Almost all of my life Iíve considered our relationship to be rocky and uncomfortable. For much of it weíve fought tooth and nail. Iíve been participating in formal counseling and support groups and this has helped me to gain perspective. Iíd like to present to you my thoughts on our past. This will be hard to read but I feel I need to begin this process if we have any hope for healing in the future. This is my hope: for both of us the heal.
You robbed me of my emotional security and rejected me as my parent. You did this the day you instructed me to never tell my grandma about the violent abduction and sexual abuse I endured. This happened just a day after the whole horrific event took place, my head still spinning in chaos. You ordered this of me for your own highly selfish reasons, to protect yourself from accruing blame for the incident from your own mother. But in doing so you crushed any chance I had to cope or process my emotions within a supportive family. You turned my abuse into my shame. I felt like it was my fault, that I needed to bury it. I was again betrayed when on many occasions afterward I heard you on the telephone discussing the issue of my sexual abuse with unknown conversation partners. I was confused and embarrassed by your actions on the phone. I did not understand why you could discuss my abuse but I could not. You co-opted my pain and used it to gather sympathy from your friends. For years and years after, you further injured me with your constant berating. I remember you asked me in accusational tones Why didnít I have more friends, or want to play sports. I was a broken and confused child and instead of finding ways to help me, you found ways to blame me. You would scream and I would shut down in response and that made you scream louder. I was afraid every time I got in the backseat of your car because the screaming would begin anew. The doors would close, the engine would start up and youíd start into me. Perhaps you donít remember but I do. When I think of my mother from my pre-teen years I think of a woman constantly screaming at me for being me. This is what you did to me.
These actions helped turn an unfortunate incident that was relatively mild in term of sexual abuse cases into a festering wound that still has not healed. I tuned you out and I tuned my emotions out. These actions cause me not to trust. Not you. Not anyone. I have great difficulty letting anyone into my world because I feel so damaged by rejection. There were times in the past when amends were made by you but promises to change were short-lived. And because I donít trust you I can never believe what you say to me is lasting. You helped to keep me in my dysfunction, youíve kept me blaming myself, hating myself, shut down in my emotions because the pain of your rejection was too great to bare. I went numb for a while. I didnít love you or myself. You got cancer and at the time I truly didnít care. What a monster Iíd become! tried to shut down all of my feelings all of the time and when I couldnít I turned to drugs and alcohol. I am filled with anger about my life, about my failures, about you. I am filled with guilt and deeply saddened to write these things but this is my truth. This is how youíve effected my life.
I feel like Iíve been victimized twice. One case was a single instance by a sexual predator who abducted and molested me. The other case was long term emotional victimization at the hands of my mother. I feel like I was blamed for showing the symptoms of a disease no one treated. There were inept child psychologists along the way but their lack of results has always been abundantly apparent. You berated and rejected me, made me feel miserable for having these symptoms but you never helped the child resolve the underlying trauma. This is how I feel about what you did.
Now that I am a parent, too, I know how hard it is to do the right thing. Iíve done and said very regrettable things to Zoe in the heat of the moment. I know that youíve tried to do what you could with me, right or wrong. I do not believe that youíve ever had malicious intent. But at the same time youíve shown a disturbing lack of empathy for anyone else when they present barriers to you getting what you want. Iíll illustrate with a quick anecdote you may remember. Zoe and I visited you in Massachusetts when she was still quite young and just learning to ride a bike. Youíd organized a bike ride for us, gentle by adult standards. But rather terrifying for a small child who was still new to riding and completely in fear of riding around street traffic for her first time ever. Zoe was understandably hesitant, we tried to encourage her but she was too scared to go on. Weíd gave it a try, it was time to go back. The more she resisted moving forward, the more enraged and indignant you became. You insisted your will be obeyed, regardless of how the child felt. It was a monstrous display of cruelty to Zoe . I knew it was wrong. Iím still kicking myself for not standing up to you as you bullied her, bullied all of us into going along with your demands to continue forward. Sometimes when youíre wrapped up in your own needs -what you feel you deserve- you carelessly roll over the people youíre supposed to nurture and protect. Iím not saying this is premeditated or malicious. But it certainly isnít very mindful and your failure to recognize that youíre hurting people is distressing. You also do wonderful things, extremely considerate and caring things like driving all the way up to Figuroa on a moments notice to pick up my wife when she became ill. I am so thankful for those acts of kindness. Youíve saved my life at least once. Youíve done many selfless things that have helped me and my family but there were many deeply painful things that Iíve endured as well. This is how I feel about you.
What I want you to do is get help for your emotions. They are strong and they are often out of control. Last time I visited it pained me to hear you yell at Bob, who is a wonderful man, with such unchecked anger and frustration. Weíre all perplexed by your angry outbursts toward him. He is a gentle soul and you take personal offense at his quirks. Too often, Iíve seen you get very upset and yell at him in hostility. I believe your unchecked emotional responses are creating havoc with your family relationships. I know because I have these unwanted responses too. I am starting something called DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) to help get these strong feelings and under control. I would like for you to start some kind of similar therapy to help you become more mindful.
I hope that together we can heal and begin a normal mother/ son relationship. If not, it will always be rocky and uncomfortable between us and lifeís too short to go on like that.
With much love,
I've got a bike you can ride it if you like.
Its got a basket, a bell that rings
And many other things to make it look good.
I'd give it to you if I could -but I've borrowed it.