Finding out I was pregnant with my daughter ranks up there as one of the most terrifying moments of my life. She was born out of an abusive relationship and growing up with unstable parents myself, I feared that the only thing I had to offer her, was failure. But the more she grew inside of me, the more I fell in love with her. I came to realize, that with everything I could not offer her, the one thing that I could, was the one thing I had so desperately craved my entire life; I could offer her love. I started writing to her; a letter every week of her life since before she was born. Talking to her about the hopes and dreams I have for her, telling her how much I loved her, giving her advice that as a teenager, she may not want to take from me in person, but maybe she will be open to reflecting on it. If I could offer her nothing but love, I wanted her to know how much I loved her. That when we hit those rough teenage years and she calls me stupid and slams the door in my face, that I could slip them under the door, and show her, that I tried as hard as I could, and how much I love her. When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I started doing the same thing for him. I hoped that one day, they would be able to look back, and see all the fun that we had, all the good times, and how we worked through the bad.
To be honest, being in the relationship that I was in, deep down, I feared I might not make it out alive, and it terrified me to think about what might happen to them if I were gone. I wanted them to know, to have some proof, that at least one person in this great big world knew how special and important they were, and how much they are loved.
When my Ex disappeared, he took what he thought were the most valuable things. He took the money, the computer, my jewelry, and then he left his entire life, including all of us, behind. But before he left, he took one more thing, one more thing that he knew would hurt me. When he had already stripped away all of my dignity and self respect, he took all of my letters to my children. He took the hard copies I had printed, the computer they were saved on, and he even took the back up memory sticks that I kept in the safety deposit box. He knew it would hurt me and I was devastated. It just went to prove that not only did he not love me, but that he truly didn't care if his children felt loved either. Despite my attorney telling me we would take him to court on it, when my ex approached me for money, I used it as a bargaining chip. $500 later there was some weird mailbox exchange and I got most of them back. For the first time since he had left, I cried tears of relief. Since then, I have continued writing to my children, every week.
There was one letter that was particularly hard though, one letter that stands out above the rest. The letter to my children letting them know what had happened to their father. It literally took me a year and a half to be able to put my feelings down on paper. I only finally did it in September, when I once again feared for my life, and I was worried that if I was killed, my children would have no idea what had actually happened. And so I sat down, and I explained to them, the last year and a half. And it was hard. Harder then I had anticipated. But its done. I wonder, twenty years from now, if I will look back on this, and have ended up at least somewhere close to where I pray we will. As the movie "The Ten Commandments" so boldly exclaims, "so it shall be written, so it shall be done." I can only pray that it proves to be true, but for now, this is what I leave my children with:
"..........and so here we are today. I know that your dad lives with his girlfriend a few towns over and I know he is heavily involved in the drug world. Initially I had tried calling him numerous times, asking if he at least wants to set up a phone schedule to talk to you guys, but he never returned my calls. I can’t imagine how hard this will be for you to process when you get older. He abandoned you, he abandoned us all, but know this, IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. YOU DID NOT DO ANYTHING WRONG. SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH HIM. Something is VERY wrong with him, people do not go around trampling all over people. Fathers, no matter how much they hate their ex wives, do not abandon their children. People do not just decide that they want a new life and completely walk away from their old one; normal people do not do that. I have tried for the last year and a half to wrap my brain around what happened and the only conclusion that I have come to is that you cannot rationalize the irrational. Everything your father was doing, everything he was involved in, it was crazy and stupid. "Crazy stupid" just doesn’t make sense, no matter how many times you try to figure it out.
I'm scared. I truly am. I was raised by a dysfunctional mother who had no idea what she was doing and I fear that the only thing I can offer you is the same. My daughter, I have so many dreams for you, but I will support you wherever you choose to go in life. Even at the tender age of five, you know what you want out of life, and you aren't afraid to get it. I will walk beside you, hold your hand, and while you take the lead, I'll keep you on the path. We will have to learn together baby, I wish I was going in front of you, clearing the way, but unfortunately we are going to have to walk together, because I'm not really sure where we are going. I'm going to stumble and I'm going to fall, but I will never let go of your hand, and I will always pull you up. My son, you especially scare me. I don't know how to raise a man. I don't even know how a man should act anymore. I can only go by how I wish they would act. I have no one to ask and no one to learn from, and I am downright terrified of failing you. Be patient with me, I don't know what I'm doing, but together, we will figure it out.
But also know this; I LOVE YOU. I am doing EVERYTHING I possibly can to give you guys the lives you deserve. I am working myself to the bone. I am dragging my weary, sleep deprived body around every day to make sure that you are happy and feel loved. I am broken. I am ashamed. I have been abandoned. I fear that I will never be good enough for you. I am scared that no matter how hard I try, I, being only one person, will never be enough for you. I'm afraid that it won't matter how hard I try, that I will still fail you. So please, please know, that no matter how our lives turn out, I tried. I am trying. I am praying and screaming and loving and hoping and working and begging that I can be enough. Please be proud of me. Please, one day look back and know how much you are loved. How truly, deeply, unconditionally, you are loved. I love you and I pray with all of my soul that it will be enough.
I can't promise you much and I don't have much to give. I dreamt the world for you the day you were born and unfortunately, your path is turning out to be harder then most, but you will learn things that others can't. Don't perceive trials as unfortunate events. Look to them for their lessons, find the blessings in the storm, and hang on to them. Don't be afraid to swim against the current, for the world is changed when someone steps outside of the box. Speak your truth and don't be afraid to make a change if no one listens.You guys are going to be strong. You are going to be tough. You will be forced to walk a path of humility that will lead you to a sense of compassion that others just simply cannot posses. You will learn how to not treat people and that will make you amazing. You will learn to stand up for the weak and the broken, and above all, how to stand up for yourselves. Don't give away the parts of yourself that you can't live without, because with every piece lost, the more you slip away. Don't let others steal parts of you that were never theirs to begin with. Nothing will be handed to you, but you will learn how get it. You will learn the value of hard work and I am going to try my damnedest to teach you self respect. I may not be able to offer you the same material goods that others can, but the lessons I can teach you will hopefully take you farther in life then anything someone can buy you. I will show you what unconditional love looks like and above all, I will teach you to never give up. Hold your head high. If you walk through life looking down, you will miss all of the unbelievable sights awaiting you on the horizon, for the most beautiful sunrises come after the storms.
Find your path in this world. Find it, walk it, and don't let anything, or anyone, stray you off course. I can't give you much, but I can promise you, with all of my soul, with every fiber of my being, with everything in life that I hold on to, I will NEVER abandon you. I will always be cheering you on. I promise you, with all of my heart, that you will never walk alone. As I have whispered in your ear every night of your life since the day you were born, you are precious. You are smart. You are beautiful. Don't let anyone tell you differently, and don't ever forget it, because
You. Are. Loved.