swoonSeptember 1998

To: The Woman Who Gave Birth To Me

‘Dear Mum

How do you sleep at night? Have you like me spent time in the small hours wondering when will we meet again? You see for most of my life I have held on to the idea that one day you’d be back. 

I had every reason to trust you. You took me everywhere. I could sit in the middle of a field or you could sit me in a different room to you. As long as I could sense you there I felt safe. So when you told me you’d be back, I believed you. I held on to that hope because there are so many things I wanted to ask you, so much I wanted to say. After all I am your daughter.

 few years ago I made up my mind to find you. In my worst nightmare I didn’t imagine that I would be told that you had told everyone I had been killed in a car crash. I have a real problem with that, mainly because I am very much alive. 

You can abandon me, you can deny my existence and you can invent my death but you cannot take away my birth. I have a certificate to prove it. It tells me that you are my mother. It gives me a surname of a man who is not my father and the man who is my father is apparently unknown.  Why?

Why were you never around to tell me; to explain things; to reassure me? I can answer that. Because when you left me, you knew in your heart that you would never be back. You left your little girl taking her identity with you.

I wonder if you ever loved me at all? I ask this because you knew the type of man you were leaving me with. Yet when push came to shove you abandoned me to save yourself. Did I mean so little to you? Was I not worth protecting? What made you choose not to take me after all? What gave you the right to renounce your motherhood?

I know you have had a hard life, but so have I. My life would have been so different had you not given up on me; had you come back for me. I will never know what could have been. I will never have the answers. I will never have the love of my mum. And you have no idea how much I hurt.  If you did, you wouldn’t sleep at night.

Before I say good-bye I have one last question and that is to ask whether or not you believe in forgiveness. Because I do. I have complete faith in a God who is healing me of my pain and anger. And I know that in time I will be able to say from heart that I forgive you. Just not yet.’

Well that was a letter I had been asked to write towards the end of my stay in rehab.  It was the first time I had looked at it since reading it out to a  group of other recovering alcoholics exactly sixteen years ago. It bought back memories of the start of my journey to emotional recovery and provoked painful feelings of rawness and vulnerability. It also reminded me of my inability to let go and forgive.

In the time that has passed since then I have never seen or heard from my mother.  In fact I don’t even know if she is alive or dead. My questions and many more have remained unanswered and it would appear that nothing has changed.

But it has. For if I was to write to my mother today it would read:

September 2014

To: The Woman Who Gave Birth To Me

‘Dear Mum

I forgive you.

Thanks to the power of my faith and the grace and compassion I have experienced in my own life I am now able to say I hold no resentment, bitterness or anger towards you. I no longer need to know why you left or why you never came back. I have let go of those issues because they only served to keep me trapped in the pain of the past. And I am free from that now 

It was through my weaknesses that I discovered my strength. It was because of the depths of my darkness that I was able to rejoice in the light. And I have peace.

I don’t just forgive you; I also want to thank you. You gave me life and for that I am grateful. For I have used my life to create two new lives. I have two amazing daughters who make my world complete.

I’ve stopped wondering how you sleep at night. What matters to me now, is how my children sleep.

They sleep secure and sound in the knowledge that they are cherished and love. As do I.’

Writing a letter that is never intended to be sent can be a very powerful tool to explore your emotions. You don’t have to share it with anyone unless you want to and best of all you can write fearlessly. Then it’s your choice to keep it or simply throw it away.

So if you decided to write a letter like this, who would you write to?

Huge thanks to Katie m Berggren for allowing me to use her beautiful artwork (May not be reproduced in any form without her permission.) Take a look at her other work here: kmberggren.com/

©Carolyn Hughes thehurthealer 2014. All rights reserved.