Letter to a Toxic Mother

The sky was fading from blue to black

just like the bruises I found on my baby brother the day I relieved you of the title of “mother”.

Mom, you always said you loved art,

so much that you made it your goal to paint us like watercolors,

every color of the rainbow splashed on our skins,

the blood and bruises mixed together to make a masterpiece,

and my siblings and I wore the colors

to prove you had a palette and an imaginative mind

Science says that abusers are often just replaying their own trauma

I guess if that’s true, I hate you one part less, but have one part more fear that one day I’ll end up just like you.

on my best days, I look at you as a stranger and on my worst,

I look at you the same way I lookat a broken mirror,

hoping that the reflection isn’t an accurate representation of me

The days I hate myself most

are the days I see myself becoming just like you

I hate that I have watched all of my lovers grow to fear me

the same way I fear you,

I hate that you succeeded in planting a version of yourself in me,

so deep that I have taken a shovel to my chest more times than a person should,

but I have never unearthed what you buried

I suppose this should be a poem about forgiveness,

I suppose I should stop blaming you for my failures and shortcomings,

I mean after all, I’m a big girl right? I take care of myself,

But I am missing the one thing I can never have: an understanding of love.

See I give love the same way I got it:

your love was lemon juice

All it ever did was hurt or feel sour

loving you as a child was the confusion of the progression of days of the spring

hot, cold, hot again, cold, frozen, warm.

Your love was rare as the Albuquerque rains,

it happens twice a year,

but you never knew which days that would be

I have practiced the words:

“I don’t have a mom” more than any other phrase,

about as often as I have to apologize to lovers

that I only know how to love them the same way you loved me:

which is to say very little, not at all,

or maybe just the only way I know how.

The only place I will ever admit that I miss you is in this poem

but you’ll never hear it.

There’s nothing but silence between us now,

but if I could,

I would tell you

I’m sorry, I didn’t want it to come to this.

I’d tell you

I cried on Mother’s Day and I almost bought you a birthday present.

I’d tell you that on my hardest days I still wish I had a mom

I’d tell you that I have a million reasons to hate you but at the end of each day…

I’m just sad. I don’t hate you at all.

Cutting you out was salt water searing my veins,

Finding old wounds, turning them over, making them sting

but every day I rationalize it the same way I rationalize pouring peroxide on scrapes:

it hurts right now, but it heals you later.

Mom if I could unbreak you, I would

I know that your cross is as heavy as Christ’s itself

I know you didn’t ask for this either,

but as much as I have an explanation for what you did to me…

it will never be an excuse

–Blare Tyn

Blare is a linguist and a martial artist. She’s competed in poetry slams for the past year and really enjoys Cap’n Crunch Berries. You can find her poetry here and follow her on Tumblr.

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