Thursday, February 16, 2012

Confessions in Words and in Silence

I am 35 years old.  I am ready to hear from my mother the one thing I have needed to know but have just not been strong enough to shoulder.  I am holding the phone to my ear in this moment of silence as she searches herself for a way to answer.  She can't lie to me anymore since we found a way to be a mother and daughter again.  We have worked hard at our relationship since my daughter was born and since, perhaps, she had her own spiritual awakening that jettisoned her into a place of righteousness.  I know she will answer to her negligence.  Did she know what he was doing to me?

Her sigh is shaky through the phone as she surrenders any last desire to bend the truth.  I know that what I am about to hear will open old wounds.  I am nervous too. 

Yes, she knew.  She had proof long before she read my journal when I was thirteen years old.  When I was in sixth grade she had had a "funny" feeling about how much time my step father had been spending in his office which was adjacent to my bedroom.  She had had that same "funny" feeling the day he had installed a bunch of mirrors in my room as gifts.  She had gone to his office while he was out one day and went right to the framed photo that covered an nickel-sized hole that bore straight through to my room- covered by an antique mirror on my side.  When she looked through that hole she saw that he had arrananged the mirrors in such a way that there was not an inch of my room that could not be seen.   She knew there was something deranged about that.  She had been angry with him.  She told him to fill the hole and paint over it and never brought it up again.

I ask my mother to fill in the blanks of this story.  I thought I held all of the memories.  I thought I had at least had part-time possession of my room as a kid.  My mother says there is nothing else to the story.  There is no talk of what she said and what he said next.  Nothing about how maybe she had thought at the time that she should make him go.  She is sorry now, so very sorry.  She should have done something, but she just didn't have the strength.  She just distanced herself from him more.  Did she know how much that drove him to me all the more?  Did she know that when she wasn't acting like a loving wife, I was made to fill that role? 

I ask her how she couldn't have known earlier on.  Her end is silent.  I cannot bear to hear it any more than she can bear to say it.  I hang up the phone. What can I do but to forgive her? I asked and she told the brutal truth with her words and again with her silence.


  1. Thank you for sharing the anatomy of healing, Cairn. Your mother is fortunate both that you survived such abuse, and that you have been able to help her by your strength and grace.

  2. Thank you Chapin. It is amazing how things evolve. Sometimes things happen just the opposite of how one would think and i am glad, in this case, for that.