be awkward, but entirely possible if you were willing and able.
Though honestly I don't think you ever will be willing and able to do that.
That's why I've worked hard to ensure that my daughter has other family to take care of her, many of whom you've also disowned. She has other grandmas who love her and dote on her from afar. She has aunts and uncles and cousins, many of whom are related only by love--our hearts full of love. Including several very creative aunties who encourage her craftiness in your absence. In my siblings' absence.
Please imagine that.
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