Three Words

Dear Mummy

You have never read my writing. You do not know I write. Therefore, this letter might feel strange for you to read.

Let me explain. It’s me, your 18-year-old daughter, sitting at her computer at 3 a.m. while daddy and you are fast asleep. Except that, you’re not. I know you’re not. You are tossing and turning in bed, worrying. I know you have not been sleeping well. I can see it in the bags under your eyes. You are a light sleeper and wake up at every breeze. But beyond that, you are a caring, hardworking, devoted mother. I know you are, mummy! The only word I can think of to describe your love, your care, your thoughtfulness is “a Jewish mother.”

It pains me to know that I am the reason you are up all night. And that you have not had a normal night’s sleep since this all started, 3 years ago. I know that the years of agmas nefesh I brought upon Daddy and you were unspeakable and unbearable.

We put the doubts between us to rest. We stitched up the wounds and put ice on our bruises. We never talked. I never talked. But then we argued, and you made your assumptions. Your assumptions were correct. A mother always knows what her child is going through. You always surprise me by knowing exactly what is going on, even without me having to tell you. You talked to my therapist and it all finally made sense. You understood that I was not a crazy attention seeking teenager, but an abused and traumatized little girl. Now, 3 years later, you see me as a mature 18-year-old who has grown out of her struggles and developed into a strong, independent and capable young woman. I have come a long way. And so have you.

Mum, I want you to know that I never blamed you for what happened! Never! You are the strongest woman I know and the best mother I know. And believe me, Mummy, don’t go there. Don’t believe that loud voice called guilt. It’s NOT your fault! You always taught your kids to tell you when something was wrong! You simply didn’t know…

But after you heard the truth, after you knew.

Why didn’t you apologize?

I don’t need an apology for what happened. I am not a demanding teenager who needs her parents to be on their knees apologizing for things that weren’t in their control. Nor is it my therapist “putting ideas in my head.”

An apology does not mean that you are apologizing for being a bad parent. Or that you should have prevented trauma and abuse.

I mean that you never apologized for what happened. You never said, “I am sorry it happened.”

You never showed remorse. You never said, “I wish you hadn’t suffered so much damage on a daily basis.”

I know you were very concerned. I know that this was the most heartbreaking realization a mother can ever feel. I know it was an unbearable discovery for you. You needed time to digest it.

But you never asked me how I was. You never continued this conversation!

You never apologized…

That hurt me. Very much. I know you never see me cry or realize that I suppress my feelings. You always called it careless and imprudent.

It’s not your fault, but as a mother, should not you have checked on me after you realized what was happening to me?

It hurt a lot.

But then I realized. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

You have never read my writing. You do not know I write. Therefore, this letter might feel strange for you to read.

But that’s because I have never shown it to you. I never asked for your opinion. I thought my writing was private and I didn’t want you to read it.

Let me explain. It’s me, your 18-year-old daughter, sitting at her computer at 3 a.m. while daddy and you are fast asleep. Except that, you’re not.

I can’t fall asleep for the same reason. I can’t bear to face the memories that keep haunting me at night. I prefer to stay busy, very busy, so busy that I block out my thoughts and feelings. That helps.

I know you don’t sleep either. You are tossing and turning in bed, worrying. I know you have not been sleeping well. I can see it in the bags under your eyes. You are a light sleeper and wake up at every breeze. But beyond that, you are a caring, hardworking, devoted mother. I know you are, mommy! The only word I can think of to describe your love, your care, your thoughtfulness is “a Jewish mother.”

It pains me to know that I am the reason you are up all night. And that you have not had a normal night’s sleep since this all started, 3 years ago.

Those three years. Three years of pain. Three years of guilt and shame. The sadness. The anger. The feeling of loneliness. That I do not belong. That I am… …crazy. Mum, I knew you were thinking the same thing. And I knew you did not understand where you went wrong. Why, after four daughters, bringing your fifth daughter up, is just not the same?

From a carefree, popular, talented and charming little girl to a teenager who was… Crazy.

I did not know how to deal with my feelings. I tried to pretend that everything was okay, I tried to feel okay. But I was not. So I let it all out at school.

I know that the years of agmas nefesh I brought upon Daddy and you were unspeakable and unbearable.

We stitched up the wounds and put ice on our bruises. We never talked. I never talked. But then we argued, and you made your assumptions. Your assumptions were correct. A mother always knows what her child is going through. You always surprise me by knowing exactly what is going on, even without me having to tell you. You talked to my therapist and it all finally made sense. You understood that I was not a crazy, attention seeking teenager, but an abused and traumatized little girl.

Now, 3 years later, you see me as a mature 18-year-old who has grown out of her struggles and developed into a strong, independent and capable young woman. I have come a long way. And so have you.

And now I ask you why you never apologized.

But where was I? Why have I never apologized?

Unlike you, Mummy, I have a lot to apologize for. Whatever happened was out of my hands and out of yours. But I still have to apologize. For causing you a tremendous deal of grief. For causing you to go through everything I have gone through in those same three years.

I hardly ever cry. But now I am on the verge of tears. I do not know how to put those three words down on paper. They do not seem like enough. But I want – no, – I need you to know that…

I’m sorry, Mummy!

1 Comment

  • Hey. Just a shout out to any teens who are afraid to reach out. Go for it! I know it’s hard but it’s so worth it as jteen is absolutely amazing!

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