Published on April 20th, 2023 | by Cynthia Bernard


My youngest daughter wants nothing

to do with me and when she does contact me she is a cataclysm of anger. Her you always and you never, it’s got to be about more than what actually happened. She recalls things from when she was growing up, things she calls abuse—and I know what abuse is, being chased and cornered, pounded with fists, belts, nasty words, once even a garden hose—Of course I was not perfect, I was a human-being mother, and I let her down sometimes, especially I couldn’t withstand her attack, attack, in-my-face attack, and I sent her to her dad’s for a while—and so I abandoned her at a time when, if her mother had responded with compassion, she might have felt loved and she might have grown up less angry.

And perhaps this is how the trauma of my childhood has been passed through me to her, not by my repeating what was done to me—I never hit her, never screamed at her, never, never, never—but I turned away when she was hurting, when her pain came out in ferocious fury, and she needed acceptance and love even then, and my inability to do anything except turn away, that’s how my father wounded her, too.

And now she wants nothing to do with me and I am sad and I am relieved. I give up and I hold on, I hold on to the tiniest morsel of hope for the future, but I’m not ready yet, so not for now, please, not right now.

I ran far away from my parents, too, left before I even finished high school, but I only once tried to talk back, kept my anger for pounding pillows and talking to therapists and being really cruel to myself.

So perhaps I didn’t give her all of what she needed, and perhaps I gave her something, more freedom than I ever had myself.

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About the Author

Cynthia is a woman in her late sixties who is finding her voice as a poet after many years of silence. A long-time classroom teacher and a spiritual mentor, she lives and writes on a hill overlooking the ocean about 20 miles south of San Francisco.

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