It has taken me years to put this on paper…
I am not sure where to even begin. Maybe I should start where I started noticing that something was wrong. Don’t worry, I’ll be quick…
I must’ve been around four or five years old. It was pouring outside, I sat watching you; *Pam; taking yet another sip from this misty long tumbler. I wondered what it was, eventually I asked, “what you drinking?” Nothing could have prepared me for your response. You snapped, “it’s rain water, I’m not sharing!”. I remember a deep sense of shame, embarrassment, reject and my soul wanting to just curl deep within. Surely you remember my first encounter.
Months leading to my dad’s death, in our home of five, we had just finished breakfast. I was 5 years old, nearing six, and I stood before my parents with a bowl of oat cereal that I could finish and asked “what should I do with this?”. You swiftly responded, “chuck it in the drain”. No one has ever said this to me before. I did not know what that meant. What was expected of me? Was I supposed to somehow lift the drain lid and open it somehow? After standing outside for a long while, with my bowl of cereal, I returned to both of you and confessed “I tried to lift the lid and it wouldn’t badge”. My dad smiled, played with his beards and as he opened his mouth, his words were muted and all I heard was your voice “I’ll slap you so hard for not using your brains”. Of course, fear came over me and I went to my comfort zone…my mind and silently wishing for tomorrow. This became my home.
My dad, your husband passed. The pain of losing my father never truly left me. You separated me from my two sisters. They went with you and you left me with his mom. I queried this for years, but never did I get a response. Eventually, we were reunited at age 11. Little did I know that this was the beginning of turning me into an empathetic and strong woman. Whatever I said or did never amounted to your standards; whatever they were. I spent nerve-wrecking moments silently wishing for tomorrow. I was not happy. I started writing poetry, to run away from being compared to either my younger or older sister. Still, you found a lot of fault in that. What was I doing wrong? I decided to try write for you, but I couldn’t because I did not know you as a mother. You made me feel bad about the people I love. My gran was everything to me, and yet you made fun of her social status “you think you’re beautiful, you’re not. you will be poor all your life live in a shack like your aunty”. We were standing in the kitchen, I was wearing the black & white skater dress I loved so much. When you saw that I was shocked at this; no one has ever verbally attacked me; you said “you know I was just joking”. That joke froze my entire being. I didn’t just silently wish for tomorrow; I actually wished you dead so that I would go back to my family.
After high school, I could not pursue writing studies because you said I had to do Fine Art instead. Of course I lived to please you, I did just that. Fortunately, I had an amazing time in the visual arts. I combined my writing with my visual works; I enjoyed that so much.
Trouble began, once more, when I started working. I would still like to know why on earth would you try strip me of the things I bought. Whatever I bought, you demanded and yes, I let you take advantage of me. What was I supposed to do? I was always hopeful that somehow you will look at me, too, like your other children. Nothing could ever prepared me for the letter you wrote me a month after I started working though. Do you remember it? I kept in it that very same envelope that it was hand delivered in. Among other unpleasant things it contains, it read “you need to pay me back for giving birth to you, raising you in a warm home and paying for your studies…”. It still baffles me to this day because 1. I do not recall standing in a fetal queue waiting to point out which mother I would like to birth me, 2. we both know that my paternal gran raised me most of my life, and that home you refer to still remains a mystery to me. Memory screams loud every time I think back to your houses of terror; both of them. There was nothing homely about sleeping with one eye opened and always fearing of when this person they say is your mother will terrorize you once more. I lived in fear under your roofs, there was nothing homely about them, 3. paying for my studies sounds far from the truth because when I started working, I was repaying my study loans. Maybe you were referring to the graduation gown you hired out for me, I don’t know. I remember that month I gave you almost every penny I earned. Not once did you ask me if I had money for rent or food that month. All you cared about was your so-called payback money.
Not once did you celebrate anything I accomplished, instead you always highlighted what was at fault. When I pursued my Masters, you were on my case about getting my PhD. I never said I wanted a PhD, I just wanted to study so that I would not be left out in the arts. I wanted to grow, that’s it. When I pursued my Education studies you immediately insinuated that I was miserable in my previous career. Do you remember the text message you sent telling me that? Well, I do. That’s not it, but you will never get it. I do not mind that I may be getting paid far less than what I am used to. I love teaching, it’s my calling. You will never get it though, you will never get me Pam. I have tried in so many ways to let you know what I am all about, but your ears were always deaf when I had something to say. That’s alright though, I understand why. It might have taken me a lot of counselling sessions to see, but fortunately now I see. I could never please you. I can never make you accept me. You decided to behave the way you do towards me and no one will ever change that but you. In your eyes, I am always all things bad. All the names you have spoken over me; all of them; I reject them. They have no power over me because you have nothing I want anymore. They don’t have hold over me. You don’t have hold over me.
I think I’ve had numerous last straws with you, but the one a few days before my birthday takes the cake. “Hi, I know you have money, give me some…I should not even be asking for this money. I deserve it. I raised you and gave you life…” your text message read. I remember thinking “hold on now Pam. Didn’t we do this years ago? Surely I’ve paid my debt to this woman. Right?” As always I counted a few minutes before responding, “why the animosity now?” I responded. That blew your tip over, oh well. I must apologize for telling you off like that. I’m sure you were not expecting me to tell you that I owe you nothing, as I paid my dues back in 2006. To remind you that I had never begged or demanded you to give birth to me, no child ever does.
Anyways Pam, as much as I am not sure how I feel about you, I am certain that I choose to care for you from a distance. I refuse to allow you to poison my life any further. I tap out, mother!
From, the daughter you never reached out to,
*Pam is not her birth name