Lily,

I have done so much wrong toward you. I didn’t know how else to do it or didn’t feel strong enough to do it differently.

Whenever I had too much and left the room or house, I let you know that I’m not reliable and you can’t count on me. You felt abandoned. You had to rely on yourself. So now, you yell, leave me alone, because the feelings are too much and you try to deal with them yourself, because you think I can’t handle it.

You didn’t feel safe and secure when Daddy and I talked about divorce. Should I have hidden it from you? Should I have lied and said everything was OK? Do you feel safe and secure now?

You didn’t feel belonging whenever I isolated you in your room or left you alone in anger. Anything you can be disassociated from you never really belonged to any way. Do you feel that you belong to this family? Especially since Daddy and I threaten to or outright leave it.

You ask me almost daily what to do about bad feelings. Usually it has something to do with a video you watched and a character you feel bad for. I’ve talked about letting the feelings go, distracting yourself, changing the story, thinking of the happy ending (knowing everything works out). I have a new idea. Give the bad feelings to me to hold. Let me be the grown up and protect you, so you don’t have to do it yourself. Or pull those feelings out of your body and send them somewhere, above you, into a wall, into the sky, into a rock, into water, better yet, into fire. Let’s burn off the stress and purify them.

Pain is isolating. I see pain as weakness and I couldn’t (was afraid to) show weakness as a child. But I don’t think I’ve ever shamed you for crying or being upset. There were times when you got so upset you couldn’t speak, because you were crying so hard.

What else did I do wrong? I didn’t get you enough time with other kids. I think you feel overwhelmed by some other kids, or haven’t figured out how to play with them. I did try to setup playdates for you. You did go to Montessori for 3 months. You went to Gateway for 6 months twice a week. Maybe you should have gone more, but I asked and you didn’t want to. I took you to summer day camp. The first year, you stayed all week. The next year, you lasted 3 days. I took you to classes, but you want to do your own thing instead of following along. You like free play. You cut in line. Before, you got to play more with neighborhood kids, but now they’re in school and Audrey and Cali call you a baby. We hardly see Avary and Evan any more. We haven’t seen Tabby in years. I have tried. I’ve signed you up for stuff, taken you places, but you don’t connect with kids. Why not? Have I messed things up? Are you afraid of rejection? Why me? Why do you always want me all the time? I feel like you’re either sick of me or want me intensely or can’t decide between the two. I’m your life line and I didn’t mean to become that.

On a bright note, you’ve developed a desire to chop veggies, crack eggs, and use the stove. You want to cook with me.

It’s 4:38 am and I hear you cough across the hall. I’m so tired, but I need to keep working and get this done. I want to be a good mother. I want to keep my job. This is hard.

I want to feel belonging. I want you to feel belonging. I don’t want you to feel isolation. Or me. We need to get out more. Make friends. Volunteer. Find folks with common interests. FInd you kids to play with on a regular basis. The weather has been cold, so people have not been outside. Too much to think about right now. We’ll discuss these things with Pat next week.

I also want you to know that I make mistakes. I learn. I want to be better for your sake. I want to heal myself by making things up to you.

Alone, alone, alone. That’s the word I keep hearing. I don’t want you to feel alone.

For Easter, we went in the basement at Babcia’s and she danced, we laughed, we put Kleenexes on our heads and pretended it was a spa treatment, we had a good time. Daddy and I hadn’t laughed like that in a long time. We need more of that. Some days Daddy is so stressed and he takes it out on us.

OK, back to good thoughts. Tomorrow, we will go outside. Lay down and look at the sky. Light that fire. Fly a kite. Visit someone.

I love you. I’m sorry for all my mistakes. I feel so ashamed and sorry.

Also feel ashamed and sorry for two recent posts on Facebook. I know I hurt one lady’s feelings and probably pissed off someone else who was becoming a friend and maybe won’t now. I sabotage relationships when they get too intimate and needy. And some of these moms I befriended only to get you playmates. I think they know that. I kind of feel like saying fuck it, tossing them all away, and starting over. I’m glad I never told you that I could start over with another kid, because I’ve been tempted to a few times. I didn’t mess that up at least. But I need to stop, stop, stop talking about leaving you at home or leaving the house or whatever, because I know you hate that. I am wrong to threaten you. It doesn’t “work” because it’s wrong and harms you. That’s why I don’t spank you. Emotional abuse is worse than physical abuse. I want to keep these things I’ve written in this letter at the forefront of my mind.

5:14 am
If I truly want belonging, I need to recognize all the ways I’m thinking, speaking, and acting that are pushing people away. And also what I’m doing to bring them closer. Every thought, utterance, and action is a choice.

5:21 am
Perhaps the worst thing I’ve ever said to you: “Get used to being alone.” Horrible.

5:24 am
I made the goal before to look for similarities between myself and others instead of differences. I will try this again.

5:56 am
We should make a list of everything that makes you feel safe. All your favorite things, activities, places, smells, food, music.

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