Bad Dreams – A Letter to My Mother


One of the side effects of Abilify can be unusual dreams.  I am certainly having those..when I sleep at all. (It also can cause insomnia.)  The worst part is while I can’t remember anything about the dreams after a moment or two, the feelings seem to stay with me.  Last night I had an angry and depressing dream.  Then this morning I read a disturbing blog post from a dear sweet woman who is under severe stress and heartbreak.  These things have sort of hit me hard and I feel I need to dispose of some of my guilt and heartbreak.

What follows is a letter to my mother.  You don’t have to read it.  I am selfishly writing this to (hopefully) ease my (misplaced?) guilt.

Dear Momma,

This letter has long been on my mind and I write it only to soothe my own pain and perhaps give you some much needed understanding of me, your sixth born.

As I child I felt I didn’t belong, that I was different from the rest of us kids.  I never understood where that feeling came from completely, but it morphed into a deep seated feeling of being unloved and unwanted.  I was never just me.  I was one of the “little ones” or one of the girls, or one of the kids.  Never an individual with individual needs that never felt met. 

When R wrote her letter to the family back in 1988 it devastated the whole family, including me.  The thing that disturbed me the most was how fast the family turned against her.  I felt certain then, that if the entire family could turn away from her when she obviously was (and still is) delusional.  I understood very quickly that she was receiving terrible therapy, but I also realized she believed what she said.  It hurt me that I never saw anyone reach out to her in anything other than anger.  And anger was received back, which propelled her more deeply into believing what her therapists lead her to believe.

I recently got in touch with her and hoped for a beautiful reunion.  Our first meeting after 20 years was filled with tears and smiles, and then immediately turned into a therapy session about “how much I remembered” about our childhood.  Of course I knew the vast majority of things she believed were recalled memories were nothing more than illusions, bad dreams, bad therapy and a desire to set herself apart from the rest of us.  I tried to push her questions aside saying I didn’t remember anything and didn’t want to. 

She fully still believes all the horrible things she accused you of.  I never did and still don’t.  I know you and daddy did your best to be good parents, just as I hope I have been a good parent.  Kids don’t come with manuals and surrounded by all these different kids needing different things I imagine was terribly hard on you.  Of course it took me this long to realize all of this, but the initial reaction from the rest of my family–the anger toward R–disturbed me more than her letter.  She was the one who told me Daddy had died.  I, of course, did not know, though I had tried to reach out to him shortly before that through email.  When I didn’t receive any support of my current situation from him, it just reinforced the feeling of his not caring about me or my life.   

Did you even know I contacted him?  Sent him photos of your great grandson?  That I was diagnosed with MS?  Did he share that with you?  I tend to think not since he was in his own pain and suffering too great to think too much about me.  Of course he mentioned he was ill, but as he didn’t seem to care about me and my life and asked no questions, I was not inclined to continue the contact, but I was trying.

Did anyone even try to contact me?  I think not.  Did anyone even know that he had my email address at the time of his death?  Again, I figure no one did.  To be omitted from the obituary was, I am sure, Daddy’s request and A honored that (I assume A was the one who wrote it).  I found it unsurprising to be omitted as I knew how Daddy was, but that didn’t make it hurt less.  Instead it again reinforced the sense of never belonging in the family and never feeling wanted or loved.

When that sense of uncaring was passed along to my son, I was angry.  How can you care so little for my child while raving about P’s boy, and how smart he was, how clever, such an exceptional child.  My son was just as exceptional but you never asked about him, never called him on a weekend just to say hi and see how his week went.  The fact that you never made any effort to bond with him hurt me more than you probably realize.  My son also felt your lack of concern or care or love, even from a very young age.  When that feeling was felt by my son, I could not forgive you.

I think I know now that I was loved, but you were too tired or depressed or distracted to show it to me in the way I needed. I think you also cared about my family, but as Daddy never approved of my husband and all I ever heard was criticism over the length of his hair it was less painful not to be in touch.   When you moved to AZ and expected me to take the place of all the rest of the kids, it was too much for me.  I had a life that you had not been a part of for 15 years and suddenly Daddy was calling asking us to visit every weekend.  T worked every Saturday and Sunday was our time.  Daddy’s insistent calls only stressed me out.  Money was tight, and our car was old, we had had our home foreclosed and had to file bankruptcy, and all Daddy wanted was my time.  He never showed he cared about how I felt or what I might want or need.  It was easier for me to just leave the state than face his constant demands and criticisms.

I realize now that Daddy couldn’t act any other way, and neither could you.  At the time you were stuck the way you were and I saw no way to change our dynamic so when we moved back to CA I stopped all contact with everyone though it hurt me everyday to feel so alone.  And when T had an affair, I had no one to support me.  No family to turn to for comfort.  I did it alone with a therapist.  A therapist, when what I wanted and needed was a Mom.

I am truly sorry things have worked out the way they did.  I see no way to ever rectify the situation. I still feel neither you nor my siblings care to be in touch with me now any more than they or you did 20 years ago.  It still hurts me and haunts me.  It has not helped me in my life or my dealings with others.  I will always have a broken heart and a deep black empty hole where family, or the illusion of family, once dwelled.

I wish you nothing but peace and happiness with your family.  I hope you have recovered fully from Daddy’s death and hope your health is good.  I wish things might have been different, but that was all in the past and I can’t change it now. 

I don’t know if this has made me feel any better, but I hope it will, and maybe, just maybe it will help someone else.

9 thoughts on “Bad Dreams – A Letter to My Mother

  1. You got it off your chest and that’s the important thing. That old saying you can’t pick your family. It’s sad you having five siblings and you don’t have anyone close. I hope you, your husband and son find happiness.

  2. I honor this brave letter and deep in my heart I know that it will heal you in ways you might not have known when you wrote it. Thank you for taking this challenge seriously and bringing peace into our world. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

    1. Thank you for commenting. The letter did make a tremendous difference in my life already. I closed the door on that part of my life. I still wonder if I should mail it to my mom, but I don’t see any benefit to her or me.

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