Hi. My name is Faith. I used to be your daughter.
I’m not really great with leading into things slowly so I’m going to jump right in here and get to the point. I’m trying to remember you as a person separate from an abuser. It feels important to me to have a better picture of who you were as a kid and as an adult. I never thought of you as human, never thought you could actually die, or live for that matter. You seemed so big and without definition.
Although I have words that tell me what vacations your family took and what languages your family spoke, I have very little information about who you were and how you interacted with your family as a child and young adult. I’ve seen photos of vacations, photos of Spain, Mexico, Hawaii, Belize, up and down the Caribbean, on and on, but I’ve never seen photos of you and your sisters hanging around the house or just being kids. Your family photos left you and your sisters out and hardly ever included your parents doing anything other than standing stiffly beside one another. I sat through slide show after slide show seeing beautiful places void of family members. Click. Click. Click.
I saw a baby photo of you where you said you were ugly and looked like a little man. It wasn’t your best shot but babies aren’t ugly. Ugly is an attitude. Babies aren’t ugly.
Do you know that I remember the small bird sketches you did but kept hidden? You touched the paper so lightly with the pencil I could hardly make them out. You did realistic sketches that I’m too wild at heart to do. I thought you wrote beautiful poetry. The big grey African elephant was your favorite animal but I don’t know why.
I remember a lot about the abuse, which I hear is different than many others with my primary mental health disorder. I remember things in strict detail. I can mentally walk you through every car you ever owned, all 15 schools attended before graduation, every home I lived in and every curve of your face. I know those details, but I don’t know who you were as a child. That is something lost because your focus was not on sharing but on destroying me. History and lineage is lost when abuse is prolific.
I wish I knew who you were as a kid. What did you think when you got your period? How was that handled? Did you go to public or private schools? Did you wear a uniform? Were you into sports? What age were you when you were allowed to wear lipstick? lol Did you and your sisters ever play dress up? Did you wrestle around or were you all four girly and such? Did you keep a diary hidden away? Did you have a best friend while growing up or several? When you went to sleep did your mind run away with you or did you fall asleep easily? Did you have your own room?
I know your mother helped bring out the sadist in you. I know you four suffered terribly under the rule of your mother as I did you, however, we had moments where nothing bad was happening. What moments did your family have that were normal?
I love the way grass feels on the soles of my feet. I like the way a baby naturally curves in my arms. I like to see friends and pets sleep. There’s something so special about it. I love bugs and frogs and birds. I love to go caving, to walk trails, to listen to crickets while I look out into endless black. Thank you for giving me those experiences.
I wish I knew what kinds of things were precious to you. I know you weren’t big on living in a city but I don’t think you were as much of a country girl as I am. Oh, I just remembered the three of us standing outside in the rain. It was dark, the rain was the right temperature and we all stood there with our heads to the sky caught in a moment I hold dear. We were drenched, hair heavy with rain, clothes clinging to us. It was an amazing experience that we’d repeat through out the years. When I moved to Florida I quickly learned to watch the rain from inside. And now I remember something specific about you as a person. I remember you loved the rain. I won’t forget it.
Your dad said he thought your eyes were beautiful. You told me that when I was young and again when I was older. It must have been wonderful to hear that your dad said something about you is beautiful.
Mama, I’m 45 years old and I struggle with the idea that I know more about your sadism than I do anything else. I struggle with the thought that you could be cruel but still maintain a public appearance as a well put together professional. To see you as human is to break the hold you have on my dreams, my mind, my skin. Do you understand that when you abused your kids you took from us basic information about who you were at the different stages of my life. There are no stories to tell, nothing to compare to others, or to myself. Abuse took the place of this history being passed down, of understanding one another, of learning what makes you or me tick. So now I sit here trying to gather scraps of information, and form them into a being I always thought was greater than me. Now I know the person who said I’d never be her equal is more of a ghost story than ever before.