I’m happy and feeling full of light and love and I ‘was’ writing about that when something else suddenly started to come out. I went with it because I’m so seldom strong enough to crank these thoughts out and I think my happy mood has something to do with this new found endurance. Either way, I should warn you this might sound a little depressing but please don’t fret. This is far in the past, or it seems like far in my short little life, a bit more than six years ago. This post also includes minor elements of child abuse though I’ve hidden them within my wording- figured I’d warn those of you who might be sensitive to that sort of thing as I know I am from mood to mood.
PS, the photo above is taken by me. It’s a beach- just looking at it gives me a calming feeling similar to the one I had when I got this all out of my system. A little empty and a bit raw from the roaring waves but no worse for wear and all the more beautiful for it’s scars.
A note never read, a feeling never dealt.
A heart forever broken, and the tears that never melt.
I wrote her half a dozen letter before I knew what I was planning. Half a dozen letters before I even knew that I was planning at all. Letters… lots and lots of letters trying to tell her all about these new things I was feeling, emotions I never knew existed until that very month.
Perhaps I was trying to explain it to myself more than to her. Perhaps I was just trying to sooth and justify the sense of guilt and betrayal that washed over me whenever I thought about how happy I was with them, the other family- happier than I had ever been with her.
Whenever I acknowledged a hole deep inside my heart.
Whenever I acknowledged that she would never be able to fill it.
Whenever I started to suspect she had no desire to.
Strange how whole and hole are so similar in spelling.
So paradoxical in concept.
I kept the notes carefully hidden at first. Behind school papers never started or in my stories never heard. I don’t know why I hid them, hadn’t I planned on giving them to her eventually anyways? Perhaps not, either way it was a compulsion to stash the many first drafts away and as I started to pick my spots with more care I started to think about why I was picking those spots in the first place.
And then I started to write even more.
She’d never once helped me with my schoolwork, I even asked from time to time but she showed no interest and eventually… I didn’t either. She told me she was able to simply pass all her tests, never having to pick up a book or turn in an assignment. So all I ever did was the tests.
She always encouraged my art, showed it off to all her friends but all I ever wanted to do was write. She never read my stories though, not even when I asked. If she did, she never told me. A poor mistake on her part.
She never asked me what I was writing or where I was going, not even after I’d gotten into trouble, a stupid child’s mistake of breaking into a warehouse to do a little exploring. She’d heard from all her friends that I walked the length of the highway from beyond one side of town to beyond the other- and yet…
We never spoke of it.
We never spoke of anything.
I probably wouldn’t have opened up,
But maybe if she had tried…
I would have eventually answered.
That’s all I wanted after all.
For her to try.
Maybe that’s why I wrote them, those letters never read. Maybe I was hoping she’d find them in my stories and schoolbooks and her accusations of what was written would prove she was actually involved in my life… Maybe I was hoping she’d find the one, always a new draft, always left beneath my pillow or the ones that occasionally fell out of my bag.
The few on my bedroom floor? The one on the table? The two in the kitchen trash? How about the handful mixed up with her own pile of papers documenting all her court born sins, sour memories she’d rather see than he own daughter’s handwriting?
Maybe I did want her to find them, even out in the open, then at least I could have pretended she had gone into my room- forever unlocked with nothing ever hidden away, and tried to find out what her daughter was up to. I could pretend, and pretend, and pretend and so my world would be right again. So everything I had known would no longer fall into the past tense.
Then I could pretend the other family was wrong.
But she never gave me anything to pretend with. I, a child who proudly played in the land of make believe more often the one of reality, could come up with no excuse for the things I was forced to see.
They told me she was a drunk.
She went to the bar every sing night leaving me home alone. I paid for my own birthday with old beer bottles saved up in the garage, over fifty dollars worth and still she spent money on Jack and Coke when we were going to the food pantry every other week. She left me to play pool with men I didn’t know in strange places that smelled of smoke and stale bodies while she flirted and danced.
They told me she wasn’t a very good mother.
I woke up early one morning and didn’t return home till long after dark, I left no note and never made a call. When I came home she’d already left for the bar. I repeated this ever since and never once did she ask where I was going. I skipped school once a week and drove nails over my arms. I never hid it and she never said a word.
They told me she needed help.
She spent so many nights crying. So many nights dancing in the living room telling me her ex boyfriend who was never a boyfriend was standing out in the blizzard watching her, and couldn’t I see the red tip of his cigarette burning in the rain? She’d grabbed me roughly one night and calmly told my friends it happened every full moon.
I started telling myself that maybe it would be good for her too- if I left.
Once she told me she was lonely, one of those rare days we spoke- a day I told her all the same things her phone psychic had though for quite a lower price. I gave her an awkward hug and told her she had me. She just gave me a sad look and changed the topic in her own little way.
I understand what she meant when she said she was lonely but that moment still haunts me even till this day.
I wrote her half a dozen letters and I warned her that I was straying.
I warned her that another family had offered to be my umbrella.
I warned her that I was tired of standing in the rain.
I warned her that I was starting to understand what it felt like to feel love,
That I wanted this feeling more than anything else.
Even more than I wanted her.
I warned her.
But the letters were never read.
When I left I left them as well and sometimes when the nights are quiet and my new family, my true family, sleeps… I wonder if she read them. As the house was foreclosed and she packed everything away in that meticulous way of hers- I wonder… did she finally go through her daughter’s papers? Did she look at my blankets lying cold in an unused bed? Or did she look at Jack?
We had visits, a few, before the courts declared it unhealthy for the both of us- before I started to give up on her, but she never once mentioned the letters. Never once gave me anything I could use to pretend she was involved.
For my very last visit I wrote her one final. A single slip of paper, bent and crumpled at the edges. It wasn’t like the others, I didn’t try for my best penmanship, didn’t search for the most mature or meticulous words to catch her attention. I didn’t try to keep the folds creased perfectly because no matter how beautiful it was or how well worded- it said the same thing all the others had, abet in far fewer words.
I didn’t yet have the courage to stand there passively and hand it to her, to stand and wait for her reaction because I was far from strong enough to take her words with a grain of salt, so I threw it at her before turning to the mediator to thank him for his time and apologize for his abrupt departure. With that I turned and ran.
I ran, and ran, and ran, and didn’t stop until I came to the place I knew as home.
And still I wonder if that note was ever read.
This is all part of a much longer and far too truthful story. Unfortunately it is a far too common one as well. If you suspect someone of child abuse please don’t hesitate to reach out to them. Child Services isn’t always the best of help and sadly in a lot of cases there isn’t enough proof to help the child but if you ever reach out and let a kid know you’ll always be there to listen I promise it will be the greatest gift they ever receive and if it weren’t for gifts like that from a handful of people- I’m not even sure I’d be alive today.