The day after I put the letter and a stack of bills into my mailbox, Brayden came back from the mailbox with an armful of mail. “Mom! This came for you!” I looked down at his hands and couldn’t believe it. I raised my eyebrows laughing in disbelief, “Seriously!? Seriously?? NO way!” Tears wetting the corners of my eyes as I doubled over laughing. “What, Mom?!” He asked laughing as he watched me.
Soon my whole brood had surrounded me wondering what was going on. “I tried to send this letter back but they wouldn’t take it.” Rob offered up the possibility that perhaps it was a mistake, “Maybe they overlooked it or were confused because it’s addressed to you?” “I doubt it,” I replied. “It’s probably because I wrote ‘Fuck You’ on it. Mabye the Post Office is the Courtesy Police and they get to decide what is acceptable to put on an envelope and what isn’t?” We all wondered about that for a minute. I could feel eight eyes watching me to see what I’d do. “That’s actually pretty funny. I’ll try dropping it in the box at the Post Office tomorrow.”
The best part about this letter popping up again is that I wasn’t upset. I think I even surprised myself by my sense of humor about it. I laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. Here I am — just going on with my day — and then SHAZAM! there’s my mother, once again, trying to ooze her way into my life. I could have been devastated. I could have started shaking. I could have collapsed to the floor in tears. And a year ago, all of these things were a possibility. But today, I can’t help but marvel at how strong I am and how much my hard work has paid off. Yes, memories keep visiting me in my nightmares but they’re showing up because I’m ready to process them. By being in the front of my mind instead of buried deep in my body, they are asking me to examine myself in a whole new way. I’m the boss. I am safe. I am loved. And unlike my childhood trauma, I can walk away from this. I can open the door. Send the letter back. And move on with my day. With my life.
After dropping my kids at camp on Monday, I drove the letter to the local post office and dropped it in the blue box. “Happy trails letter. I hope you find your way home.” I wondered if I’d see it again. I think I suspected that I would but hoped that I wouldn’t. I’m not afraid of the letter and experiencing that helped me see that I’m not afraid of my mother anymore. I’m annoyed that she’s disrespected my boundaries but even that isn’t a surprise. It’s typical. I’ve been given an opportunity to experience myself in this new, free, way and I’m taking great pride and delight in seeing that my work is paying off. I am okay.
Last night Zoe brought the mail in. “The letter is here again, Mom!” she said watching me with a curious eye. “Of course it is. Yay! Now I have a great followup post to the one I wrote today.” I laughed. “Okay, Mom.” She said in that way that teenagers do when they can’t figure their parents out. Later I told my friend, “I’m putting painter’s tape over the ‘Fuck You’ and maybe that will work?! She can peel it back when she gets it and can see it! We had a good laugh about this — “Painter’s tape so she can PEEL it. Ha ha ha!” I questioned if my mother would be curious or smart enough to even think to do that. I also jokingly wondered, “What if I’d written ‘Fuck You’ in Portuguese or Greek … or Polish? Would the Post Office have had a translator on staff to check to make sure my note was viewer friendly?” The jokes were endless and it felt so empowering to laugh about something that could have had so much weight.
If the letter comes back — with my painter’s tape on it — I’ll put it in an envelope. Sure, I’ll feel slightly pissed that I have to write my mother’s name and address, pay for postage and that I have to deal with her at all. But the truth is, I’m always managing my mother. This is something I’ve always done. Now I can do it from a place of strength instead of fear and if this letter is confirmation of that, well then I’ll take it. And I’ll just keep singing this song, “The
Cat Letter Came Back” because since the letter’s second arrival, I just can’t get it out of my head! It makes me happy.
Take good care of yourself. Whatever that looks like. Ask for help if you need it. Working our way through the places that scare us — holding space and honoring our process — is worth it. It really is. Since remembering my abuse, it’s been a scary bumpy road filled with anger, rage, sorrow heartbreak and even joy. Deep profound joy that’s there waiting once we wade through the muck. Be brave in your living. I’m with you sending love.
Categories: Tri-Umphant Living