This Mother’s Day Milestone

Dear Daughter,

This past year has been a rough one.  It wasn’t just the winter, although that did not help.  I was warned about this year, by so many books, professionals, and sister survivors. I could do nothing but be aware of it and prepare myself, by taking steps to heal myself, by unpacking my past, by embracing my struggle, by letting my body feel its history, by finding my voice, and by speaking honestly about unspeakable things when others preferred silence. I have done those things for me…but also for you.

You see, sweet girl, you are the same age now that I was when I was first raped. Although I have not necessarily been consciously aware of this fact every single day, I know that this has loomed in the shadows of my mind, in the cracks of my emotions, in the weak moments of my mothering.

As this year approached I remember saying out loud, “If I can get her through this year safe, I will have done what I was put on this earth to do.” Even as I knew that this was not logical, even as I knew that your safety would never stop being my job, even as I knew that so many other milestones in our lives together would trigger these terrors in me, I prepared to do battle for you this year anyway. I braced and steadied myself.

Please know, that I have done all that I am capable of, and know that I have been preparing for this since well before you were even born.  I have confronted my demons, so that I could be on the look out for demons that might stalk you.  I have been vulnerable and honest with you about my abuse, so that you might learn to be vulnerable and honest with me.  I have taught you about your body, its proper biology and its sacredness, so that you may know that ONLY YOU can own your body, and that no part of it is shameful.  I have written down my joys and pains in poetry form, so that one day you might read my story and know more about both of us.  I have called out our rape apologist culture, in no uncertain terms, and tested sensibilities because sometimes fighting for your childhood required me drawing uncomfortable blood. I refused to close my eyes to the effects of my abuse, or the abuse of others, because I can only hope to stop what I am willing to look at.  I have given you as steady a routine as life has allowed, so that you will know what a safe home feels like, so you can dream as long as possible, so that your childhood lasts longer than mine did.

Who knows if all that is enough. Who knows if I can really keep you as safe as all the fibers in me require. Who knows if anything I do will change the world you live in.  But at least we will both know that I tried, and that must be enough.

We made it through this year, baby girl, and you are still innocent and safe.  I am still present for you, with all my strengths and weaknesses.  I loved you as best I could, and fought for you as best I knew how.  Even when it looked like I was fighting for me, please know that I was also battling for you.  This year I did my job, I got you through this year safe, with as little collateral damage as my humanity allowed.

I am under no illusion that next year might be easier, or that I will have less work to do for both of us. But this one year, this trigger year, is nearly over, and we will face the next one stronger, together.  I cannot give you a life without struggles, but I can try to build you a sturdier foundation than I had. Hopefully I built part of that for you this year, a strong foundation on which you will be able stand to face your struggles and hopefully I armed you with honesty, courage, knowledge, and a strong voice.

Your 9th year will be so different from my 9th year.  You will still be a child, and your body will still be yours, and that is a victory for me.  In this next year I promise to keep showing up and to keep facing my pain so that maybe I will be more available, more able, to help lessen yours…for as long as our lives allow.

I love you, “plus one,”
Your Mother


 Painting by Zdzislaw Beksinski

~ by April on May 8, 2014.

8 Responses to “This Mother’s Day Milestone”

  1. No words

  2. Strength, determination, but above all love. This is what I feel from your post. May your, and your daughters, lives be filled with love and happiness for evermore.

    • Thank you very much for your words. Happiness will come and go, as do all things, but this milestone does indeed allow a tiny victory…and then the fight continues. Peace to you, and thanks for reading.

  3. what is honest about your honesty is that you offer it ALL up: the successes AND the failures, the inbreath and the outbreath; my breathing to you both

    • Yes. In reply to a friend on FB, who wished me “relief and peace,” I stated that “relief and peace will come and go as do all things…but this little milestone allows an exhale for the moment.” And, that must be enough. Thank you for your reading, comments, support, and understanding.

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