I want to share a story with you from my past.
I was fifteen years old and we’d just moved into a new house from our low-income housing where we’d been for the past few year. We had won a settlement from a local mall for injuries that were sustained due to their negligence. After all the years of fighting, we really didn’t end up with very much money.
My mother is disabled, meaning that she can’t really walk and when she does, it’s only a few steps. Our new house had stairs everywhere. My bedroom was the size of a pantry and I couldn’t even move in my room once the bed was in there. So tiny! Unfortunately, my youngest sister didn’t even get her own bedroom and had to live in the alcove that led to the backyard. My mother slept on the couch.
The only one who was happy with it was my eldest sister who had chosen the house for the large apartment sized room downstairs – for her and her boyfriend.
Put all of these strains together with various relationships, failed careers, needs and wants, money issues, and a pocket knife, things get really tense.
A pocket knife? Yeah. This small item is what I associate with the only time I’ve ever been violent in my life. I raise my voice but I never raise my hand.
This was the exception.
My eldest sister decided to pull a pocket knife on me and chase me around the house; At this point, she’d done so many things to me that I was at my tipping point.
Between trying to kill me with a hammer to destroying my property, I’d had enough.
As she was chasing me through the kitchen, I realized something. I’m bigger than her.
I pivoted on the spot and took after her. She dropped the knife and began screaming bloody murder. I chased her down all the sets of stairs that my mother couldn’t follow us down and I managed to knock her down. I sat on her and my anger released.
I’m not going to describe what happened, but I walked away with minimal injuries while she was certainly worse for wear.
My mother tried to ground me but I snuck out my window. I wasn’t going to compromise my safety by staying there. My mother and I always butted heads and I was always the blame of various things that happened; most of which I didn’t actually do.
I came back to get some clothes a few days later and on my way out, my mother ripped a piece of paper in half and handed me the scrap.
It said simply that she didn’t want me anymore and she was signing my custody over to my father.
She looked me in the eyes and said this to me, I don’t want you. Don’t come back.
At the time, I didn’t think much of it. Eventually, I went back to pack my stuff to move with my father but then I didn’t see her for a few years.
My father had me see a therapist to talk about what had happened but I kept lying to her and saying that I was fine.
At the time, I felt fine and I was more concerned with my relationship with my friends than that between my mother and I. I was just in survival mode just like I’ve been for the longest time. I cried more in that year of my life than I ever cried before; It wasn’t because my mother didn’t want me, it was over the injustice of it all.
Why was I punished for defending myself?
I finally understood why this world allows terrible people to get away with so much and it broke my heart.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I was emotional after saying the following sentence: My mother abandoned me.
This whole thing happened almost a decade ago and I still mostly carry it around with me. I decided to work on this issue with my therapist earlier this year and I mustered up the courage to confront my mother since I was told that her condition is getting worse and she count be dead within months.
All this time, I’ve been asking myself why?
When I got there, she recognized me instantly.
I was told that there would be a good chance of this not happening since she wasn’t all there mentally and was actually in a closed unit in the hospital. This means that the patients can’t leave at all because they’re a danger to others and/or to themselves.
I had a nice visit with her and brought some lotion with me to rub her feet – this was something I did all the time for her while I was growing up – and I told her I would be back the next day with some personal care items that she didn’t have and her favourite cookies.
Yes, I was avoiding the reason that I went there to begin with. The question was weighing heavily in my back pocket when I went back the next day.
I shaved her legs, did her hair, rubbed her feet again and all the while she was absently content at my being there, completely unaware that I was trying to find the words that has bothered me for so many years.
“Mom, can I ask you something?”
“When I was fifteen, you kicked me out. You told me to never come back. Whydidtoudothat?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Why did you sign over my life on a scrap of paper and kick me out? Why didn’t you want me?”
At this point, I was sure that she would ask me to leave
She looked at me and I could almost see her heart breaking. There were tears in her eyes as she said, “I did that?”
I nodded. My throat was so tight and my mouth dry.
“I’m so sorry, Celeste. I’m so sorry, Honey,” she leaned over and hugged me while we both cried.
I wasn’t looking for an apology, I was looking for a reason; An apology is more than I could have ever imagined.
All at once, I felt free. A great weight lifted from my shoulders.
“You’re my daughter,” she said, “why would I ever do that to you? You’re my smart daughter. I love you.”
“I love you too, Mommy.”
It was at that moment that I couldn’t handle it and I broke down into her shoulder as we sat there, hugging each other.
The years of tension leading up to this moment where I could finally let go of every time that I was blamed, every time that she made me feel stupid, and every time that I felt like I didn’t have a family.
I forgave her.
I moved on and I could only do that with her help.
…and months of help from my therapist.