The letters written here follow 11 years after my mother's death. Although a silent peace and forgiveness was reached just days before she died, I still have scars and emotions to deal with from my childhood. As a child, I wasn't allowed to speak to the pain of the abuses -- the pain and hurt, grief, degradation, lack of affirmation, the belief I wasn't worth anything. Had I spoken out, the wrath would have been multiplied. Layer upon layer the scars still run deep. As I write these letters, I hope to find a place of healing.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~~ Maya Angelou

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Learning to Lie

Dear Mama,

I've often wondered if you realized you taught me to lie.  No, it wasn't your intention to do so, but you did.

How you ask?  Simple enough.

Often you would badger me about what you perceived to be the truth of a situation.  Something for which I deserved punishment.  So convinced were you that you knew the truth better than I that you went on and on, sometimes for an hour or more.  I would be reduced to tears begging you to understand it wasn't true.

And yet you just knew you were right!  What made you so sure that you were always right?  How was it that there were never two sides to a story?

This bizarre method of getting to the "truth" began when I was still in grade school, perhaps first or second grade.  It continued into my young adult life.

At some point, around eight years old, I began to realize that if you believed so strongly that you had the truth on your side why should I fight it.  So, I began agreeing with you.

In essence, although I knew the truth, I'd lie to stop your badgering and yelling.  Then, you'd execute punishment -- the belt, a switch, or a spanking with your hand when I was still young -- and you'd be happy!  Life could go on.

Yes, you taught me to lie.  And you weren't the only one I'd lie to.  As Thomas Jefferson said,


The habit grew and grew.  It seemed almost uncontrollable.  Until one day in my early 40s, I was asked by an employer to do something criminal.  I couldn't!  Lying with mild consequences was one thing; criminal action another.  That was the day God finally grasped my heart and my tongue, and in a twinkling He turned me around.

But imagine, Mama, all that time petty lies to get what I wanted, to make a story richer than the next person's, and on it went.  As a mother myself, I wasn't setting a very good example.

The only person I've never lied to is Bob, the love of my life.  He deserved better than that.  His trust in me kept my lies at bay.

The only thing I wish you could tell me is why.  Why did you have to be right?  Why did you have to punish me for something I hadn't done?  Why is the biggest question I have, and it will never be answered now.

Despite it all, at the end of the day I managed to still find love in my heart for you.  And that's the truth!

Loving you each day,

Sherrey




Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Update to Memoir in Progress

Today I have added another entry to my draft memoir, if you care to read and follow it.  Remember, it is a work in progress and therefore very rough indeed.  Entries are dated, so you'll find today's at the top of the page labeled "June 26, 2012 Entry."  The previous entry will be below that (June 22, 2012).

For those of you who have written or are writing your memoir, I'd love to have your feedback.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Happier Times


Dear Mama,

I was looking through photos again and came across a favorite of mine.

A favorite because over time I've learned what effort went into my first recital dress.

Daddy wanted me to take piano lessons, and so he bought me a piano and arranged lessons.  You made sure I arrived at lessons on time, and you made certain I practiced, practiced, practiced!

And then it was time for my first recital!  What's a girl to wear?

Daddy had also bought you a sewing machine.  I had listened to you fuss every time you went near it.  You sounded as if you hated that machine. 

When things didn't go exactly as they should, you went into a rage and said you'd never touch it again.
 
BUT you put your distaste and dislike behind you and bought pink organdy and white lace to make my first recital dress!



I know it wasn't an easy task for you.  If things weren't perfect, you'd get so angry.  (Now I understand where my obsession with perfection comes from!)  Yet, you finished that dress and as this photo shows, even in black and white, you did an outstanding job on it.  I felt grown up the day Daddy took this photo. 

I don't remember what piece I played that night, and I don't remember being nervous.  I do remember feeling so dressed up and proud because you had my dress.

See?  We were capable of good times and making happy memories, weren't we? 

I love you!

Sherrey

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Note to Readers

Attribution
I have added a couple of pages I'd like to call to your attention. 

The first is Memoir in Progress, where I'll be posting excerpts from my draft memoir.  Telling my story is important to me and hopefully to others.  In the draft, there will be other components of my story which will enhance the letters you read in my blog posts.

Also, another page has been added called Writing Resources, where I hope to provide you with some of the tools I've found helpful in my own writing.  Among the lists I hope to compile over the next few days/weeks will be books, blogs and web sites which focus not only on writing but life writing.  If you have always wanted to tell your story, perhaps you'll find a helpful tool.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bath Time Was No Fun!

Dear Mama,

Thinking back I've solved a problem that has carried over into my adult life.  Into my intimate relationship with my husband.  It would have been difficult with any man, but this is the man I love.

Attribution
Bath time created the problem.  Yes, bath time as a little girl. 

You were a woman concerned with cleanliness.  Not just your home, or yourself.  But tantamount to the image of cleanliness were your children.

However, the cleanliness imposed on me, your only girl child, was searing.

Bath time, or so it seems to me as a mom, should have been a time not only of becoming clean but enjoyment.  A time when mamas and their children shared stories of the day, dreams of tomorrow, splashed the water.

But you were always about "teaching" us.  Bath time was when we talked of dirt and things that became or were dirty.

I don't know about the boys and what you talked about with them, but with me it was about a "secret place" that no one was to touch, a dirty place that little girls needed to protect, and you made certain I knew this.

You also made certain this "secret place" was cleansed beyond doubt.  As you bathed me, it was the one place you scrubbed until the pain was searing.  And the pain didn't stop then.  Nights I fell asleep wishing the burn would go away! 

If I asked you to stop, you swatted my legs or behind with the flat palm of your hand.  If I cried about that, you hit some more.  There was nothing I, the child, could do to stop this, except grow old enough to bathe alone.  What a freeing day that was!  Or so I thought.

What had ever happened to you?  Why would you treat me this way?  Why chance ruining my relationships down the road?

Even now, I'm reluctant to allow myself to go to the pinnacle of joy when my husband wants to love me.  I draw back, and he has wondered why.  Finally, I have been able to share with him the why from my perspective.

Yet I still wonder about the why from your perspective.  Oh, I long to talk to you about so many things like this, and now you're gone from me.  My words and feelings have been suppressed so long, but I'm finding myself now.  I can only hope you understand the need for these letters.

Loving you,

Sherrey

Friday, June 15, 2012

When I was about three . . .

Dear Mama,

I was looking through old photos the other day and came across this one. 

Looking at myself, I suddenly remembered not just the fear I felt that day but I remembered you laughing at me.

You wanted to take my picture -- I was afraid of a butterfly that kept flitting around my head.

But you persisted, and I wanted to yell at you, "Stop it!  I don't like it!  Make me feel better."

Instead of putting down the camera and enveloping me in your arms, you laughed at me.

Laughed at my fear.

Laughed at my tears.

Made me feel like I wasn't worthy of being cared for.

I suppose you never stopped to wonder what I might feel about your actions.  After all, I was only a child.  Likely incapable of feeling very much, at least in your mind.

Oh, I know I sound angry!  I was, and I am right now.  Fear is real, no matter the age.  Fear requires compassion and a sense of protection.  I got neither that day.

I'm not telling you this painful story to seek revenge or to be the mean daughter.  The child in the photo wasn't allowed to express herself other than through her tears.  Today she is grown and by writing my feelings down and sharing them in this way, I hope to heal this first scar I remember.

Still written with love,

Sherrey

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Beginning

Dear Mama:

Sometimes I find it hard to believe you've been gone almost 11 years.  Harder yet to believe, I miss you.  I never thought I'd miss you.  That sounds harsh but surely you knew that I didn't like you.

Oh, it wasn't that I didn't love you because I did -- you were and are my mother.  I just didn't like you the person.

I suppose you wonder what I mean.  Well, it's hard to put into words.  You did things to us, my brothers and me.  Things that hurt deep down inside.  Left scars that no one can see but us.  And when you did those things, I intentionally moved myself as far from you as possible.

I would have liked to have talked to you about these things but children don't really have a voice in early childhood.  Even as an adolescent and a teen, you were never open to sharing our feelings unless in a fit of anger.  And then you dominated with screaming and yelling.

This is hard to read, I know.  I wish it had all been said sooner but the time was just never right.


Mama - April 1958


I am thankful for the peace and grace you and I found the last ten months of your life in Oregon.  God gifted us with a very special experience in those few months.  And I think I know why.  But more about that in another letter.

I'll write again soon and I'll try to explain the purpose of my letters now, instead of then.

Just know for now that not only do I love you -- I honor and respect you far more than I ever thought imaginable.  I want to share with you how I got to that point.

With love,

Sherrey


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