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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What does it all mean?

Days like today are difficult.

" are that they might have joy..."

I have joy. I could never say otherwise. I have three beautiful children and a pretty wonderful life. And I'm grateful the abundance I enjoy every day.

But underneath it all, there is a part of me that cannot understand why I still ache. A corner of my heart still wishes to change everything.

I'm not looking for sympathy or an explanation. In honesty, I don't really know what I'm looking for.

I was helping Tabitha clean her room yesterday. She had placed a photograph of my grandmother in a frame. What she didn't know was that in the photograph my cousin David was standing slightly behind my grandma, in the background. She's had the photo for nearly five years now. It has always made me miserable, but I've allowed her to keep it because she has no idea who the man in the background is. Yesterday I asked her if we could throw the picture away, and I explained why. She was more than willing to put cousin David in the trash--and even went so far as to rip his picture into little pieces first.

Part of me is still outraged that I was raped by him. I want that part of me to leave. I don't like feeling anger.

Sunday my mother gave the lesson in Relief Society. I have no idea what the topic was. She began telling a series of stories--all focused on me. And she looked through the audience for me--but didn't see me. I didn't make myself known to her. She continued her stories--some were truer than others. I have no idea why I was the focus--she has seven other children, not to mention in-laws and grandchildren. Ten minutes before class ended, she finally noticed I was there. This was how the lesson continued at that point:

Mom: Oh! You are here! I didn't see you.
Me: (smiling) Yes.

Lesson continues...

Mom: So I'm going to confess that I was not a wonderful mother. I was a yelling mother. My children did not feel safe in our home because of me. I yelled all the time.

(awkward pause)

Mom: But I don't think I ever screamed at my kids. Samantha, do you remember? Was I a screamer, too?

(huge awkward pause)

Me: Mom, I think this is something we could talk about another time, maybe.
Mom: Well! that pretty much answers the question, doesn't it? Anyway, I bring this up because out of my seven children, only two have followed in my footsteps. And you've all heard me talk about what a wonderful mother Samantha is. I'm just really glad that she's not like me--in any way...

There really is no good response to that, so I didn't respond. When I was very small, I used to wish to be like her. I thought she was beautiful. I wanted her to hold me--to think I was beautiful, too. Now I realize that I truly have done everything in my power to become someone completely different from her. People do not recognize that we are mother and daughter unless we tell them--and there is some physical similarity. But I speak differently, I hold myself differently, I refuse to borrow her gestures or speech idioms. And in doing so, somehow, it feels as though I have betrayed us both.

My daughter does not look like me. She is built like me, but has the facial characteristics of the Stevens family. I find her imitating me. She wants to emulate much that I have in my life. She wants us to dress similarly, read the same books, cook together. She was ecstatic when her hair began to have curl like mine. She borrows my clothes. This is all very foreign to me because by the time I was her age, I was planning to leave my home in three years. My mother, at that point, had recognized that I hated her and was trying to make amends. I wouldn't allow it.

She would buy small gifts and leave them on my pillow--a pair of socks, a nightgown, a new shirt or a book. If they exist today, they still have the tags on them. Once she left me a single carnation in a vase on my dresser. I dumped the water out of the vase and watched the flower die. Anyone who knows me well, knows this is pretty extreme--I adore flowers. To go out of my way to insure something I loved died, simply because it came from someone I hated, is unusual for me. But the point is, she tried. I was the one who would not allow any closeness. In my head she had beaten and rejected me from my birth, she invited her nephew into our home to rape me in imaginative ways, and I hated her. This is, of course, skewed by the hormones of puberty. My mother did not condone her nephews actions, and had she known, I'm quite certain she would have done something to help me. Still, there was no trust between us, so I felt unable to talk about the things that were hurting me with a person who had caused years of that hurt.

Which brings me to my first question...What does it all mean? Why am I here? At some point do I stop being pathetic Samantha who was unwanted and abused, and become fierce Samantha who refuses to be stopped by difficult circumstances? And if I have to be both, how do I do that? When may I stop aching for the touch of someone who would cuddle the little girl inside, comfort the adolescent in agony, and tell me that in spite of everything I am wanted just because I'm me?

Probably I already know the answers. It's just that today, they're difficult to find.

I'm sure tomorrow will be better. :)


  1. Hope tomorrow is a happier day for you. Hugs -A.J.

  2. I've heard of a therapy where people act out what they want and need to hear from their family members with other people who want or need to hear things from their family members. It's a pretending exercise, that for the woman I spoke with about it, was surprisingly effective. Maybe it'd be worth considering? Because SOME one cares about that wounded little girl inside you, even if it didn't happen when it needed to have or come from the person you needed it to come from.