The following letter was given to me last year from my 27 yr. old youngest son…
Mom. It’s a gift you’ve given me, to have overcome the hooks that trauma has left in your psyche, to have raised two sons in a loving environment in spite of everything you had experienced. You had never known a loving, protective environment, so how did you manage to provide one? The answer, I know, is: with great effort. Constant discipline. With tears, and with therapy, and with Samuel’s patient spirit supporting you.
You’ve come so far. To be able to write about trauma, and put your real name to it. What a brave and honest act, a defiant stand against the silence you endured so long.
Raising children – creating people from scratch – is a daunting task for anyone, even the healthiest, happiest people in the best of circumstances. You did not have the advantage of carefree happiness, the stability that comes with a healthy childhood. You did not start with that most fundamental of human capacities – the understanding that you are loved, that you are worthy of love. You were betrayed, your ability to trust shattered. Yet you knew how to accept the implicit trust of two growing children who depended on you for everything, and to never let them down. So that we would never struggle with trusting good, honest people. We were shown from the very beginning that we could count on you and Dad, all day every day. That is the foundation for a healthy life – the ability to love and trust without reservation. That is the basis for the confidence and tranquility I have in navigating the world. I wish everyone could be so lucky.
I recognize the monumental accomplishment it was for you to be a successful mother, fostering a positive, healthy environment while battling the darkness inside. What a task you set for yourself, quieting your rage while building two human beings from scratch, careful not to pass on these emotions, these struggles, to growing minds. And with what courage and determination you took to it. In spite of everything, mountains of obstacles hiding in the darkness within you, you prevailed. We do not fight the battles that you fight; we do not share your reservations about connecting with human beings. We love and we trust and we are quick to laugh, all because you stood above the darkness. You broke the cycle.
And here I am, and that’s why I am. That’s why I bring empathy to other people. That’s the gift you gave me – a knack for reading the hearts of troubled people.
It’s amazing, how people will pour their hearts out if they can find a single willing receptacle, one outlet; one listener. People are dying to get things off their chests, and I can read it in their expressions, in their habits. No one asks them what’s really going on inside. But I ask. When I offer people a non-judgmental ear, the floodgates open. Finally, says the pained expression on their faces. Finally someone will listen to me about all this shit I’m carrying around day after day after day.
So thank you, for this deep sense of empathy and connection that binds me to other people.
I love you.