I hope you’ll forgive me for so public a display as this. Maybe you’ll never even see it. If it does what I hope it will, you will instead receive a hand-written letter of apology and remorse from me.
See, I’m so used to typing, it’s hard to sit and write. But maybe this habitual action will help me sort out what I want to say.
Seventeen years ago, I found out I was pregnant. An accident, but not really.
The truth is, I wanted to be. I wanted a baby.
I wanted someone to love who would love me right back. Someone who wouldn’t leave me or hurt me the ways I’d been hurt already. I wanted you, always. Even before I knew.
You were born ten weeks early, so fragile and tiny, I thought I would lose you immediately. I had no way of knowing whether you would survive. I cried every day until you came home five weeks later. I railed at the unfairness of never getting to experience a sense of peace about you. I knew from the minute you were born how tenuous our hold on life is, how you didn’t really belong to me after all.
Because of who I am and what my life had been, I made bad decisions. A lot of them. Your father and I are both damaged people, mostly incapable of making reasonable choices for ourselves. In order to survive, I had to leave him.
I hated the split of our lives. You were just a baby, but I hated that I’d failed you already. I made vows to do things better, to be a different kind of parent than mine were. I swore I would never be the one to say you couldn’t see your dad, as long as you were safe with him. I wanted you to know him and me for what we were. I never spoke badly of him in front of you.
But all my hopes of being a good parent were nothing in the face of my mental illness, my irresponsibility, my dysfunction.
And now I see that no matter how much I loved you, it wasn’t enough. I didn’t do the things that would make you feel secure in yourself. I wasn’t well enough to model maturity and security for you.
I brought men in and out of our lives, I moved us around incessantly. I was selfish and impatient and wouldn’t just sit and play games with you, or hang out. I worked long hours and still didn’t do a good job of building a life or supporting you. I indulged you out of guilt over giving you me as a mother.
And now, you are lost to me. Not in a physical way, but I sense the distance and I feel fear about you. I fear your anger and overwhelming emotion; I’m all too familiar with it because it mirrors my own. My love for you is so strong it burns a hole in me. I fear it’s too late to undo the damage I’ve done and the patterns already so ingrained in you.
Being a mother is the most wonderful awful feeling in the world. Every action takes on vast meaning and sometimes irrevocable consequences.
But if I can start to learn how to loosen myself from this miry muck, then anyone can.
When you need to know the way, I hope you’ll still love me enough to ask.