By Jessica Aiken-Hall
Recently I have been thinking a lot about my past. Writing my memoir, The Monster That Ate My Mommy only scratched the surface of my story. Even after completing it, and receiving feedback, I still did not fully understand the magnitude of the abuse that I endured. I still told myself, “It wasn’t that bad.”
It was only recently that everything shifted and I was able to see. To really see. The dots began to connect. Everything that I had tried to brush off as “not that bad,” began to reveal how bad it truly was.
My entire childhood was filled with psychological warfare, and the baton was passed to my ex-husband to continue to keep me under the spell. I didn’t see this before. I forgave so intensely, that I did not allow myself to fully understand the damage that had been caused.
I existed my whole life in their made up reality. And yet, I never fell completely. I never gave in, but my world was altered. I believed untrue things about myself as I was fed their poison.
I struggle with the image of myself. That is my one weakness. I did not understand why the barrier to my truth was so difficult to penetrate. I did not see what others saw. And then, it hit me. A tiny spot on the mirror was wiped clean and I began to see. I began to understand the extent of the abuse I was subjected to.
My reality was tested as I looked back on the past thirty-six years. The world as I knew it was rocked under my feet as I heard the voices from the abusers circle my thoughts.
“You’ll never be happy.”
“You just want to get people in trouble.”
“You don’t know how to have fun.”
The words loomed over me, settled into my skin and became my thoughts. Even when life started to look up, I continued to be pulled back to these words. I beat myself up over the hold they had over me, which in turn, added to their strength. I found myself questioning their validity, and until recently I believed them.
That was until that slight peek into reality. The grime was lifted from the mirror. It began to become clearer. I heard the same words spoken by all of the ones who had hurt me in the past, and this time instead of believing it must be true, I finally saw it.
My mother had been at the center of it all. She fed the lies to others, and coached them into treating me the way that they had.
The people who had not hurt me, who had not caused me pain all shared a connection: they were not led to me by my mother. They were people I found on my own. The people who loved me, who saw the true me, were not my mother’s minions.
It was not good enough for my mother to abuse me, she needed help. When I did not break under her spell, she enlisted others. Child abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, rape, domestic abuse…all at the hands of people my mother introduced me to.
I was stronger than them all.
I believed their words. I bruised under their hands. I lost pieces of myself. But, I did not give up. I kept the fight alive.
With the help from the people I introduced to my circle, my strength began to intensify. Safe people. People who love me. People who believe in me. People who push me to find my true self. People who do not let me continue to believe the lies from my mother’s distorted reality.
These are the people cleaning off the mirror. Washing the layers of dirt and grime off to allow me to see my true self. They push out the nonsense that made up my reality and offer kindness and love. They are patient and gentle as I learn who I really am–as I see myself as they have always seen me.
Thank you to my helpers. Thank you for your patience, your love, your kindness, your understanding. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for never believing the lies that my mom told. Thank you.
I do still forgive my mom. I do understand that she had her own demons she was fighting with. I now no longer live in the make believe world she created. The spell has been broken. And I am free.