I wish you could see what everybody else sees. I wish you could see what I see, and feel what I feel. Because I want you understand me as well as I understand you. I know exactly what you’re going through, because that’s what I learn about in school. It’s textbook. I know all about the brain; its chemicals and hormones. I know about mental illness and I know about addiction. And that they're not a choice. I do understand that. But you don't understand how many times I’ve had to clean up after you. You don’t understand how many mornings I woke up hoping that maybe tonight would be different, but it wasn’t. You don’t understand why I don’t ever have friends over, or how many times I’ve been asked why I’m upset, and not known how to form an answer. You don’t understand how difficult it is for me to even fall asleep under the same roof as you. I don’t mean any of this in spite of you, I don't mean for any of it to hurt you, and I also don’t want to make things harder on you. And I think that’s what’s taken me so long to speak to you, because I want to protect you from hearing the honest truth from me. Because I know you've gone through a lot, I get that, or at least I try to. But I wish you could acknowledge that I’ve been through a lot too. I took the blame for you so many times. And a daughter should not ever have to deal with that. When there was any conflict in the family, I was always told that it’s my fault. It was because I was sick, or I was misbehaving, or I was impossible to deal with. And in all the conversations I’ve had about being upset or broken, whether it have been with a therapist or a friend, I could never get myself to blame you. I never threw you under the bus. I never told one counselor that I was sad because my mother is an unstable addict. I stepped up to the plate. I was the one that put work into making things better, I was the one that got the help that I didn’t even need. So, I hate to say this but, though it took me years to get the words out of my mouth; I blame you. I get that you're sick, that’s hard to deal with, but any decent person would have gotten help and put in the work before it was too late.
A daughter needs her mother. But you were absent. You are mean, yelling that I can go live somewhere else or make me feel bad for being upset with you. I can’t come to you about anything like other girls can because there’s no telling how you’re going to react. I don’t know what will set you off, nobody does. It wasn’t until I went to school that I got a little bit of peace. I don’t miss home. Because of you, I’m actually terrified every time I have to go. And hearing the other girls talk about how much they miss home and their parents makes me really jealous. I wish that I missed home that much. That I had a normal house to come back to and not have to fear what life is going to be like when I got there.
You are not a victim. I know that because I’ve seem people that are victims of addiction or mental illness. Victims care enough about their daughters that they work on it and get the help that they need. That was never you. All you ever did was blame other people for anything that was going wrong in your life. And again, I wish you could see what I see. I wish you could see the mistakes that you've made. Because if you did, you’d spend every waking moment fighting and trying to fix them. Sadly, you didn’t even have the decency to apologize.
I’ve been trying to find another way to deliver this to you for so long, and I know you want an answer or an explanation. The truth is, parenting is an imperfect art for anyone. Consequently, despite ones best efforts and even better intentions, cries for a parental or childhood “do-over’ are not uncommon. But, whether you relate to the mother in this letter or the daughter, “doing over” is not the answer. “Doing now” is. For mom, “doing now” means mustering the courage to take a step back and consider if the choices she's making to soothe her own hurts and needs are teaching her children how an adult deals with life. And I’m sorry that this probably isn’t what you want to hear but:
It is too late for you and me. Nothing is going to change, and at this point it’s because I wont let it. I wonder if you ever paused to consider the messages you were sending and the pain you were inflicting as you shuffled me out the door before you meet up with your neighborhood drinking buddy. Because, intended or not, the messages were clear; the drink is more important than your family. I wonder if you knew how many times I fantasized about you turning around, blasting through my door to say “I want to know how you're doing, about the girl who got away, about your fears. I want to listen to your heart and your poetry. And to learn what brings you joy and makes you sad. Today, instead of pushing you into the door, I want to go and watch you play volleyball, and find out what I can do to support you. Today, instead of spending the afternoon in a haze, I want to do what you want to do. Maybe we can see a movie or get pizza and ice cream. Maybe even go bowling. Or simply talk about whatever’s on your mind.”
The weird thing is, it’s not your face that I see in that picture. It’s always someone else. Because too much has been messed up by you that at this point, I don’t want things to get better. Even if you did change, I wouldn’t be able to forgive you. Because it will never be you in that picture.
I know, of course, that alcoholism is much more complicated than that—that what may have started out as a choice borne of you own became a disease that would require hard work to overcome. But, I also know that you had to be the one to take the first step, to decide that there was someone or something in your life more important to you than the next drink. You could have done the work Mom- used the courage and the toughness it took to survive all those wounds to embrace and rise above the scars they left behind. You could've run towards, rather than away from, the voids in your world and filled them with so many other things. And in the process, set an example for me—taught me that brokenness is only the beginning, the cocoon in which beauty resides and, if we will allow it, from which it ultimately emerges. But, instead, you made your daughter take the fall.
I still wonder why you never took that step, why you never even admitted that you are the problem. I gave you every chance to at least do that, right up to your last breath, and all you did was leave me wondering; Why couldn't you see that I was important enough. Why wasn't I important enough? A mom should be an example, someone that their daughter strives to be. But I knew that there was an issue when I figured out that I’m spending every day of my life trying to become the exact opposite of what you are.
This isn’t a letter to explain to you what you need to do to fix things, because things cannot be fixed.
You have a warped sense of reality. I have never met someone as delusional as you; it’s quite impressive, actually. You have the ability to make yourself the victim or the Saint in any situation. I have never had to worry about defending my character because honestly that’s the only thing you ever did teach me. You constantly dragged my name through the mud. I actually felt sick going to your friends houses because I could only imagine the things you'd said I had done. And I hope they realize that I’m not actually a bad kid. For years I stood around as you berated me. I let you make me out to be a monster. I let you tell me how much more you loved your friends kids and even destroy some of my friendships because of it.
I don’t know how, after all you've put me through, it’s a mystery to you why I finally cut you off. I had enough and I didn’t need your toxicity in my life. I don’t think you know how many times people say, “yeah, but it’s still your mom.” But I’ve learned to let that go. So no, I do not want to sit down and talk. You do not deserve my forgiveness nor do I think you'll ever change enough to be forgiven. I’ve grown up, and you only made that harder for me. You were continuously a problem in my past and I will not be stupid enough to let you be one in my future too.
So the answer to your question is; yes, I do hate you. I hate you because of the way you make me feel. I hate you because you’ve broken my trust too many times. I hate you because you use me for attention. I hate you because you take credit for my successes, and not my failures. I hate you because you are such a toxic person, and I don’t know if it’s the alcohol, or just the person you are. And I’m sorry that even when you do try to be kind, you get rejected by me. And I want you to know that that’s because the pain you inflicted on me caused me to feel sick to my stomach every time I look at you, because I can’t let go of this past and I never will. And I’m sorry.
And I hope that you can move on, and improve things in your life. But you need to understand that I am my own person, and I don’t need you. I’ve decided that being away from you is what builds me up, rather than tears me down. And I’m also sorry that this isn’t what you wanted to hear. But you’ve been asking me for an answer for a long time, and this is my honest answer. And you can blame whoever you want. You can blame me, you can blame anybody, that’s fine. Just know that the person I blame is you.