I was lucky enough to grow up in a household with two loving parents
who did their best to ensure my sisters and I had everything we
needed. We had opportunities that many kids didn’t, and we always knew
love and safety. Our home was not a broken one, and I never–not in a
million years–expected to lose that sense of safety, that sense of
But I did.
Seven years ago, my heart shattered in the most inconceivable way,
broken by someone I never expected to hurt me. My mother.
When my parents’ marriage disintegrated (for reasons that are theirs,
and theirs alone), my heart cracked. But my father assured us that
nothing else would change–we were still a family. He still loved us,
still loved my mother, but that love had changed. I understood about
as much as I could, and I thought that if any family could overcome
it…it would be ours.
But my mother couldn’t cope with this change. Her heart was broken,
and all she could focus on was that heartache, that betrayal. She
didn’t see us anymore, she didn’t see all the good points in her life.
We tried to understand, but it’s hard. It’s hard when your parent
emotionally leans on you like that, when they say hurtful things about
another parent because their hearts are broken and they aren’t
remembering that the other parent is still your parent, and you still
And eventually, she left us in a more permanent sense. She sold the
house, sold everything in it of value, and took off. We didn’t hear
from her for years–she missed out on the birth of more grandchildren,
on weddings and birthdays and a million other little milestones.
She wasn’t there.
We tried to reach out to her, tried to get her to come back before it
was too late, but her responses (if we were lucky enough to receive
them) spoke of how we’d betrayed her when we sided with him.
My mother couldn’t see that to us, there was no sides. There were just
two parents that we loved with all our hearts, regardless of their
relationship status with one another.
She came back a few years later on her own accord, bringing with her
excuses and explanations and the plea that we somehow forgive and move
past what she did to us. I don’t think she anticipated how deep the
scars of her desertion ran.
We say we’ve moved on, we say that we’ve forgiven, but her absence
stings. She’s still not here, she’s still vacant from important
milestones, still hiding behind an endless supply of excuses. Maybe
it’s because she broke us, and she doesn’t know how to fix us. We are
broken, and we don’t know how to fix ourselves.
We don’t know how to mend this bridge.
Part of the problem is that nobody in my family talks. We bury our
issues to avoid conflict. We smile and put on a brave face when we’re
hurting, because we’ve never really been the family that can talk
about anything and everything. Tempers run high, emotions too and most
of the people in my family deal with these issues by cutting off
It’s hard to reach out to someone who’s hurt you in the past,
especially when they fill the silences that stretch between you with
excuses. Reasons for why they aren’t around, reasons that fall short
of the truth.
The fact is, we don’t know how to repair the damage that was done when
she left. We no longer know each other, we are like strangers and it’s
the saddest thing to not know your own mother. I’d imagine it’s even
sadder to not know your children.