Where do I begin? At the beginning? I can’t even find the beginning. The beginning of this day? It was snowing. We finally got a bit of snow. It started to feel seasonal. Christmas is approaching. My girls were frolicking in the flurries. We were off to my dear friend’s home to assemble and decorate gingerbread houses. It’s our tradition. We’ve done it seven years in a row. Her home sits next to a small pond. The girls went ice skating with her two kids. We drank tea, chatted, and enjoyed being with each other. It was the first moment in weeks I’ve had to relax and simply be, and I love being with her. She is one of my favorite people.
In the middle of our tea, treats, and girly conversations, my husband called–“Hey, I wanted to check in, and I also wanted to let you know that your mom sent you a letter.” I sucked in a breath. “It’s good that you’re over there. You’ll get some time to talk and process.” My heart was beating faster. “I already read it. It’s pretty weird. She wrote a letter to Santa. It’s not even written to you.” He then proceeded to read her letter to me. I listened to his words. I felt like I was going to choke or vomit. Tears came. I was in a dark room. She wanted to be with her daughter for Christmas. She wanted her granddaughters, too. She wanted a fresh start. She wants to reconcile. To make amends. Could Santa give her that?
I want a fresh start. I want her to make amends. I want her to spend Christmas with us. I want all those things, too. Someone tell me, please, how does one make amends for attempted murder? She tried to murder my two stepsisters in one of her many rages. How does one make amends for multiple suicide attempts? Oh, how many times was I called in by my desperate stepfather to convince her not to blow her head off? Three times? Four? When I was pregnant with my first daughter she slit her wrists. How does one make amends for ruining a wedding? She locked herself in her bedroom for an entire week prior to my wedding. She even refused to come out the day of my wedding. I was a nervous wreck the entirety of my wedding day because of her. I won’t even discuss the rehearsal dinner and all the details associated with planning and executing a wedding. Disaster…How does one make amends for not acknowledging a college graduation and belittling a person for actually going to college? How does one make amends for years and years of verbal and mental abuse? How does one make amends for essentially keeping a daughter as a prisoner in her home? How does one make amends for not reporting a daughter missing after an abduction? How does one make amends for abandoning a daughter after escape from captivity? How does one make amends for essentially making it impossible for a daughter to pursue justice for the crimes committed against her? How does one make amends for trying to pimp out a daughter in exchange for car repairs? I could go on, but what is the point?
Someone tell me. How can she make amends?
She can’t. It isn’t possible. What’s more, I have not asked her to do this. Her debt is too great. She can no more pay me back than I can repay the national debt.
What have I asked? I asked her to find a therapist. I told her that I would not even attempt a relationship with her until she had been seeing a therapist once a week for at least three months. Even then, I said that I may not be able to have a relationship with her. The sound of her voice triggers a panic response in me. When I hear it, I immediately feel frightened. I suddenly feel surrounded by darkness; I feel terribly alone. I feel threatened, and I freeze. That’s my limbic system taking over because she is a threat. She isn’t a perceived threat, you see. She is a real threat.
There is only one person who has seen me after my mother has unleashed the worst of herself upon me. She is a friend of mine from high school. She caught a glimpse of the darkness, of the Witch. My mother is like the stepmother from Disney’s animated film “Snow White”. She is the cold, jealous Queen appearing benevolent at times–“Let me help you with that. That skirt looks fine although I really think you could benefit from a girdle,” she said once baring her teeth in a snarling smile before I left for a date. Rarely, she is the waifish old woman, pulling at your heart-strings, all the while manipulating you. Underneath lurks the beast, the Witch. The Witch is murderous, cruel, and utterly sociopathic. When my mother’s personality is taken over by the Witch her voice and demeanor change. She can stay in this altered state for hours or days, and she will have little to no memory of it. She will attempt to destroy anyone that she perceives as a threat to her security even if that threat is a difference in opinion.
The Witch nearly destroyed me one night when I was a senior in high school. I will never forget it. Something in me fractured that night. And, the Witch is still alive and well inside my mother. I heard her voice during my last conversation with my mother. I won’t let her near my daughters. I won’t let her near me. My husband stands in the gap when I am weak. He reads the letters.
How can I reconcile this? A woman who has little memory of her crimes and asks me to open the door to my life as if nothing has happened? She refuses to go to therapy–“I take my Zoloft. I’m fine.” I know better, you see. The Queen wants me to kiss her ring. The Waif wants me to take a bite of the apple and forget. And, the Witch wants to take what isn’t hers.
I am reeling. My heart is aching all over again. I am panicked and scared. What can I say? What can I do? Santa isn’t real. This isn’t a fairytale. There will be no happy ending. The only truly wonderful thing I can say is that I woke up from my traumatized slumber. I saw what was true. And…you have no power over me.
You still have to go to therapy.
Otherwise, you shall not pass this way, and you can’t cut my heart out anymore.