The memory of smoke

The memory of smoke

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Letter to Mary


I know you think it's awful that I've estranged myself from you. Bad, anyway, not what you want. But I am not someone you want in your life. I've hidden myself from you for most of my life. From the colors I preferred, because you didn't like them, to my utter lack of faith in your religion. You would not like me, because you don't like any aspect of what I have become, based on everything I've heard from you all my life.

That you don't remember ever saying many statements that I cannot forget, does complicate matters. Your truth tended to shift like beach sand, here one day, gone the next. Not lies, exactly, but absolute statements, that you later denied was what you meant.

So, let me start at the beginning. I had my period twice before it got so heavy I had to ask for help. I was ten years old when it started. This is not the sort of thing a child should have to hide from a parent. A supposedly "wanted" daughter from her mother. That you then handled it by being even more embarrassed than me, really doesn't speak well of you. Maybe I reacted to this, in part, when I went into nursing. I've put tampons in, and taken them out, of other women - professionally. It's not the grossest thing I've done. Not even in the top ten. That a 47 year old woman, who so dreamed of having a daughter, didn't have her head around this enough to be prepared, speaks to your character. It was one of the proofs, a data point, the beginning of the erosion of my regard for you.

Not even to get into how meager your ability to deal with your husband. That is another whole letter, and based on our last conversation, you are still in complete denial. Leave that now.

When I was 19, and had a boyfriend of a sort, and wanted to move out, you told me if I was going to live "that kind of life, you are not part of this family." Yes, you did. I could never have made that up. By then, I'd already dropped him. And by then, I already had sort of crossed that line anyway. But I still needed some mothering, far past due and starving, but you were all I had. So, I hid, more, and for a long time to come. I would live with the now ex before marriage. Wish I hadn't married him - would have made the escape from him easier. Thanks for helping with undoing the legal entanglement I wouldn't have gotten into in the first place if not for your rare and beaming approval. Added irony, when a cousin got in touch with me this year, "that kind of life" would have been pretty mild bad behaviour in "this family." So much for the limits of your "unconditional love."

You really don't want to know how much I enjoyed being in the army, while still legally married. Still, never did get pregnant, not even with one of those mixed race children you so feared for. Never had sex for money. Or security. Or so I didn't have to go to work. I used contraception, but I wasn't always careful because most of that time I felt pretty self destructive. If I had ever gotten pregnant, I would have had an abortion. Only wish when you were carrying me you had aborted me. Well, up until I had a few years with Dylan, and decided that all I'd gone through until then was worth being with him.

I started drinking beer when I was just short of being 21. And still no evidence of alcoholism. Smoked pot a handful of times, enjoyed it, but it wasn't really my thing. Big whoop. Aleve is my drug of choice, and Benedryl.

Agnostic to my core. Stopped believing in god when I was seven. Hated church with every cell. Too afraid to tell you any of that. Stopped going to church as soon as I was on my own. I don't even believe enough to deny god with atheism. I just don't think the concept is important. I live a kind, compassionate and ethical life, without needing a magical deity to threaten me with punishment, or a better life if I suffer enough this time. I figure this is all I get, best do it properly, when it's over, that's it.

I eat out as much as we can afford. I love my microwave, computer and dishwasher. I've worked all my life, and still keep a pretty clean house, and garden, and take care of a cat. Oh, and the cat lives indoors, with indoor litter boxes. One in the bathroom. I don't mind a bit. Ok, no kids, but you always knew that. Always told me I should never have kids. At least I didn't pass on your parenting to another child. It stopped with me. Too bad you didn't grind that in to your sons as well.

Sounding bitter? Cynical, yeah. The contradictions annoy me, when I stop to think about them. It's not even anger, just a persistent puzzlement. A conundrum I know I'll never solve, but I occasionally give it a go and then feel frustrated - mostly at myself for picking at it, knowing it's pointless.

Like this. I'll never send it, because that would be cruel. You won't read it. Mostly because computers scare you. Neophobe.

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