I have some thoughts I’d like to express. I would like to have a relationship with my mother. But before that will be possible, we need to have a little heart to heart. Or at least, my heart to yours.
I know that deep down you are a beautiful person, full of love and empathy and grace. And to top it off you’re smart. But that hasn’t been my experience of you. I’ve seen you putting a mask on, and I don’t know how much of it is just with me, or how much of it is aimed at the world, or at your self. I won’t pretend to really understand what’s closed you off. But know that my experience of you has not always been this distant.
I can say the same of myself at times.
When I was six and they saw me rooted in place at the corner of the playground, daring not to move for fear that the other kids would notice me and laugh at me. In my brain I wasn’t allowed to play with them. In my brain they’d only mock me if I tried. I didn’t know the name of this problem I was having – desperately wanting to be real and vulnerable and hoping to be liked for who I am, but paralysed by fear of the potential for scorn.
When I was in my teens I wrote a poem called “Dear Mother”. I didn’t think it was very good, and honestly I still don’t. I never gave it to you or even let you read it because of a deep-seated fear of judgement or ridicule. And yet this poem won 2nd place in a province-wide poetry contest. I showed you the award. It doesn’t have the name of the poem on it, so when I shared this with you I referenced a completely different poem. One that wasn’t vulnerable or even personal at all.
The non-vulnerable poem about World War II is the one I featured in my old scrapbook because such was the extent of my anxiety. And so the real poem is probably still sitting on an old floppy disk somewhere, a physical representation of these symptoms of social anxiety disorder.
I couldn’t find it so I wrote you a new one.