A mother and daughter should be close. The relationship should be a loving and nurturing one. A mother should be equated with the words safety and trust. These were not my experiences, but despite that I was loved.
My mother told me as a young child how she regretted her pregnancy with me because it meant that she was stuck in an abusive marriage for another three years. Both my older brother and my mother were the victims of abuse by my father. The only harm he did towards me was hit my mother with a chair while she was pregnant with me, leaving me paralyzed on one side of my face and my left and right side of my body completely off-centered from each other.
Although I have no memory of life with my father, as my parents divorced when I was three years old, I did have the unfortunate privilege of reliving these events through stories my mother shared over and over again. By the time I was seven years old, I began having nightmares of my father coming into my room through my window. He had a butcher knife and was about to stab me before I woke up and ran to my mother's room. These nightmares continued for seven years.
Growing up was full of transition. We were always moving from one place to another and one state to another. I didn't realize it until decades later, but many moves were to keep one step ahead of my father who was stalking my mother. He found us once in Portland, OR and we ended up moving. Our moves weren't always to avoid my father though. Sometimes they were because my mother was trying to better herself, like when we moved to Washington state so she could go to nursing school. As a single parent, she worked and went to school full time while my brother and I took care of the house in the 3rd and 4th grades.
My mother was involved in many church and college organizations. One of the organizations included giving bible studies to a former prostitute who had many children. My mother brought my brother and I to these bible studies and we played with her children while she worked with the mother. One day a game of hiding and seek with her 13-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter turned into hiding and touch. I didn't really have a close relationship with my mother and waited seven years to tell her about this game. When I finally did tell her, it was because I was 15 years old and tutoring a 5th grader which she asked me to do. He and his older brother were home alone and when I came to tutor, his older brother raped me. This time I reported both events and the police interrogated me in the interview as though I was the perpetrator. The brother's friend threatened my life. I was then sent to a boarding school where I worked four jobs to pay my tuition and complete my last year of high school.
Another seven years later I found myself in Atlanta in college. I was pregnant, with cervical dysplasia, and HIV positive. I called my mother with this unfortunate news and just before my delivery my mother packed her bags, quit her job and moved from California to Georgia to help her "dying" daughter. Because she always saw herself outliving me.
My mother and I have a relationship full of turmoil. I never really felt loved. I was bitter and resentful towards my mother because I felt that she should have protected me more as a child. In reality she was always there for me when I was sick or when I needed help with my daughter. In fact, she was more like a mother than a grandmother to my daughter.
When my mother passed in 2012, we were estranged. On her death bed, she called those that she wanted to say goodbye to and I was not on that list. This caused me enormous pain until I went through her belongings while packing up her stuff. I learned that every presentation I made and every article written about me or by me was documented and recorded in an album which she had. I learned with tears in my eyes that my mother loved me. My mother was even proud of me. I am sorry that I can't hug her and tell her I love her anymore. But I can show this love by loving my own daughter so that she never feels the pain which I felt.