(An open letter to my mother)

December 18th, 2016

Mother dearest,

You’re probably reading that line and thinking I’m being passive aggressive and hurtful. That isn’t my intention. When I was younger I called you mother dearest, not knowing what it meant contextually, how would I have? Words and phrases get reused and referenced in popular media all the time. I’d heard the phrase and thought it was a funny teasing way of saying “mom” and when I was frustrated with you it seemed more appropriate. One day you told me to stop because it was a reference to a movie where “a psycho woman tries to kill her kids” and that it hurt you and I felt really bad and I think I was careful not to say it again.

I want you to know, that my trans identity was never meant to hurt you and likewise this restraining order was not requested with the intention of hurting you or unfairly punishing you in some way. I also want you to know that you are dear to me despite all the ways you’ve hurt me and there have been many.

I don’t think you’re abusive because you enforced household rules. I barely remember the times I would get in trouble for lying, stealing, or picking on my brothers, or not behaving as a kind individual. That’s generally when kids need discipline or guiding words to educate them. I recognized that I’d misbehaved and moved on.

I think you’re abusive because most of my memories of you are tainted with backhanded compliments (seemingly kind words laced with insults). Of you constantly critiqueing my body and telling me how I should work harder to change it. I was always too fat. “You look like you’re pregnant.”  Or hairy. (Taking me to get essentially my entire body waxed from age 11-14/15 because I was the hairiest baby you’d ever seen and my body hair was somehow unnatural. I was a kid and would forget to eat before going because we would tend to go right after school and I remember many times feeling faint from hunger and pain) I remember you encouraging me at 16 to spend the money I made from my job on laser hair removal. Which. You know I did do, because all I ever felt about my body was shame back then. Or had too many zits. Or my hair was too short. Or my clothes too androgynous. “You look like a fucking dyke”.

Or I remember your explosive volatile anger that would erupt quite suddenly once you got home from work. If the dishes weren’t clean you’d rage. If shoes were left in the wrong place you’d throw them across the house. I’m fairly certain you broke a window once doing that. But it wasn’t just the cleanliness of the house.

If I defended my dad when you were constantly insulting him about his weight, or his intelligence, or viciously naming him with crudely fashioned insults, you would also get angry with me. Or you’d start to cry.


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