Dear Mom,

Thank you for teaching me about the kind of mother that I do not want to be. We are approaching the end of your prison sentence. I have not seen you or talked to you in two years. I have received one letter from you. I didn’t write back though. It’s because I didn’t have anything to say. The last time we spoke you asked me to Western Union fifty dollars to you so you would have gas money to get to work. I should have known it was for something else. I found out later that you had also asked my little brother for money and he gave it to you as well. Never again.

I need to go back to the beginning and get it all out there. Then maybe I can walk along the path to forgiveness. When I was young you told me to tell my Dad that we were going to trade him in for a new Daddy. Why would you have me tell him that? I didn’t know any better. It must have killed him to hear me say something like that. When I was six years old before you and Dad got divorced, I remember the fighting. Dad would tell us to go outside for a few minutes, but we could still hear y’all yelling. Once I even saw a tear in Dad’s eye. I found out later it is because you were trading sex for beer with an eighteen year-old guy when you were twenty-six. You cheated on my Dad! I hate you for that. I knew Dad was leaving and wouldn’t be back when he took his suitcase AND his golf clubs.

You had joint custody of us. We would visit Dad every other weekend, and for Christmas Day. Dad called us every Wednesday without fail. For a few years things were okay. I know we didn’t have a lot of money, but we were okay.Things didn’t get bad until you started dating again. I remember when we were out in public you told me to tell people we were sisters.

We had met Ron a few times, had been to his house for dinner. I thought he was a nice guy, but he was just trying to make a good impression. He wasn’t ready to be a stepfather to three kids. We didn’t even know you were engaged. We came back from a weekend at Dad’s and the two of you were married. That was a huge WTF moment for me. I was nine years old. You let my youngest brother believe Ron was his father.

You were married to him for a couple of years. He drank a case of beer himself every single night. He had the worst temper ever. He scared us kids a lot of the time. Once when we weren’t moving fast enough to get in the car, he closed the door when I wasn’t all the way in on my arm. I can’t remember all the details about him, they get fuzzy. I just know I was really scared of this man all the time. At one point I had to tell you that it was him or us. Thankfully y’all ended up divorcing, but I still don’t know how or why.

I got my tonsils taken out shortly after this. The night before my surgery we stayed over at a friend’s house for a birthday party. You went out drinking. You ended up driving your car off the road and wrecking it. The next day Ron stayed over. I didn’t even know he was there until I woke up the next day. I was so out of it from the surgery. You told me it was because I asked him to stay.

You and Ron didn’t end up back together, but he stayed over occasionally. You were also seeing a man named Danny that worked for Budweiser. He was also married. Several times you stayed out all night, leaving me to take care of my younger brothers by myself at just eleven years old. I was responsible for their dinner, breakfast, and getting on the bus to school. If we missed the bus, we didn’t go to school.

One time you and Danny took us to the lake along with Danny’s son. We were playing in the water and the two of you just disappeared. I walked around until I found you. Both of you coming out of the bathroom together. Don’t act like I didn’t know what was going on. This started an argument between us where you told me you were an adult and whatever you did privately was your business.

When you weren’t home at night, and sometimes when you were, I slept on the couch. Since I had been sleeping on the couch for a while you decided to get a roommate to help with the rent and use my room since I wasn’t using it. You had three different people in and out of there. One was a guy we didn’t know. You frequently left us alone with him. He smoked pot.

One time you told my brother and I you would take us to a movie. We got in the car and drove downtown. You said for my brother and I to wait in the car for a few minutes while you went in somewhere. It was a strip club. What the hell were you doing in there? Why did you have us wait in the car? Did you work there? So many things wrong with this situation.

You started dating a man named Tim. His family was nice. He had a good job and a nice car. We were still getting to know this man. He also had an explosive temper. Ron never beat you up, but Tim did. Usually his temper didn’t cross over to us, it was all on you. Until one day. My brothers and I had gotten off the school bus in the afternoon. We had gotten home and didn’t know he was there. We also didn’t know he was sleeping in your room. When we came in we were being loud and rambunctious. You weren’t even there. He came out of your bedroom yelling and slamming things around, scaring us to death. We thought he was going to hurt us. We ran outside, and I called Dad to come and get us.

Dad came and got us, we stayed with him. It was around Christmas. My youngest brother is the only one who went over for Christmas. This is when the custody battle started. My brother and I had to testify against you. It was one of the worst days of my life. I still loved you, but I knew we would be better off staying with Dad. I am sorry for the way things happened, but I am not sorry for making this decision. The judge ruled that Dad had primary custody. At this time we relied heavily on my grandparents, and our church congregation to get us through. Dad is my hero.

We still came to visit you every other weekend. Honestly we hated it. Tim always scared us. There was one time in particular that he scared us so much, I called Dad to come and get us. Dad also called the police. When the police showed up, y’all acted like nothing ever happened.

My brothers and I got baptized at church. We invited you to come because it was important to us. You didn’t. It hurt our feelings, but we understood. You talked bad about Dad every time we came over. That hurt our feelings too. Dad never talked bad about you, he always had us pray for you. He even told me that I should always work to have a relationship with you. I tried so hard mom. You just didn’t want to.

This was evident when you and Tim decided to move to Florida. This meant we wouldn’t be visiting every other weekend. It was honestly a relief. You hardly ever called us. You just abandoned us. At first it was hard. Then it got easier to just put you out of my mind. I don’t see how you could just leave us like that. I now know it is because you were running from the law. You had stolen money from your workplace. The charges were dropped.

From the time I was thirteen until I was seventeen we only talked a few times on the phone, and we only visited a couple of times. I was seventeen when you moved back to Tennessee. You wanted to resume every other weekend visits. We were not thrilled about it, but at Dad’s urging we decided to give it a try. It was at the first weekend visit that we had told you and Tim about our plans to go with our family to Disney World for Christmas that year.

Tim said we would see about that. He said y’all were supposed to get us for Christmas Day according to court documents. This was true, but seeing as we hadn’t done this for four years, we figured we weren’t doing it anymore. I think the true reason behind this was to try and get back at Dad. But in the end, it was only hurting us kids, we had looked forward to this trip for some time. Dad went back to his lawyer. The judge ruled that we would be able to go to Disney World for Christmas.

It was after this that it was our decision whether we would like to continue visitation. Dad said we should, but none of us wanted to. We were already used to you not being there. I invited you to my high school graduation. I hoped you would be there. You weren’t. You did leave a card in my mailbox and drive off without saying anything to me. The next day I came by to see you. Shortly after this you decided to leave Tim for beating you up all the time.

I rarely saw you, even though we lived close to one another. It wasn’t until you moved into the house across the street from your mom. I was visiting you a lot more, a last-ditch effort to try and save our relationship. I liked visiting you, I always had a good time. I felt like we were getting to know each other again. You were the witness at my courthouse wedding. (We always intended to have a vow renewal in a church where everyone could be there)

Since we got married on Cinco de Mayo, we had a party that evening. I invited you to come out to our apartment, since you had never seen it. We were having a good time. Hubs had a friend from his work show up at our place. This friend was 19 years old. You were forty-one. That didn’t stop you. The fact that he was my husband’s friend should have stopped you. You got into a relationship with this man. This was very strange for me, and I did not approve. You don’t have to get my permission, but it was very hard for me to get past this.

The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was when we came over for dinner one night. We were all sitting outside having a nice time when you went behind the house with another guest. When you came back, the air smelled like marijuana. You know that I don’t do drugs, or associate myself with anyone that does. I guess that’s why you went behind the house. I got up from my chair and walked across the street to your mom’s house to visit with her. I was so angry at you. You came across the street and said not to be mad at you. I told you I wasn’t, but I really really was.This was the undoing of the very fragile relationship we had for a short time. I saw you less and less after this.

Come to find out, you did want help. You checked into a mental health facility. When you got out you were doing so much better for a while. You were working, you were living in a nice house. I am not sure if you were doing drugs. Things started to go downhill when you started seeing a man you met while you were in the hospital.

This man lived with his parents, and you moved in with them too. None of you had a job, y’all lived off of disability and social security. All you did was drink and do a bunch of drugs. This man had been  hitting you and verbally abusing you. I have only met this man one time, but that’s all it took. I don’t like him, and if he beats you up, he is not the man for you. You always say he is fine when he is not high. Why do you think you deserve to be hit by a man? You don’t. You needed to get yourself together, and stop doing drugs.

It was around this time that you got arrested. The reason you came back to Tennessee was because you stole money from your job in Florida, so you were running from the law yet again. This time though, the charges were not dropped. You were released on probation. I saw you once during this time. Your speech was slurred, and you kept shaking your legs. You looked like you were coming down from something. I hated it. You didn’t look or act like my mom. I can’t stand to see that person, I just want my mom back. It hurt me so bad.

You decided for some reason it would be a good idea to run from the law once again by going to Ohio with your abusive boyfriend. You skipped out on your probation officer. This is when you were arrested again. You have been in prison in Florida ever since.This is why I haven’t written to you in jail. I stopped letting you hurt me. It will take a lot for me to let you in again, and you have to make the first move.

Your release is coming up. I think if we are to ever have a relationship, you will need to get yourself together. You need to stop doing drugs, stop dating men that hit you, get a job, go to church, and love yourself first. You can’t love anyone else until you love yourself. I wish that my brothers and I were enough for you, but we aren’t. You have to want to change. I hope with all my heart that I get to see this happen.



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