*Trigger Warning: Mentions Rape, Eating Disorders and Abuse.*
We haven’t spoken since last October. We used to talk at least weekly but more and more I was drained. Ever since I was adopted into your family at the age of 6, I felt like I had something to prove. I had to EARN the right to a family, to be called your daughter. After going through so many foster homes, I was terrified that one mistake would kick me out. But you kept me.
I soon learned though, that life isn’t what it appears to be.
On the outside, we were a close family. Two parents and 3 kids. We had a pool and we were highly involved in our church and community. We looked like the perfect family.
But I knew it was different.
I struggled to make you happy. My brothers could say something and you would laugh, but if I said it…it was like all hell broke loose.
Daughters were supposed to be homemakers but not guys. You made me do the cleaning and learning how to cook, but never the guys. I had to learn how to do the outside chores as well like cutting grass and cleaning the pool, but the guys never learned how to clean or do dishes. As soon as dinner was done, I was expected to clean while the guys went to watch tv, even if I had schoolwork or a test to prepare for.
Speaking of school, I was never good enough. You told me I wasn’t smart enough for college and praised my brothers on how easily they made good grades. You got them braces, contacts, cell phones, and even helped them pay for college and their apartments. But not me. You said you couldn’t trust me with money even though I never asked for anything.
I was hurt. I know life isn’t fair but this seemed cruel.
I told you when I was raped. You didn’t believe me. Said I was just looking for attention even though I was shy. You decided I was no longer trustworthy and wouldn’t let me stay home alone. I wore baggy clothes, cut my hair and became even more reclusive. But you didn’t notice. You just asked why I couldn’t be “normal”.
You compared me to my female friends. You called them pretty, even beautiful while looking at me and saying that I had to work on it since I had no natural beauty. I developed serious self-esteem issues and tried to become the image of the daughter that you wanted, but I was miserable. I failed each time.
I began cutting, just to feel something other than mental pain. I stopped eating. Food was something I could control. You always struggled with your weight and I took selfish pleasure in being able to beat you at something. The hunger pains just meant I was winning.
Sometimes, it was like a switch flipped off on you. I never knew which “mom” I was going to have that day. The beatings started. You took me out of school for a whole week since there was a handprint across my cheek. I had welts that would bleed for days for not doing the dishes “right”. I never knew when the next slap would happen.
You brought up the rape and began to choke me. I remember everything going kinda yellow and hazy. I could no longer hear you screaming curse words at me. It was nice. I thought it was finally over and I wouldn’t have to hurt anymore.
But I came back.
I always had a “runaway” bag, just in case. I planned for my escape. For the day when I didn’t have to live under your rules. Dad was the one who got me my first job. You didn’t want me working anywhere, wouldn’t teach me how to drive. A close friend taught me and I got my drivers license and saved every penny I could. I finally left at 21 and you texted profanities at me to get back home. But I didn’t. I hopped on a bus and moved across the country. All I had was two suitcases and a laptop bag. We didn’t talk for 6 months then. But I was FREE.
I took a while to start to open up and trust anyone. But it happened. I started college and made some great new friends. I had a job that I loved. When we finally started talking again, we didn’t mention the past. We talked on the surface, neither one of us facing it. When I started therapy, I decided I needed to confront it. I finally said everything that I needed to say to you and let out the hurt that I had been feeling for so long.
Your response? That you tried to love me. But I had a difficult background. You “apologized” in a huff and we haven’t spoken since. I hated that after every phone call, I would cry. It wasn’t healthy.
All I ever wanted was a family. A mom that could be there. That would at least TRY to listen and understand. You post daily on social media how to love and let go of things. How you should raise your kids with a past that they don’t have to heal from.
Hypocritical, much? I try to remind myself that it’s all a facade. If only they knew the truth…
So, Mama, I’m doing much better. The things that you said I couldn’t do? I’m doing them now. I don’t cry myself to sleep every night wishing for my life to end. I made my own little family, instead. You tried to break me but I was able to put those pieces back. I hope one day you can admit the things you’ve done. I hope you truly have changed for the sake of your grandaughters.
Thank you for teaching me how to be strong. Because of you, I know how to love my daughter right. She will never be afraid to talk to me and she will always know how proud I am of her, no matter what.