Good morning from the study of my house,
It is a beautiful morning and I am here in the quietness and the solitude with the sun shining in the windows. I do hope to get some things accomplished today. I want to finish moving my office. I got a lot done yesterday and should finish most everything today. I was fortunate to have a couple people help yesterday so I did not have to move everything down the hall by myself. I do appreciate when people are willing to help out of the goodness of their hearts and not out of some sense of obligation. That actually gets back to my last post about freedom.
I have promised that I would write an entry to my mother. I thought about waiting until the first week of August, but I think I will do it today. It is hard to believe that she passed away 25 years ago on that early August day. What I do remember about that day most vividly is that my father signed the necessary documents to remove her from life-support (she had been on a ventilator for about 48 hours) and I remember thinking he had spent 2/3s of his life with her. He could not stand to watch her struggle after that removal, so we left the room for a cup of coffee. My younger sister chose to stay with her. When we returned in 10 or 15 minutes, she had passed away. It also makes me wonder about the reality of being the only one of that family still alive. Not what I expected, not that I know what I expected to be honest, but I am pretty sure it was not where everything is at this moment.
For many years, to be honest, I either feared or despised my mother. She was not a happy person, for many understandable reasons, but it made life difficult. That relationship has also caused me to mistrust women in general. That is a hard admission for me to make and one that I have realized from time to time, but probably never really deal with. That is why I probably struggle with some situations now. I have learned that it is easiest to be around females with whom there is no chance for a relationship. It is safer. I am still not sure what I am thinking or feeling. However, I do know now, in terms of my mother, I am not angry or bitter at her. If I feel something, and when I dig deep, I know I do feel, I think I am mostly sad or melancholy. However, I did promise to write this blog, so here is my honest and somewhat-frightened attempt.
I wonder what you would think of where I am now? I wonder if we would even be speaking since the last three years of your life we tolerated each other at best? I wonder if you would still believe I came to your house at the amazing age of 4 to cause you trouble and pain? I wonder if you struggle with the fact that the last words you uttered were angry words at the person who spent 2/3s of his life with you? I understand he was not perfect in this situation either, but I think he struggled with how to love you when you were so angry all of the time.
If you are able to watch, did you see my response to the conversation I had with Mr. Galán, which ironically occurred on Father’s Day, and what he said that God had told him about you and how you hurt and why you hurt? He actually made me think about and look at you in a new light. As you know, we both cried that morning. I do know that growing up I think we were pretty strapped and you did most of what you did as a single parent. I did not realize how hard that must have been, particularly, if dad worked out of town because he had spoken up to the union BA. You were collateral damage and so were we. All I knew is that it was frightening to be there with you alone because you were not happy. I am sorry I could not see your side of things.
I know you worked hard to hold things together. Between coupons and sewing our clothes, from making sure we had private music lessons to allowing us to participate in Sioux City Community Theatre and the Sioux City Children’s Choir, we had opportunities that not every child had, and for that I am forever grateful. As you know, I do know my real mother, but that has not been a positive experience either, and I have little to do with my real siblings. I wonder where the second sister might be. Maybe that is something I should work on pretty soon.
I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be a single parent with an infant when you first had Sharon Kay and then tragically lost her, regardless the truth of whatever happened, as you know, there were stories. I cannot imagine losing a second child and then, at 25, being told you would never have children, especially in the middle of the baby-boomer generation. I do know that you worked hard to make sure things around the home were neat and taken care of, and I know that we were all part of that with our daily chores. I know that as I grew you struggled with my relationship with Grandma and I know that you probably feared her because she had been Kris’s and my mother at one point. She was an amazing lady; perhaps the only one I have ever completely trusted. I do think she hoped good things for all of us, and would include you. I know she understood out situation well and she hurt because of it.
Much like a 3rd step, let me offer some things that really caused me hurt and influenced how I reacted and responded to you. I remember being sick and at home on the couch (this was actually in the 900 LaPlante House) and I had an accident because of the flu. You whipped me for that, probably because I was afraid to tell you about the accident and I might have lied when you asked. I had welts from that whipping. Is this too much to tell in a blog, I am not sure? I remember when Dad had the heart attack and I was staying at Grandma’s house that summer because I worked two jobs. You called her and told her to keep me because you did not want me (at least that is how it was relayed to me) and then when I found out about the heart attack and Dad being in the hospital, you told me it was all my fault. I was 16 and that frightened me beyond words. It also hurt me. I remember coming home from college and, indeed, my hair was long and I had a beard. You told me, in front of people at church, that I was ugly. I was embarrassed and hurt. That created a confrontation at lunch that day and I lost my temper. I am sorry for that. In fact, you were the only person on whom I ever lost my temper growing up. Again, I am sorry. I responded out of hurt and what I know is while I do not lose my temper often now, it is usually because I have been hurt by someone, and that someone, whoever it is, is someone for whom I have great care. I remember the scene after Susan was hurt by your actions and I stuck up for her. Again, I apologize for my not handling it better. Perhaps the thing I remember most was your telling me that you believed that Kris and I came to your house to only create trouble. We were 3 and 4 years old. As I said then, and would even now, we did not understand why we had to come to a new house. We did not understand the new rules or expectations. I am sure you did not anticipate the difference having two new people in the house would create or that you would be doing it most of the time on your own. I think it must have been really tough and overwhelming. What I want you to know about the things I have just mentioned is that I forgive you. I hope from wherever you are you might forgive me.
I wish that circumstances would have been better for you. I wish you might have had a situation where you knew you were loved and cared for. I think that Dad loved you, but he did not like you very much. I have thought about that often because I never really saw any signs of real affection for you. In fact, I have said at times, I think he was abusive in a sort of neglectful way. Sure, he worked hard and you had money to pay the bills, but I do not think you had a partner in that marriage. That had to be terrifically difficult. You were also put in the place of having to always be the disciplinarian, and face it, that is neither enjoyable or appreciated from those receiving the discipline. What I have been pushed to realize is that you wanted people to love you and care for you, but no one really did. I am so sorry for that. If I could offer anything to you now it is simply this. Thank you for all you did to try to parent us. Thank you for the opportunities you gave us, often going without yourself. Thank you for never really giving up on us. Please forgive me for the times I hurt you, ignored you, and mistreated you. I wonder what you would tell me now? I wonder what you have told Bob or Dad or Kris? Do you see them wherever you all are? Are you waiting for the last one of the family to get there? I am trying to write through the tears at this point. Please know that I am still glad I grew up in the Martin house. Please know that I forgive you and I am not angry for anything. I am working through those difficulties yet today. Sometimes I do pretty well and sometimes I do not.
As you know I have two somewhat surrogate children now. It has been a growing experience and I am learning every day. I just want to do it well. No, more accurately, I want to do it perfectly. I know that is not reasonable, but they are both such amazing people. Jordan is kind and caring. He is handsome and loves his family deeply. I have learned so much from the Galán family in that way. Melissa is fiercely independent, to the point of my consternation at times, but she too is compassionate and caring. She is as beautiful as Jordan is handsome. I have learned so much from watching the two of them. As you can probably tell, I love them both deeply. In someways, I am like you, never allowed to have my own children (in my case, at all), did you worry about being a parent? I was afraid I would fail as a parent. I guess I do even as a surrogate, but I pick myself up and I keep trying.
I guess I hope you know that I am grateful and I hope you know that I really hope that you have found some sense of peace.
Thank you for listening to me and I do love you.
To everyone else, thanks for reading.
4 thoughts on “Wondering what she really thinks?”
Thanks Michael for this lovely letter. i know that it will touch many lives.
Beautiful and brave. Thanks for taking the risk.
You have been through so much and yet continue to inspire others. Thanks for that.
Good afternoon from the bunk room of my EMS job as I work a sixteen-hour shift,
I would like to begin by saying thank you. Thank you for sharing your honesty and vulnerability throughout this blog. Being able to catch a glimpse into your childhood here was eye-opening, especially coming from someone who relates. I don’t relate – but I do, simultaneously.
I grew up in an abusive household, with my father being the main, physical abuser. Liquor bottles became clenched fists, and my mother, brother and I were collateral damage. My mother and I didn’t get along, and we had an emotionally abusive relationship. I never hit my father or my mother, but the emotional abuse was in part my fault too. My mother was the kind of mother I considered a friend. She wasn’t disciplinary, and she was seen as the “cool mom” to all of my friends. Sounds like I had it made with her, right? Well, it seems like a great idea on the outside. But, as a growing child and teenager (I’d consider that a child too), I needed guidance. I needed wisdom. I craved “tough love,” and I craved the dreaded mother-daughter lectures that all the girls in my class feared.
I am going to make an assumption and say that these revelations occurred to you after your mother had already passed away. Fortunately for me, through my struggles with my mental health, I was able to experience outpatient therapy. I’ll dig a little deeper into that while I’m at it, and I’ll add my own vulnerability to this blog.
I’ve always had mental tolls, and I am not sure if the pandemic isolation exacerbated how I was feeling, but all these raw emotions came to the surface during the summer prior to my junior year of high school. At one point, I had checked myself into the psychiatric unit at my local hospital. I talked to so many incredible people that offered me more grace and kindness than I was ever used to. We decided together that outpatient therapy was the way to go – and that’s where I went.
My first therapist was awful. She was the, “I’m sorry that happened to you, that must have been rough,” kind of therapist. I gave her vulnerability, and she provided me with pity and nothing further in return. My second therapist, Annie, was phenomenal. We made so much progress together, and I loved being able to open up to her. Unfortunately, when my mother got a new job, I was unable to see Annie because the insurance wouldn’t cover it (she lacked the credentials that they needed, apparently).
After Annie, I remember telling the practice that I didn’t want a man as my therapist. I wasn’t comfortable talking with men after all my father had put us through growing up. A few days later, I received a call from my new therapist – his name was Jacob. I was lenient, but I decided to give it my best shot. I didn’t communicate my emotions with him very well, and I even signed over my medical records to my aunt, Jenny, (who is also a therapist). I would tell her what I needed Jacob to know.
I stopped seeing Jacob after about six months. I bounced between a few more, but I am settled with Jess. Jess is Annie’s cousin, coincidentally, and she is just as phenomenal as Annie. However, the point of the story is that there’s one thing that Jacob told me in specific that just stuck.
“Chloe, your mother went through it too.” – He was referring to the abuse of my father. After digging a little deeper, I realized that my mother was probably hurting more than my brother and I were.
As I mentioned, I was in outpatient therapy when my perspective changed. My mother was (and still is) alive and healthy, thankfully. I wrote my mother a letter too – and I shared it with her. I’ll include it here.
“Hi, Mama. I’m not always the best at expressing things in person, so I hope this will do. I’ve picked up on the fact that your mental health isn’t great. I want you to know that it’s okay to talk about how you feel, and if there’s anything I can do to help you with that, I will. I just want you to be happy. I know you blame yourself for a lot of things that happened to us, but I need you to know that I don’t.
Growing up for Eli and I certainly wasn’t easy, and most, if not all, is attributed to Dad. I didn’t always feel emotionally connected to you, but that is something that can be fixed. It isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and it takes a lot of time, effort, and patience, but it’s all worth it if it means I get to have a healthy relationship with my mama. I don’t want to live without one real parent. But everything Dad put us through is irreversible. You can forgive, but you cannot forget. I don’t think he’s done anything to earn my forgivingness, and frankly, I know I am not missing out one bit.
I don’t blame you for the absence of emotion I felt towards you. I know it wasn’t your fault. You grew up in a household without it too – I’m sure Grandma tried her best, but I also know living with Grandpa couldn’t have been easy. I have no doubt that you lacked the emotional connection with him too.
I’ve realized that when something is all you know, you’re bound to repeat it. That’s why I have had toxic relationships with others and seek male validation. I’m used to thinking that relationships are about fighting and chaos – I find validation in men because I never felt accepted by Dad. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that you went through everything Dad put us through too. It wasn’t just Eli and me. He put you through the heartache and suffering too. If anything, I think you had it worse; sometimes I don’t know how you made it out so strong.
Eli and I were kids, absolutely, but Dad was the father of your children, and I can’t imagine how desperately you wanted Eli and I to grow up in a safe, healthy home. I’ve always thought about finding your home in the people around you. I feel at home with you and Eli, and I feel at home with Grandma and (sometimes) Grandpa. I felt so at home with Eddie and Adrianna, and I want you to know that losing Eddie hurt me just as much as Tristian, and just as much as Grandma Tootie. He was my father figure growing up, and he was always the one to protect me from Dad.
Those losses hurt me so much more than anything Dad did, and some days it feels a lot worse. Not having the emotional attachment to a family isn’t because of anything you did. It doesn’t have to do with you at all. I just feel like there are pieces of me that are missing.
I’m sorry that I’m so mean to you all the time. I’m sorry that I’m a bi***y teenager, and I made you feel like everything was your fault. As far as money goes, I’m not worried about it. Money can be replaced; it doesn’t have the value of a relationship with you.
I know you said that Eli and I are the best thing that ever happened to you, and I am so grateful that I get to experience life with you and Eli too. I know he is a little fu**er sometimes, but I love him with my entire heart. I love you with my entire heart. I’m sorry if I’ve made you feel any less.”
With that being said, my mother and I have a great relationship today. I am so thankful that I was able to mend those broken pieces.
Dr. Martin, I have no doubt that your mother knows. She knows that you’re grateful, and I’m sure she’s found her peace. I hope you have too.
Again, because I cannot stress it enough, thank you for sharing your vulnerability with us here. It is admirable, and your story is inspiring.
Thank you for reading.