INTERLUDE: an honest letter to my mother
house fires, horror stories, and shoes i've accidentally filled
I’m alright. I’m doing good, I swear. No more playing with matches— I stopped all of that when I almost burnt the house down. I was so little then, just a baby screaming at you to wake up and help me. There was a moment when I wanted the house to burn down with you in it, still asleep, but I’d never tell you that. I have a weird fear that you’re going to figure me out one day and lock me away. I have a weird fear that I’m going to figure you out and realize just how much I’m looking in a mirror. All of this to say: I am scared of losing my autonomy to you.
I came out of you dead. It’s not particularly your fault, but it’s not mine, either. I don’t know what to do with that. I want someone to blame. Maybe it was God, but then God also brought me back. I don’t see the point of that. Like multiplying 1 by 1.
I miss you, but I’d also never tell you that. Or that I love you. I haven’t said that since eighth grade because I told myself I didn’t want to lie anymore. I miss you like I missed my sibling when they moved out— it’s always nice to have someone to point a finger at. I am just left with myself right now, even though you’re in the next room over. You’re right there, and I am right here, and nobody has anything to say because we already know.
It’s weird. I don’t know what to do with you. You stopped being my mother when you started being a person to me.
My plans of moving as far away as I can have always been in place. I found a notebook from when I was four, full of dreams about the little ghost towns we passed through and working at the post office or grocery store and never calling home. I could barely write back then. It was almost illegible, but I knew what it said. I’ve been saying it my whole life. Different passages talked about New York City or California, being a fashion designer or a singer or working with animals. Another one had a drawing of you lying in a pool of blood with X-ed out eyes, neatly labeled “Mommy” by an arrow pointing to the hole in your chest, made after you wouldn’t let me hold the scissors.
The first horror story I ever wrote was about you. And me, but more indirectly. I ate my way out of your womb. We’re great at leaving holes in each other, the same way that an ex of yours threw a can of soup at you so hard it stuck in the wall. I like holes, I think it’s good to leave a little space for God to come in, but there’s no empty holes here— they echo with a distinct absence. It’s a game of Operation. Something should be there, who knows what.
Love, maybe. I know you love me, but it’s not in a way I can understand— you want me close, you want intimacy. You want to be the one I run to when something happens. You want to be my shoulder to cry on, my rock, the person I would thank first in an award show speech.
It’s a shame, really. I’ve never been a crier. As a matter of fact, I’ve never been someone to say more than what needs to be said, and then a little less.
Is that the disconnect between us? My independence and your need to be needed? I’ve heard what you were like before you had kids, all the stories of you always being the life of the party, the first one called. There’s pictures of you inside a limousine, the focus of the camera despite all the other women, high out of your mind. God knows I’m not one to judge for that, considering where I ended up, but you need a desire and passion that I simply don’t have for you.
So here we are, stuck in the house together because I hate that I became you and you love that I’m sick enough to need help. I swear that if I wasn’t already unwell, you’d find a way to make me sick, choke me with your need for symbiosis. It’s clearly something we don’t talk about— just like we don’t talk about the post-partum depression that had you almost cut open your stomach to try and force me back inside, or like how we don’t talk about how you only let me eat vegetables, meat, and fruit “as a treat”, or like how we don’t talk about how you want me to understand you so badly that you drop hints about grandchildren and interior decorating almost daily.
The thing is, I understand you as much as someone like me can understand someone like you. I analyze you like a criminal profile— obsession with your father, raised in Alaska, ate microwave dinners every night except for Sundays and holidays for 17 years. It all slots into place like a puzzle. Everything you do is because of your past, no matter how fast you try to run from it.
There are basic things you understand about me, swaddled in layers of emotions and gut feelings that cloud the picture. I am your daughter. Your daughter. Because of this, you recognize me only as an extension of yourself, instead of someone who is of vastly different personality and temperament than you, someone who hardly feels a thing.
So here we fucking are. You know what the funniest thing about all of this is? When I look in the mirror, I’m a dead ringer for you. In more ways than one. If I look hard enough, I can see it— a phantom thread from my belly button to your uterus.
You can’t make me put down the scissors anymore.
god this is amazing
such incredible writing wow! ❤️❤️❤️