Inquisitions make me a bit poignant. You know the ones, “So what does your mom think about…” or “where do your parents live?” or “what was it like where you grew up?”. These things come up in conversation when people are getting to know one another. If I lie, then I’ve committed a sin. If I tell the truth, I divulge too much information and seem obnoxious or mentally off balance or something…
My daughter asked me a question tonight. She said, “Momma, what was your first Cabbage Patch doll’s name?”. Well, I only had one, but I didn’t tell her that. I said, “Her name was Arlene Faith.” She said, “When was her birthday?” I thought about it. “I don’t remember.” I asked her if she wanted a Cabbage Patch doll (she’s 12). She said, “NO!” with eyes rolling in her head. Then she asked me “Did you play with her?” I said, “No. She just kind of sat on my bed or around somewhere.” And then, she paused and asked me this, “Did you sleep with her?”. My heart started racing. I realized how different we were. This child’s mind of hers. When I was her age, I was practically a woman in the household I lived in. I started to explain it to her. I said this:
“NO, Courtney, I grew up very different from you. I didn’t have someone tucking me in and saying prayers over me every night. But, someone did come into my room almost every night. They came to touch me or have sex with me. I didn’t sleep with a teddy bear or a baby doll. I slept with fear. ” She looked at me with her big blue innocent eyes. No tears or fear, but with an intense desire to know and understand. I told her, “I lived my life trying to be invisible in that house, to stay under the radar. I didn’t want anyone to know that I existed so that hopefully they would just forget about me and not hit me or hump me. So I walked on eggshells all the time, full of anxiety and a bundle of nerves. I always felt like someone was watching me or was going to get me. I was deathly afraid of the dark until I was well into my 20’s. When I left that house, ironically, I wanted EVERYBODY to notice me and love me. I was so lonely that I had sex with just about every guy who showed an interest. My point is this, I hurt myself with my actions more than they ever hurt me. My drugs and alcohol and sexual misconduct produced shame, guilt, and pain that was unrelenting.” Then I made sure she heard this, “But, don’t feel sorry for me. I am fine. I just thought you should understand that sometimes it’s hard for me to relate to where you are and what you are thinking, because honestly, I haven’t been there. I think sometimes I envy that. I appreciate your innocence so much, but I am jealous also.” She quietly retreated back to her world. I’m not sure if I enlightened her or infected her.
I know that none of this was in vain. It’s moments like these that hurt, though. They are fleeting and few, and they are discernable. I know that she has to hear this stuff. I am grateful that she doesn’t understand. I am so thankful that she has no idea and can’t compare it to anything. Even more pleasing is that she doesn’t look at me any differently. I love that.
Some people may balk at these confessions to my daughter. Well, she’s my daughter and I feel that she should know her mother past, present, and future. I don’t have the privilege of knowing mine. NO one will talk to me candidly about her. Ever since she died, everyone puts her on this pedestal and refuses to concede that she was ever anything but ethereal. I find it endearing, but arresting.
Ahhhhh…so the rant ends. I have no idea how a conversation about a Cabbage Patch doll turned into a full fledge disclosure, but it did, and that is just fine. We have had this discussion many times and probably will many more. It opens doors and builds trust and hopefully (I can only pray) she will trust me enough to communicate with me through these ever so formative years. She has seen the metamorphosis of her mother, first hand. She remembers what Budweiser smells like on this mother’s breath when I kissed her goodnight. BUT, now she trusts that she will never have to endure that again. Now, this mother lays her hands on her, on my knees, and prays her out EVERY night, asking God to command angels to camp around her and keep her safe. I know without a doubt that one angel is always there.♥♥♥