I thought I would start out this year with a better, clearer mind. For that I wanted to write an open letter to my mother. It’s been almost three years since we’ve talked and I thought I would clear my chest of what has been burdening me throughout my life and relationship with her.
I grew up in the slums of St. Petersburg, Florida right on the coast of the Gulf. We had a small shanty house on the side of a busy street, across from a rundown church and basketball court. A concrete pad that I had skinned my knee learning how to ride my first bike.
My father worked as a mechanic, working odd jobs at factories and car dealerships. While my mother baby sat local children in the neighborhood to make ends meat. Through her work, my mother met two amazing women with kids of their own, who then grew later into being my family.
My mother was always happy then. Playing with us on the floor. Building sheet tents throughout the entire house like a giant maze. The house was always filled with laughter and music. There’s these beautiful family videos of my mother playing hide & seek with us, that I revisit frequently to remember what was.
Life was happy. Life was good. My father was rarely home, but when he was you couldn’t peel me away from him. I idolized and still do, my father. Since my father was away for work a lot, during the weekends he would plan special “just us days” for my brother and I. My days were filled sitting on my father’s lap playing guitar or working on a car in our front lawn. My brother’s were spent building model rocket-ships and going to our park across the street to launch them. We loved our father and every bit of time we spent with him growing up.
Through hard work and long hours, my Dad finally secured a job as a mechanic for Disney. So our world had to move for his job. That’s just about when everything fell apart.
Without the support of my mother’s close network of friends and family in St. Petersburg, she spiraled into a deep depression. Releasing her frustrations on me and my older brother. Through mental and even physical manipulation and abuse.
Money started to thin and our walls were caving in. My mother had to get a full time job working as an admin at a local business. From there, my brother and I were alone most of time.
We were alone every day. Everyday after school, I’d walk home from the buss stop, my brother would make us snacks and help me with my homework. Then, it was our jobs at the ripe age of 13 & 9 to maintain the home.
Everyday we did the laundry, mowed the lawn and maintained the house repairs. Only to be beaten for missing something or not having dinner ready. There was little food in the house. Times were hard. The only repave I had was to run off to friends houses to hide from my mother’s constant abuse.
My father worked such long hours to support us, that he never had any idea what was happening at home. My grandparents and Aunt (my mother’s family), just pretended everything was fine, even they knew clearly what was happening at home. They sat back and allowed my mother to torment us. They let us go hungry. They let us not have winter coats. They saw it all happening and allowed it to go on.
There were several nights, where the yelling, screaming and physical abuse would go on and on. I could remember, just hiding in my closet in my bedroom. I remember falling asleep in there. Tucked under my blankets. Hiding.
I worked through drug and alcohol addiction through the ages of 15 to 18, I was no longer able to cope with my mother’s constant, never ending abuse.
I was arrested at 16 and charged with 5 felonies. That’s another story for another day.
My brother, my only solid protection from my mother left for college to leave me alone with her. Through my parents divorce, through the physical and mental abuse of my mother. Both my father and I couldn’t cope. We hid. We got home and went into our separate rooms, never to talk to each other in fear of having to interact with my mother.
With my brother being gone, of course I was the only logically tool for my mother to use against my father. I was the “bargaining chip” in their divorce. The relayer of messages between them. The constant middle ground.
My brother came home from college and attempted to help. He quickly got me back on my feet, worked through my addictions, registered me in College and even got me my first job.
I worked my butt off through college, paying for it all on my own. I worked full time hours and went to school full time. All while my brother was there, just cheering me on and when I lapsed he never once judged.
To this day, I never really truly could understand how strong he was. He took the abuse too. And on most days, he took it for me too. He protected me. He gave me my life back and I don’t honestly think that I could ever repay him.
Spring forward to almost three years ago, it was my wedding day! My parents were officially divorced, everything was OK and I was getting married!
Little did I know, that this very day would be the biggest turning point in my life. The day my mother ruined my wedding. My mother dictated the guest list, she dictated the schedule and dictated just about everything else. She showed up to my wedding stoned out of her mind, with two of her half-dressed friends. She and her friends stripped on the dance floor of my wedding, while stoned and drunk. Then to top it off, left early from my wedding to go smoke weed outside our venue. Most of my wedding, was spent hiding just as I did as a child. I hit during my wedding because I couldn’t take them embarrassment.
People were laughing, taking videos and I heard whispers of this being the most “trashy” wedding they had ever been to. Great. Just great. Yes there are still videos floating around on the web….
It was my wedding night, as I was sobbing in the shower at our hotel. I crawled into bed with my husband and said “Ok” and he knew exactly what I meant. It was time to walk away.
My husband had been telling me for years, that this relationship with my mother was eventually going to kill me. He kept telling me, that even though family is family, it’s ok to be selfish and say “enough is enough.”
It’s been three years since I’ve spoken with my mother and I can tell you completely honestly, I have never been happier with my life. My anxiety is under control. I’ve started to make new friends, which I’ve never really been able to open up to before. My husband and I bought a house together and life is just good. It’s really good.
My father has been so supportive of my decision to step away. Because in light of everything, he did too. A year before our wedding, he stepped away from my mother too.
And honestly? He’s extremely happy too. We both are.
As for my brother, he’s still trying to do right by my Mom. Stilling sticking it out, but I am sure one day in the near future, he will understand. My brother and I rarely talk anymore. Since our parents divorce, it’s been figuratively split downtown the middle. We both chose sides. We both made choices. Mine was to step away from our mother and remain by my father’s side. My brother’s was to keep both.
So there’s this, an open letter, I guess to my mother and I guess to you. About my childhood, where I come from and mostly about my relationship with my mother. This was not meant to draw pity or create drama, this is my background. These are the moments that shaped who I am and what I became in spite of my upbringing.
Just keep pushing forward and never ever give up hope.