Blogging Prompt: What is your greatest regret and why?
Song Prompt: “New Divide” – Linkin Park
Lyric Quote: In every loss/in every lie/in every truth that you denied/in each regret/and each divide/was a mistake too great to hide
Biggest regret. What a powerful blog prompt for me today.
Because when you’re stuck in depression, all you’re surrounded with is a view of your mistakes, your failures…your regrets. To pick one is very difficult. And what kind of regrets are we talking about here? The ones over which we had no control, or the biggest mistakes that still haunt us with their ramifications? I have many, many regrets, and they fall under both categories.
But there is one. One I had no control over. One that has echoed down the timeline of my life, like an everlasting ripple.
Growing up as the daughter of two awesome people who weren’t that awesome together was not easy on me. By 5, I’d called multiple places ‘home’. There are 5 that I can recall. When I was 5, my paternal grandparents gave me the greatest gift that a little girl in my situation could have: a stable home where I didn’t have to witness, or be subjected to, any violence or…badness. My mom and dad never laid a hand on me, though others did, and I watched others injure my parents. My grandparents were awarded full custody of me, and my mom and dad alternated weekends.
I never felt like part of the families that resided in the households I visited on the weekends. They were almost like strangers to me, especially since each household had a sibling in them. As an emotional defense, I separated the man and woman from me…but only partially. I craved the feeling of ‘family’ that I got during the week at home with my grandparents. Looking back, I know they tried, and when I do concentrate on it, I am flooded with many, many happy memories. I don’t hold any of those distant feelings against them, and this post is in NO WAY a reflection of their character, because they’re both really good, awesome people. I should also say that I won’t tolerate any harsh judgement of any of the adults in my life. Mistakes were made, sh** happens. We dealt the best we could, and moved past it. If I have forgiven and moved on, you have no right to tell me I shouldn’t have.
There was one major trauma that has had a lasting impact on me, despite my efforts to move past it. This…happening, for lack of a better term, occurred at an early age, such that those events comprise some of my first memories. Unlike a typical child who forgets as time passes, these memories have unfortunately stayed. I was molested by someone close to me. I will not say who, but it was not my dad or an uncle. I refuse to specify further because to do so would hurt that garbage’s offspring, who I was very close to, and it would harm his family, who loved and protected me to the best of their ability. He may not deserve anonymity, but those people (a few of whom I am still in touch with and love dearly) do deserve to not be associated with that scum’s actions.
I ended up being removed from the situation, and my child’s mind locked the horrible memories away in a far, dark corner of my mind. I carried on with my new life at my grandparents’ house. I adjusted as best I could…until I hit puberty. I was about 12 or 13 when the memories began to surface. They weren’t much, just snapshots…but it was enough. I questioned the adults in my life. My grandmother told me I’d been watching too many movies. My mother outright denied it ever happened. My dad would never answer my questions, instead deflecting the responsibility of answering them right back onto my mother.
It was a conversation with my mother’s mother, my beloved Nan-nan, that gave me the answers I needed, even though she never actually outright told me what happened.
And I didn’t need to hear any more. I had what I needed…it had happened, and I wasn’t crazy. Over time, anger built. Towards my grandmother, for telling me I watched too many movies, to my father, for deflecting me back to my mother…but most of all, I hated my mother. In my mind, she had allowed it to happen, and worst of all, she denied it. She did not know what happened when it was happening, but after I was removed, she continued her association with him. He abused her. I need to say that, because while I know in my heart what I would do in such a situation, as alike as my mom and I are, I can’t say what she would have done. I don’t know if he threatened her, and I don’t care to know. I was removed and it never happened to me at his hands again. Knowing if he threatened her to continue her association with him would help nothing, and would probably rip open a lot of wounds that are just better off left sealed shut.
This anger and animosity lasted well into my late teens, when I was told that my abuser had abused her as well, and she had felt powerless to do anything to stop it. Having been in an abusive relationship at the time, I understood the fear that went along with getting beaten. And I accepted it. We began to patch things up, but then something happened to throw the peace and reconciliation in a pit, pour gasoline on it, and set it ablaze…
I had a baby.
The second she was placed on my belly, the anger roared to life in the back of my mind. I remember thinking: I don’t care what she says. Let me find out that someone that close to me harmed my daughter. I’d call the cops as I pulled up and tell them, “I’m here, and you’d better hope you get here before I get to the door, because I’ll kill him”. Let him be beating me, I don’t care. I’d die to spare this child. I would die before I complacently allowed someone to even THINK of laying one finger on my baby with malicious intent.
That anger, along with anger over a situation that had been handled in what was maybe not the best way, simmered, led to a complete divide. The chasm yawned wide between us. I lashed out at her various times over the next three years, alternating between the scathing, scornful anger of the mother in me, and the tearful begging and pleading of the little girl locked within me that just wanted her mommy to make everything okay again.
But after the death of my stepfather, I realized something. My mom could apologize until the cows came home for what boiled down to a colossally stupid mistake that held horrific and lasting ramifications for me. She could say she was the wrongest of the wrong, the dumbest of the dumb, she could have completely devalued herself to me and it wouldn’t have fixed a damn thing. It wouldn’t have made the abuse vanish, it wouldn’t have undone that vile being’s sins against me. In short? It wouldn’t have made anything right or different, and it wouldn’t have made me feel better. My mom is a good woman, who very rarely made a decision out of malicious intent. Her intentions were always good.
Because I knew this: As a mother myself, who had made colossally stupid mistakes that thankfully never affected my child, I knew that at the core, my mother had royally screwed up. But in spite of the consequences of her choice, or maybe because of them, I’d grown up in a loving, stable home, all my wants and needs met by two people who gave me what my parents, at the time, could not…a home full of unconditional love, stability, and most of all, devoid of drama and dysfunction. No matter how often I screwed up (and I screwed up pretty big at times), they still loved me…still love me to this day. Despite the consequences of her inaction at the time, or maybe because of it, I am stronger today.
Do I still wish it hadn’t happened? You bet your sweet arse I do.
My mother and I made our peace. She took my anger without denying it or minimizing it, she withstood my tears without attempting to comfortingly silence them. She inherently knew that she could not make it right, she couldn’t undo it, and because she could do neither, that I deserved to sit in front of her, so to speak, and let it all out without any interference from her. I hate when my kids cry. I try to make it better…she must have felt awful to see how deeply this had affected me, and for how long it haunted me.
I’m not going to lie, sometimes I feel that anger again. The past week, I’ve been plagued by nightmares, some have been about what happened to me as a young child. I thought having the ‘picture’-like memories was bad…it has been nothing compared to reliving it. I haven’t really talked to her since the nightmares began, and it isn’t because of the anger. Nothing will undo the damage it’s rained on me over the years. But my mother and I have stitched up the chasm between us, and I have lost too many years with her to the anger. I will do nothing to rip those stitches out, even if it means I have to wait to talk to my mother until I can douse the flames of my anger. I don’t want that anger to boil over and destroy me again, so I will give it no voice where I can’t trust it to stay down. I can’t trust myself in depression to not say something I’ll regret later, and the anger would only loosen my tongue further.
My mom knows the full impact of living with something like that. God knows I’ve screamed enough at her, typed enough in all caps to her, cried enough oceans of sorrow, regret, and misery over it to her. Consciously I am not mad at my mom, haven’t been in a long time. I love my mom, I’m glad we were able to mend things.
I’ve paid enough over the years to satisfy any debt…and so has she. My biggest regret is that I didn’t come to the conclusion years ago that nothing could ‘fix’ what happened to me. Nothing would have. I did the right thing by coping the best I could, and eventually moving past it. And that is something I should never regret.