When I was a little older, 10 or so, my mother once told me that when she learned of my conception, she wept. She said she prayed that I would not be born. She said she was devastated by the realization that she would be bringing another child (I have an older sibling) into a home filled with violence. Violence at the hands of the one who was to protect her and us. I know she didn’t say it to be hurtful. I think it was an attempt to explain how much she wished she could protect me. No matter what her reasons though, the idea that my mother never really wanted me stayed with me always – arising during my darkest moments in life. She actually hoped I would never come to be. God apparently had other plans.
My mother often looked to my sister and I for guidance, advice even regarding the domestic violence. As young as six or seven years old, I can recall my mother weeping on her bed, bruised, sometimes bleeding – as my sister and I quietly assessed her physical injuries, she would ask us – “What should I do?” I was placed in the role of parent before I ever had a chance to play the role of the child. I struggled to find the right words to offer her comfort in those moments because I had no example to follow, no parent to which I could model my behavior. Still, I remember trying my best to convince my mother to take us far away. Mature beyond my years, I begged for her to protect us and remove us from the danger of his wrath, which was unpredictable and erratic as most domestic violence offenders are. As an adult, these whispered conversations with my mother haunt me. My mother asking my opinion and yet never heeding it has a detrimental affect on my current responses in similar situations. The moment someone discounts my voice, all the bodily feelings of being hopeless and powerless rush inside me, quicker than quicksand, dragging me under. The slightest disrespect of my point of view, and I am back in that room, trembling and afraid, and feeling unheard. But I am learning not displace my feelings towards my mother onto others. And I am learning to trust that no matter what, God always hears my voice, even when its whispering.