I felt the need, especially after talking to Sarah of Writing & Rambling briefly during the #beechat today run by the brilliant Charlene McElhinney – you should really check out both of their blogs by the way, great reads.
My mum and I have one of those relationships where we live each other but there’s so much I feel I could never say to her, and so there’s always been a distance between us. Now I know she’ll never read this but I felt it necessary to write it in the hope that getting it off my chest will make things easier between us.
The number of memories we have, some good and others not so good will always come to mind when I’m talking about you with friends. The fights we’ve had over stupid things and the fact that even when I’m at university you still want to chat every day, both make it clear that even through our slightly disfunctional relationship we do care about each other. And that’s why I’m writing this – there are some things I need to get off my chest, starting with the elephant in the room.
Rachel wrongly told you in November that I’m bisexual. I’m sorry that she did this, to be fair to her my version of coming out to her was me sobbing outside Co-op because I couldn’t cope any longer with the fact my friends had ditched me after coming out to them as liking girls. I was 15 at the time, she was 12. Now before you ask questions, I know I “had a boyfriend” for a while but really that was just me trying to pretend to myself that I liked boys and he seemed the easiest to like. He was kind and easy to talk to, something I needed when you and dad were going through rough patches and none of my other friends seemed to understand me. I was hurt when I told you about my first real date this year and your response was “I can’t talk about this, I won’t talk about this.” I was disappointed you couldn’t even pretend to be okay with me dating a girl, the way dad could, and I think I may have let that influence the way the date went in the end. I’m not blaming that part on you, just to be clear – that part is fully me. I used to blame you for my failings but I realise now how childish that was.
I do, however, blame you for my issues with confrontation, the real reason I’m writing an open letter to you. From the first time I was fully aware of you and dad arguing, you made it your job to inform me of how terrible he was and constantly said that you were only still married to him because of me and Rachel. If it wasn’t for us, you would’ve left him years ago and you would’ve been happy. That’s not something any 10 year old needs to hear. That’s not even something a 20 year old needs to hear. You can’t blame your children for your unhappiness in life.
I know that what he did all those years ago was wrong, and last year was even worse, but at both times you were free to walk away and Rachel and I would’ve understood when we were told the full story, when we were old enough to hear it.
It wasn’t until recently, however, that I remembered some of your arguing in Forfar. You’d had a horrible argument over something before the two of you were meant to go out for dinner. It was a Friday night, Rachel and I had been fed and were watching You’ve Been Framed before Pamela, the babysitter, got there. Dad sent me upstairs to ask you something, but you were still so angry at him that you didn’t care what it was I had to say. You lifted me under the arms and dropped me at the top of the stairs in such a way that I fell down them and hit my head off the wall at the bottom. I didn’t know what I’d done to make you so angry with me, but I was too shocked to cry at the pain. And that’s my earliest memory of you. Did you know that?
But all that’s in the past. I’m trying to move on from that, and try and get to know you as you are now. You still try to involve me in your arguments, you never let things go, and you stand firmly in your beliefs. But you’re my mum and I still love you, even if there’s a part of me that you can’t love.
Tomorrow’s the anniversary of Tom’s death. You’ve no idea how much I want to be at home with you right now. I don’t want to be alone in the flat thinking about it, or about how you were the one who had to make that horrible decision to turn off the machines – I certainly don’t envy you that. When we came to pick you up from the hospital afterwards and you took the keys from me to allow me time to register everything that had happened. How we got home and I went outside to be alone while crying, and you came out and just hugged me close. I need that right now. I try to pretend I’m grown up and don’t need you but right now I do.
I was terrified to tell you that I’d failed my exams this year and would have to resit and most likely wouldn’t get back into university. I felt like the world’s biggest disappointment to you. However, you instantly told me everything would be okay, that you’d support me no matter what happened, and that you knew I wouldn’t move home even if I failed. That last part, I could see it hurt you. But you were accepting of the fact that I’m (mostly) ready to enter this world as a responsible adult. You talked me through my options, and you made me feel like there was hope.
So the start of this letter was to talk through the things I can’t say to you out of risk that we’d fall out and not speak again. But I just wanted you to know that I’ll happily keep that locked away inside, forgiven and forgotten, as long as you stay the strong person you always have been. I love you, always have and always will.
Love, your little girl.