by Christina Enevoldsen
Yesterday was my 46th birthday. Birthdays prompt me to reflect on my life—where I’ve come from and where I am now. Some of those thoughts included the woman who gave birth to me. My mother walked out of my life a few years ago and adamantly denies that my father sexually abused me, but it appears she was thinking of me too since she left a comment on my blog post, My Story by Christina Enevoldsen:
“Christina has dreamed up her sexual abuse–accusing her father of horrible, evil behaviors that far, far from his character. Christina is using these accusations as a way of hurting her parents and getting the attention she craves. So sad that she is willing to create a fantasy world where she is the hero / victim. Will she ever come to her senses and ask for forgiveness? That is the first step to real healing…“
Though it wasn’t the typical warm, fuzzy sentiments that other mothers might send, and she most certainly didn’t intend to help me in any way, this turned out to be a key to my favorite gift this year—a gift that came from me.
This is my response:
It hasn’t been easy to heal from all the damage you caused me. All my life, you walked away from me and I chased after you. I thought if I was good enough, you’d finally love me. When I asked for a more authentic relationship, you insisted that I was the one with the problem. Your rejection told me I wasn’t worth the effort. That was my fear all my life—that if I stopped performing for you, you’d abandon me. I was afraid of being confronted with the truth I already knew in my heart—that you didn’t really love me and never would.
I was hurt and angry about the ways you betrayed me, not only in my childhood, but throughout our relationship. When I finally acknowledged to myself the ways that you failed me, I wanted you to feel the same pain I felt. Mostly, it wasn’t to actually cause you to suffer, but so you would understand. I thought if you only knew what I felt, you’d have compassion for me and maybe even love me.
When you accused me of dreaming up these things about Dad because I wanted to hurt you, I realized how much I’m over you. I don’t feel pain over your abandonment anymore and I don’t have any need for you to understand. I don’t want an apology and I don’t care if you believe me.
If you came to your senses and suddenly saw the truth and admitted your gross error, I’d get no satisfaction from it. I hope, for your sake, that you do deal with your issues, but not so I can benefit from your healing.
All the things I needed from you, I learned to give to myself. Mostly, when I think of you, I feel nothing. There is only one thing that I can think of that still angers me, but not because of how it affects me, but how it continues to harm others. You present yourself as an elegant woman of God, but you are rotten inside. You deceive all those people at church by the masks you wear. I’m saddened by how you use the adoration of those people to exploit them, the same way you did to me.
I used to wish we could have an honest conversation, apart from the religious rhetoric that you like to spew. To do that, you’d first have to be honest with yourself and I don’t think you’d consider letting yourself see or hear the truth. I’ve accepted that we’ll never be mother and daughter again.
So you’re wrong that I want to hurt you and Dad. I don’t feel any pleasure in hearing about the difficulties you and Dad are dealing with now. But if the truth causes you pain, that’s not my problem. If you wanted me to say better things about you, you should have been better parents. Neither of us can change the past, though you’d rather ignore it.
I stayed silent for so many years out of a desire to protect both of you. I refuse to stay in the same dysfunctional role that I played most of my life. As my parent, it was your job to protect me, not the other way around. I’m finished protecting you.
In truth, I don’t write about the harm you and Dad did to expose you. I’m not motivated by you at all, though I understand that since our entire relationship was all about you, you’d think it’s still that way. It’s not about you, Mom. My healing would have no relevance or context without including how broken I was and since you did the breaking, you’re a part of my story.
In one of your last emails to me, you insisted that you’re my mother (and I presume that you were demanding that I give you the honor that goes with that title). I may refer to you as my mother when I’m talking to others, but only for clarity. As I refer to you by that title now, it’s only for my convenience.
A title signifies a function or description. Does “Mother” describe what you’ve been to me? I don’t think so. I’ll tell you when I’ll honor you as my mother. I’ll do that when you act honorably. You’ll never be my mother as long as you cling to your lies—not just the ones about dad’s innocence—but about the pain from your own childhood. You didn’t marry such a horribly cruel abuser by accident. Dad wasn’t the first abuser in your life that you covered for. I suspect you’re covering for your own childhood abusers to cover your own pain. But that’s for you to deal with. Hey, I know a good website that deals with that kind of thing if you’re ever interested.
With each passing year, I look more and more like my parents and I used to HATE that. Every time I looked in the mirror, I was reminded of their rejection and I felt ashamed of the people I came from and fearful of ending up like them.
This year, I’m amazed by how comfortable I’ve become with myself. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see my parents. I see both the innocent little girl that I was and I see the incredible woman I have become. Instead of feeling shame for the family I had, I feel very proud that I am nothing like them.
People say life is a gift, but the life I have now is the one I worked and fought for. The “life” my parents gave me left me hollow and empty. The life I celebrate on my birthday and every day is the life I gave to myself. It’s been a very good birthday.
Now that you’ve heard my experience and thoughts about this, I’d love to hear yours. Please comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to the comments so you can continue to partake in the discussion. If you would like to protect your privacy, you don’t have to use your real name. Email addresses are never made public.
My Parents Are Dead (To Me)
Understanding My Abusive Parents Didn’t Heal Me
The Truth About My Abuser’s Threats
Peace and Protection From Abuse
Healing From Sexual Abuse: Celebrating My Victories
I’m Christina Enevoldsen and I’m the cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse and the author of The Rescued Soul: The Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal. My passion is exploring new ways to express my empowered new life. I’ve recently discovered the joy of waterslides, the delightful scented lotion from Bath & Body Works, “Dark Kiss” and hosting princess tea parties for my granddaughters. My husband and I live in Scottsdale, Arizona and share three children and six grandchildren.