good riddence to a shit mom

Subject: good riddence to a shit mom
From: someone you never saw
Date: 10 Feb 2024

Dear mama,

I felt the urge to address this to “mom” as that was what I would have naturally called you if it had been left up to me.
I am all for you defining yourself,
but forcing others to go along with it was just their part of your façade.
You may not have known that – it’s still with me though –
more so because you insisted that your grandchild call you mummo – which is ridiculous.
It still sounds wrong and is uncomfortable to say.
Perhaps it is perfectly you then.

You are still in my way.
52 years after my birth and 10 years after your death.
Everything I do is filtered through your poison.
I take you everywhere with me and you always manage to make things worse.
I find myself today unable to do much of anything.
I feel institutionalized by your ever-present judgements.
I can’t seem to make any decisions for fear that I will be criticized.
Or that whatever it is will never last because I won’t deserve it because I’m wrong.
I still feel as if decisions are just not mine to make.
I get confused about what to do
and anticipate humiliation when something doesn’t work out.

I only needed your support and encouragement,
but instead I got your weird, unreasonable expectations and emptiness.
Your emotional neglect. Your disapproval.
When I was a child I needed your reflection so I could see the good parts of me,
but you only reflected ugly, shameful incompetence at me.
When I was 40, you didn’t want to go to my graduation when I achieved the B.A. degree. You said you’d wait for the next one. You were dead before the next one. You’ll be even deader for the last one.
I parentify anyone who helps me – especially teachers.
I low-key let them down just to find out what the punishment will be.
Then I pull out some brilliant work, discount their approval,
deny my abilities, and disengage with the work I want to be doing.
How you managed to make achievement a trauma is… just… wow.

After papa died, I asked when he was coming back (because I was five and didn’t understand).
You cried.
When I asked you why you were crying you said “because I’m so happy.”
It was a lie – from the person who said lying is dangerous and wrong and means you don’t care.
I remember being shocked.
Perhaps I could have trusted you again, but instead I found lie after lie until I was numb to them and could only go along – no other choice.
For the life of me I can’t understand why I wasn’t taken to his ashes scattering.
Is it because it was all about you?
I didn’t deserve to understand?
I failed to keep him around for you?
I was such a drag on you?
Because fuck me?
I was five.

I was six.
I cried every night because he was not there.
Then I cried every night because he might not come back.
Then I cried every night because he wasn’t coming back to save me.
Then I cried every night because he wasn’t coming back because of me.
Then I cried every night because you said you could die in your sleep.
Then I cried every night because you wanted to.
Then I cried every night because I wanted to.
Then I cried every night because I was left alone
Then I cried every night because I was all alone.
Then I cried every night because I had always been and would always be alone.
Then i cried every night because I deserved to be alone.
The crying didn’t stop until I was 24.
Then I only cried out of fear.
I could cry now if I wasn’t so lost.
I’m tired

You were so disappointing.
Adults like to talk as if they know something.
They could just admit that knowledge is lost, and then try to find it again
but instead they get scared and become bullshit artists.
Lying to kids who don’t understand.
Kids just have to lump it.
Fuck that.

For my whole life I have felt like everyone lies to me – nobody is to be trusted.
You have filled me with
and the inability to believe in myself or my own experience.
I have compromised my truth away.
Bit by bit.
Just to get through.

Now that D & M (the closest people who cared about me – which is why you didn’t like them) have died, it is so obvious that I am debilitated – nobody is here to make decisions about things. It is left up to me, and I am emotionally incapable of meeting the challenge.
This is why I’m doing the hard work now.

Why did you deny me my autonomy?????
Why did I think I was intellectually disabled, and you just wouldn’t let anyone tell me?
How much power did you really need?
And why was I the only source of that power for you?
And how did you even dare to use me like that?
Had you ever regarded my humanity at all even for a second????
Have you no decency!?!
And then, you took every opportunity to call me CRUEL.
Aaaah! The unmitigated audacity is too much to bear!
It turns my fucking stomach –
which, by the way, is where all that shame that you heaped on me is kept.
I’m cruel?
Fuck you.

I couldn’t even believe how different it was for my friends – the ones you let me have, then talked shit about when they weren’t there. I thought their family love and caring was just an act for my sake – just like it was at our house. I thought it was all a sheen of perfection with putrid rot under the surface – just like at our house. I thought that, like me, other kids could only toe the line.
It wasn’t like that for them.
So, thanks for that.

You never saw me.
It never mattered to you who I was.
I was just a player on your stage, and you fed me my lines.
This is a pattern that has played out in my life.
You insisted I was gay. Wrong.
My ex-husband you didn’t get along with (because he was just like you) who used me. Wrong.
My ex-partner who loved me, used me, and always needed me to lend him legitimacy. Wrong.
I’m done with it. Right.
I’m married to myself now. Epic.
I'm finding out about me.

Serious question.
How is it that a child could have been so ignored by you that she was molested by all the men you let come around, friends and family as well, and you never even noticed or wondered?
How is it that since the age of five it took me two hours to fall asleep at night and most of it was spent crying, but you never knew?
Nothing struck you as wrong?
The exhaustion?
The lack of interest?
The silence?
The truancy?
The suicide attempt?
How is it that I heard you tell that one ugly fuck to leave me alone, but you didn’t make him stop, and you later denied knowing about it?
How does one square that circular shitstorm?

I was joking with a friend a while ago and I said that you would have tried to return me as defective when I was a kid –
“this one has a squinky eye and she hit her stupid head and I don’t want her anymore. I want my money back. Or can I trade her for a car?”
That was a pretty funny joke until the truth of it landed.

You abandoned me over and over and over again, in every actual way.
When I was 10 or so and you dropped me off with that really nice family and my aunt and uncle had to drive 500 miles to come pick me up from total strangers.
By then I had really, really started hoping that you wouldn’t come back for me.
D & M took good care of me.
They considered me.
They talked to me.
They acknowledged me.
I was scared of it and didn’t know how to react.
I don’t know if it was already too late for me to accept it.
I know I was disappointed when they drove me back to you.
You said I was a burden on them.
My uncle later said they considered filing to get custody of me.
I said you might have just given me to them if that wouldn’t have made you look like you failed.
Nothing worse than mediocrity, right?

I recognize your trauma because I am having to resolve all of it myself.
You did NONE of the work.
Even when you pretended to want to, you refused.
It’s fine. It was too late for me anyway.
It’s too bad, like you said, that you weren’t rich enough to join scientology so they could just brainwash you to ignore it.
Here’s a fucking clue – it wouldn’t have worked.
You would have been an even bigger asshole for ignoring all the pain you caused me.
But you call me cruel. Gah!

I’m doing the actual work. I have been for a long time.
I am no longer willing to let you have a say in anything.
I don’t care how “special” anything is to you.
It is all going.
Your beautiful dishes.
The beautiful rugs.
All the pretty things that were supposed to cover for the festering ugliness.
Into the fire.
Your pain is no longer mine.
I have enough of my own, thank you very much.
I am doing the work for all of us.

I am a good mom despite your bullshit.
I have raised a strong, well-adjusted child who doesn’t take shit from people because she knows it is not her duty or her problem.
I have managed to raise a child without convincing her that she would be lucky to find a husband to put up with her so she should take whoever would have her.
I managed to raise a fully autonomous person who talks to me, who loves me,
whom I have never called “slut,”
never hit,
never demeaned to make myself feel better,
never cut up her things,
never ridiculed,
never berated,
never ignored,
never abandoned,
and never insisted that she should act like anything but herself.
There is more…

Your behavior was outrageous.
How could you?
Why wasn’t I worth your actual effort?
If papa hadn’t died was he supposed to raise me despite you?
You couldn’t figure out your own worth so I was your scapegoat?
What is supremely fucked up is that you thought I either didn’t hear or understand what you would say about me to people.
Jesus. The gall.
You have made life unenjoyable.
Were I less numb to everything, I couldn’t bear it.
I found out that when I attempted suicide and you sent me off to family for a year, they weren’t even told what had happened.
Nor was any of the family.
I just showed up and had to act like I wasn’t suffering, broken, lost.
I was 12.
That is utterly, insanely, and absolutely fucked.

You humiliated me in front of our visiting family when my menses started.
You were angry – actually angry – at me the whole time they were with us.
It was the summer Olympics, 1984.
I felt hated by you.
No. I didn’t just feel hated by you – you made it perfectly clear.
Your sister knew it – she scolded you for treating me badly. You just laughed.
My whole life you held me responsible for knowing how to take care of myself, but never took even a second of your precious time to teach me how to.
But I never could get it right – you would let me know.
That’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Fuck you and your anger – it wasn’t my fault.

The only actual care you took of me was feeding me and paying some of my bills.
I always hoped you would stop so I would have to figure it out on my own. But it was the only way you showed caring, and I was too scared of everything to not depend on it. That must have been the perfect scenario for you.
Rest assured, you always held food and money against me.
You would pull me in close, pretend to be loving, and then just hold me and sting me over and over again - like a scorpion.
What was actually supposed to come of this overarching scheme you had?
What was your big plan?
I was supposed to be a concert pianist that you could live off of?
I cannot even get a grip on the trajectory you imagined this relationship was on.

You said out loud to me when I was very small that if I am not the best at something,
I shouldn’t do it
because there is nothing worse than mediocrity.
Meanwhile, what was your big contribution?
Perhaps you were the most world-renowned alcoholic receptionist that has ever been.
Perhaps you hid all of your awards.
It kills me because you actually were highly intelligent, artistic, and witty.
You could have contributed your abilities toward something.
Again – I was on the whipping post for all the potential you couldn’t reach.
I’m glad I was a threat to your awesomeness.
Thanks a whole fuck of a lot.
I mean, you were pretty fucking great at ignoring me and inviting trauma upon me, so,

You gaslit me all the time.
You pretended to die on the floor and then minimized my fear. I was five.
You were so absent that I felt alone when you were there.
Then I learned to be absent when I was anywhere.
Never to be seen or heard.
It made some people nervous – other people sad.
Predators loved it.
I took the blame from you.
I learned to take the blame from others and then for others.
I insisted.
“You can just blame it on me.”
Then I wasn’t invited back.
Or I was invited at my own peril – never allowed to say “no.”

I hurt.
I needed help.
I needed love.
I wouldn’t have recognized it.
You ridiculed me for being fat when my daughter was two months old.
You ridiculed me for being fat always.
Except for that one time
when I was stressed and underweight and my hair was falling out and I was pallid and sick.
Then you said – don’t lose anymore – you’re the perfect weight.
I feel ugly because you made me think I’m ugly.
The couple of times that you said I looked beautiful… you were looking at my clothes.
When I look at myself now in the mirror and tell myself that I am beautiful, I go numb.
When I was 30 and I told you that I had been molested,
you responded by telling me that you had been bulimic until you turned 50.
Crazy how I never felt seen or heard.
Shut up and be perfect. Am I right?

My anger is intolerable. Yes?
My confusion is stupid. Yes?
My needs are unreasonable. Yes?
My wants are contemptible. Yes?
You fucking lucked out to have a kid like me.
You wore expensive clothes and looked perfect.
I got goodwill dresses - I always hated dresses.
Why would that matter.
I was dressed like a shitty doll.
Waiting to be victimized.
I was the bait on your hook.
Gah! The effrontery!
And I’m the cruel one.

It was so much better for you that I was damaged goods.
You could be the victim-of-circumstance-mom barbie.
You didn’t take me to the doctor when I needed to go.
I bled into my diaper. No doctor.
My eyelid was split open – dogs teeth marks on my eyebrow. No doctor.
My dislocated shoulder. No doctor.
What was your hope, exactly?
More shame for me.
Court ordered family therapy where you could deny my feelings and be right.
Good on you. You won.

No safe place for my anger, so I just swallow it.
Where were you? Ah, yes. You’re living rent free in my fucking head.
Not free for me.
You still exact your inhumane toll.
I can’t imagine how many times you wished I would die.
Then you’d be the real victim.
My failed suicide must have been disappointing.

If you couldn’t fucking be there then why didn’t you let go??
Instead, you laughed at your ability to torture.
You were delighted when I squirmed.

I am the result of your work.
All this anger, resentment, sorrow, fear, grief, exhaustion, need, hollowness.
This is your brilliant, best effort.
Because – mediocrity.

It looks perfect, but it’s snot.

You said I shouldn’t outshine anyone.
You said I shouldn’t be proud of myself because it would make someone else feel sad.
You said that you and your sister weren’t as close as you and I. I thought you were joking and almost laughed out loud. It took me a while to get through the confusion. Then I felt sad for you. I still don’t know if you were kidding.
You said Mrs. Robyn thought I was wasting her time. Mrs. Robyn felt sorry for me and always asked if I was okay. Mrs. Robyn saw me. An emotionally neglected, numb, scared child.

I should not have suggested that you come live with us when I was a single mother in my 30s.
You felt entitled to spew your poison everywhere and blame us.
…Come whining to me when your granddaughter doesn’t want you around.
Blame me for that.
Fuck you.
She was six and she knew better than you.
Because I’m a good mom.
Fuck you and your spider bite that you blamed for your seriously awful behavior.
Like that was the problem.
I shouldn’t have lived with you and let you retraumatize me with your gaslighting horseshit and your judgements and your constant, impossible demands for attention.

And you’re still taking more than you’ve ever given.
10 years after death.
You keep taking and taking.
Specifically, from me.
From my mental and physical wellbeing.
Your good work still lives on.

The deal is that this is my goodbye letter to you and your toxicity.
I’m sorry for all the circumstances that made you the way you were, I know they were hard,
but I’m not taking the blame for it anymore.
On your dying day you said you were sorry for being so domineering when I was little.
That doesn’t even hit bottom.
It’s not nearly enough.
It felt like your big Hollywood moment.
Your final scene.
It did nothing for me – just the same old same old.
Your shit – you couldn’t talk about it – your deal.
You had no right to make me live it,
and you have no right to continue.
Not in my life.
Not in my head.
Not gaslighting me.
Not denying my reality.
Not affecting my happiness or functioning.
I have plenty of life ahead of me and I’m going to make of it whatever I want.
Not going to run it by you.
I will never need your approval or anyone else’s.
I’m going to arrange my things the way I want without considering your opinion on the matter.
I’m going to get my PhD knowing that it is what I want, and it is only mine.
I’m going to love my daughter.
I’m going to love myself.
I’m going to breathe in fresh air and feel my own body alive.
I’m going to waste money when I need to treat myself.
I’m going to feel everything.
I’m taking it all back.
All of me.

Hopefully, someone is still around to remember you differently than I do,
and you can live on for a little while as something other than what I have known.
I know you tried a little bit here and there.
I know you wouldn’t have wished it to be like it was.
Overall, would not recommend.
I liked your sense of humor when you weren’t being mean.
Thank you for playing good music.
Thank you for making Christmas nice.
Thank you for sending me to Finland.
Thank you for leaving.