“Bless the daughters who sat carrying the trauma of mothers. Who sat asking for more love and not getting any, carried themselves to light. Bless the daughters who raised themselves.” ~Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo
“I failed you…”
My mother said this to me after I confronted her about my childhood.
That day, I had a clear image of the young girl I was, the girl I had tried to ignore in the hopes of moving forward. But pain shouts when it demands attention, and the suffering was palpable.
A memory flashed within my mind. I had tried telling my mother I was hurting somehow. All children have hurt they can’t quite explain, even if turns out that it’s just an itch or a bruised feeling, but the need to have the boo boo kissed means everything to the child.
That day I had found my mother occupied with something more pressing. And I, being the sensitive girl I was, figured that she hadn’t heard me, or that I had disturbed her.
It seemed that I only existed to be cautious of the adults in my life who at best were preoccupied with a mysterious something and at worst cruel without reason. I existed in a world where children were things you spoke to. Tell them what to do and they’ll simply do it, because what else are they there for?
The idea that children had inner lives, breakable hearts, and ideas of their own making was quite dangerous in my childhood. I’d soon learn that it was better to take a vow of silence and say very little. I was starved for the hunger all children have—the hunger to be seen.
Love requires attention.
It seems like the older we get, the more we have to reflect on those days when we were at our most vulnerable. We have to look back at the beliefs, habits, and people that shape us if we want to grow.
When I finally talked to my mother, I was attempting to grow out of a destructive habit I had learned in childhood: denial. If you don’t talk about a thing, or name a thing, then maybe the thing never happened. Perhaps it wasn’t that bad, or maybe yet it was just a dream.
I was no longer talking as a child in need of her mother’s attention, I was talking as a woman in need of the truth. I was now an adult who hoped to be a mother someday, and a healer committed to breaking the generational curse of mothers failing daughters, women failing women, and humans failing themselves.
I poured out the heart of that little girl over the phone. She had needed protection when she was called names, or when…