Rise Like a Phoenix


Sometimes the power of a therapeutic letter can be immense, even when the addressee died many years ago. This letter was written by one of our clients to her mum who died about 15 years ago. This courageous client has given us permission to share this very personal and extremely moving letter which she wrote as part of her therapeutic process. Her mum, who labelled her as a “failure” throughout her childhood and early adulthood, died before the client had a chance to share her feelings and redress the balance.

So Mum, you think I’m a failure, do you?  Let’s look at it, shall we…..

You think I’m a failure because my life doesn’t fit into the very rigid idea of what you think my life should look like.  But you fail to see that although it’s not perfect, I’m actually quite happy with my life.  Sure, there’s things that I’d like to change, but there’s also things that I wouldn’t change.  I’m sorry that you failed to see that.

You think I’m a failure because my weight and size don’t fit into your, and society’s, idea of what is attractive.  However, you’ve failed to see my smile that can lift someone up when they’re feeling low.  You’ve failed to see my big heart that will overlook someone’s mistakes or help them out, even when it’s inconvenient to me.  My arms aren’t toned and muscular, but you’ve failed to see that they’re always ready to hug someone or hold them while they cry.  My stomach might not be flat or firm, but you’ve failed to see that I’m not starving myself and that I take pleasure in food.  You’ve also failed to see that I don’t spend my whole life worrying about what the scales say or how I look in clothes.  You’ve failed to see that I’m not that shallow.  I don’t judge someone purely on how they look or what dress size they wear.  I’m more concerned with what’s inside them, not what the outside looks like.  I’d rather see a beautiful soul that is kind and compassionate.  Someone who really cares about others.  A genuine and warm smile is much more attractive to me than their waist size.  You fail to see any of that because you’re so fixated on their weight.  And to me, that is incredibly sad.  You fail to see the “whole” person.

You thought I was a failure because I wasn’t as clever as Karen at school.  And yet you failed to see just how good I was at Physics and Latin.  Just because you and Dad couldn’t understand physics, didn’t detract from the fact that I just “got it” and that I was really good at it.  You failed to see my achievements because you were too busy looking at what you deemed to be my failures.  Never once did you encourage me to keep going with what I was good at.  Instead, you insisted that I try harder at the things I wasn’t good at.  Not everybody is good at the same things, but that didn’t matter to you.  I was either good at what you wanted me to good at, or I was a failure.

You thought I was a failure because I didn’t have a “career”.  But you failed to see that I was doing something that made me happy.  You failed to see that I didn’t want a highly stressful job.  You failed to see that doing something that made me happy was much more important to me than doing something that brought in a lot of money.  Sure, we all need money to survive, but it doesn’t always make you happy.  You and Dad fighting all the time taught me that.  And you failed to see that I did not want to be in a situation like that.  In fact, you failed to see the impact all that fighting had on us as kids.  And you certainly failed to see that we needed reassurance, comfort and help to deal with your fighting.

You thought I was a failure because I had tattoos.  And yet you failed to see the art in them. And you failed to see the strength I had within me to have them done, knowing that you wouldn’t approve.  And you failed to see that they were part of what made me unique, not something to be hidden and ashamed of.  By the way, your “Golden Child” is about to have her first tattoo done.  She’s finally found the courage to be herself and have what she wants, without your disapproval.  And as for her piercings….. You thought mine were “bad” and you couldn’t even see most of them!!  You’d be ashamed of Karen now!!!  Bet that has you turning in your grave  *evil laugh*

You think I’m a failure now because I don’t have a partner and haven’t had for over 10 years.  But you’d fail to see that I’m using this time to heal from all your negative beliefs of me.  You’d fail to see my confidence growing.  There’s so much that you took away from me, but I’m giving it back to myself.  You’d fail to see that I’ve finally learned to live on my own, without needing someone in my life to “complete” me.  I’ve realised that I’m already complete – I was always complete.  You failed to see that.  Just because you didn’t have the strength to stand on your own 2 feet, you taught us that we would need to be always with someone.  You failed to see my relationship with Ian, which lasted 8 years.  You failed to see my bisexuality, believing I was only with Hayz because I was lonely.  And that it was just a phase.  You failed to see so much of my life.  

So now I can say that I see you, Mum.  I see you as the insecure coward you are.  I see that you had no confidence in yourself.  And to overcome that, you became a bully.  A cowardly bully.  You thought that by bringing me down, it made you look better.  But I saw through you.  I saw the truth.  And sadly, that meant you tried even harder to see my faults.  And you had to point them out to everyone.  And during all that time, I refused to tell anyone about your faults.  I kept your secret.  Now who’s the failure?  Now who’s the “bad person”??  You took a young, innocent child and made them your scapegoat.  You blamed me for everything that went wrong in your marriage, instead of standing up and owning it.  It was easier for you to blame me than take any responsibility.  And the incredibly sad part is that I believed you for the longest of times.  I believed I was bad, unlovable, not worth any attention or time.  I believed that I wasn’t good enough for your love.  But it was all a lie.  You were, and still are, weak and pathetic.  I’ve owned up to my mistakes.  I’m not proud of them, but I paid my dues.  I’ve done the work I needed to, to make me a better person.  And my mistakes and the work I’ve done have made me who I am today.  You didn’t have the courage to do any of that.  You saw my strength and were jealous of it.  You knew that if you couldn’t have that strength, then you’d make sure everyone believed it was a bad thing.  And that you were a fucking angel to put up with me.  If that’s what you wanted to believe, then so be it.  But I still know the truth.  And the truth will set me free…….

So, in the end Mum, fuck you!!!!  While you were too busy finding my faults and telling me what a failure I was, I was busy overlooking your failures.  You failed to be a good Mum to me.  You failed to see me – really see me.  So now who’s the failure??  

The Come-Back Kid

It’s ok to feel burned out.  But in the black ashes of your life, there is a small glowing ember.  Feed it.  Fan it.  And watch the glorious Pheonix rise from the ashes, burning brightly for all to see.

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