To my children as we start our family tree,
I cannot begin to describe the impact you have on my life. You are the blessings sent from the divine to wake me up. You are the little life tornadoes who never let me choose the easy way out of the pain. You are the epitome of forgiveness as I made mistake after mistake as a parent. You are the comic relief that comes just when I need it. And you are the reminder of how important the small, daily life events really are.
I have been hoping for a savior since I was born. I even found myself enmeshed with several people through the years who I thought might make things right. But of course, they didn't. They didn't make things right because the only person who could do that was me. And as I look back over the past eight years, I realize that I may have been responsible for my life, but I had help. I had two little saviors who came to help me figure it out.
You haven't heard of parental guilt because you are only 8 years old. When you asked me to tell you the hardest thing in the world, I wasn't kidding when I said "raising children." You laughed and said "no way," but one day, you might be lucky enough to understand. And I do feel guilty for the bad days, the bad decisions. So today, I am going to apologize for the parts that haven't gone the way I hoped. But I also want you to understand that I know I did so many things right. Parenting is dichotomous like that. It is never easy. And it is never black and white. It's just worth it.
So, I am sorry. I am sorry you will never know your biological father. We were both overwhelmed with trauma when we met. We should have known better than to venture in the direction we did. We weren't ready to love each other let alone two little babies. But we sure did try. And your father was a great guy when he wasn't dealing with his trauma. He was smart as a whip, very talented and so funny. I rarely laughed before you were born, but when I did, it was in response to something he did or said. Our marriage may have imploded, he may have walked out and he may have eventually succumbed to his trauma, but he wasn't a bad guy.
I am not sorry for sticking up for myself in my relationship with your father. He wanted to be in relationship with someone who would tolerate his lack of participation in the game of life. He wanted to be in relationship with someone who didn't mind being treated unfairly. And while I may have been that person when we married, I was not that person at the end of our marriage. I had to say enough is enough. I had to stand up for me... and for you. I had to hold him accountable for his part in the family. And that was too much for him. But I am not sorry.
I am sorry you will not know holidays that are filled with extended family. I hate that. I get concerned when you watch the commercials or movies showing holidays with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. You have never complained but you are 8 years old. One day, you will find it weird that we have such small gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I do my best to make it special, but I know that you know it is different.
I am not sorry for removing you from that horrific, co-dependent, evil, ridiculous excuse for a family. You will NOT learn about relationship through interactions with them. You will not learn that people are meant to hurt you, to use you, to abuse you. You will not learn that nobody can be trusted. You will not learn that you are not loved. You will not learn that you are worthless. For as long as I breathe this air and walk this planet, it will not happen. And I am not sorry.
I am sorry that your mother has a confusing job. I am sorry that you have learned about slavery at such a tender age. I am sorry that I can't tell you the details about what I write. I am sorry that you have to use the words "my mom is a survivor of trafficking" without really knowing the impact of what you are saying. I am sorry for that future conversation where you will become fully aware of what that statement means. I am sorry that one day, you will read my story, my blog and hopefully, my book. And I know that is going to hurt like hell. I know it is coming because you are already making connections that I thought would happen years from now. I know it is coming and I am sorry.
I am not sorry that you will understand what it means to be exploited through my story and not your own. I am not sorry that you will know that exploitation does not just happen to people in other countries, other classes, other races. I am not sorry that you will understand what it means to follow your heart and stand up for justice. I am not sorry that you will know that financial sacrifices need to be made to follow your calling. And hopefully, you will know that it makes life so much more fulfilling. I am not sorry that you will look at life differently and that you will know to follow your heart, speak your mind and change the world. I am not sorry for that.
I hope you know that I love you. I hope you will remember that when you are struggling with the lack of a biological father and extended family. I hope you will remember that when you are trying to make sense of my past. I hope you will understand that it was all done for you. Every step I took to stand up for myself, speak my mind and fight for justice was done for you.
I have learned that you will not do what I say. I have learned that you will do what I do. And that left me with only one choice. I have to be who you deserve to be. And you deserve to be strong, courageous, outspoken and responsible for the future of this world. And if I somehow manage to show you that, I am not sorry.