As We Start Our Family Tree

GivingHope

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 throughout 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 seven 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 seven 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 dualistic 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 seven 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.

Love Always,
Mom

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21 thoughts on “As We Start Our Family Tree

  1. Thank you for writing this article and sharing a part of your life that must be, at times, very hard to do. Though I have not gone through exactly what you have been through, my father set me up for a rape and first sexual experience at the place I was working at while attending college. He did it because his friend, who owned the restaurant/motel said I owed additional rent monies and they were already taking quite a bit of my salary as a waitress, banquet server and maid. I went to my doctor the next day and told him what had happened. Ended up joining the military and after graduating boot camp, I was raped again by a Petty Officer who held a saw-offed shot gun in my face demanding that I have sex with him or he would end my life. Luckily I got away and reported it to the COD desk at that time. Went on with my military career; but after years of counseling, some things have gone wrong in my life as an older adult. My husband of 22 years passed away 11 years ago and I have four beautiful adult children plus five AWESOME grandchildren; but two veterans who I filed police reports on have been seeking revenge on me for over a year.

    Anyway, I don’t know how God will fix my life or me; but all I can do is hold onto the thin spark of hope that I have. Used to have so much faith in God; but for some reason the mental/emotional abuse I have been experiencing despite reporting things to the authorities and to the owners of where I live, I feel that no one cares or listens at times. All I know is that God loves all of us despite what we have been through or are going through. I do not understand why God would allow a disabled female veteran to keep experiencing hatred and putdowns; but I pray daily asking HIM for the strength to get through each day. So far HE has helped me make it through each and everyday!

    Thank you for your transparency of your own story and helping people like myself to know that God is there even is things appear dark at times. Hugs

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    • Faith, I am so sorry you are going through all of that. Keep your courage up as you face the evil that wants to silence you. Survivors can support each other and provide strength when everything seems lost.

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  2. Dear Elizabeth,
    My heart aches for you as I read this letter to your beloved children. What a beautiful gift you lay out before them though it is filled with pain and not wrapped in the prettiest package. The love and sacrifices you’ve made in life are the example not only to other trafficking survivors such as myself, but most importantly the modeling for your children. Though I have not been able to have children yet, I have sat fist to cheek in tears wondering what I will say to them about their grandparents, and extended family that trafficked us out as a kid or if I even deserve to have children for that matter.

    You are so courageous dear warrior! No doubt your children have observed the mantle of strength you embody and your undying love for them through everything. When I/we sit down to read this blog, I’m filled with a sense of deep understanding, hope and camaraderie in battle. I/we think on the battles over what was stolen, what we do with those hollow aches in the recesses of our hearts for others. That is, we carry on, open the window to the pain and let the fresh breezes of truth and hope flow through them again to teach others and ultimately grow! Your family tree flourishes, because you cut the dead roots off!
    My family tree consists of me. Family is after all what you make it. Though your children may not understand fully the need for separation from the evil, they will see it in the end. It’s the actions that speak louder than any words. They have everything, because they have your love! Think on that! We never had that for ourselves.
    Peace and Light to you!
    ~K

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you K. I love your imagery about the breezes of truth and hope. Survivors are family because we live the same pain although we each may take a different journey. Whenever you need camaraderie, we are here.

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      • Thank you for your kindness and comments dear. We need camaraderie always, because we have nothing here in life to grip on to. You know, when we look within, we’re never without! I keep trying to remind myself and my alters of that. Survivors are a WARRIOR family! We link up arms in battle and kick our abusers to the curb! 😉

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  3. What a wonderful letter. Your love and commitment to your children is clear to see and I’m sure they will one day understand why it was not possible to have extended family in their lives, even though this may be hard sometimes. They will see what a courageous mum you are and appreciate all you have been through and quite possibly be interested in helping others too. I think they will understand that being truthful about the past and what that means is so much better than being afraid and secretive or lying. They will see that children and adults will go on suffering if this is not confronted and their generation will further help to continue with the truth, I’m sure as people like yourself continue to educate and raise awareness. They are blessed to have such an honest and brave mum, as I’m sure you are blessed to have them in your life.

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  4. Elizabeth,

    I found your blog because my Mom, a fellow trauma and trafficking survivor, follows you on twitter. Reading this letter really resonated with me – your children are lucky to have such a strong, loving, confident mother 🙂

    My Mom didn’t begin recovering memories until I was about 12 years old, and she only shared a little about it at the time (to explain why we weren’t ever going to see or talk to her family of origin again). She shared the full extent of her abuse story with me two years ago. It was hard for me to process, I’ll admit, but I am so incredibly grateful that I know what she has been through and that these horrible things DO happen to people we know! I’ve always loved and appreciated my mother, but those feelings have deepened immensely since I’ve begun to fully grasp the obstacles she has overcome. I am so proud to have been raised by such a strong woman, and so grateful to be able to learn from her experiences. I know I will be able to protect my children better with the knowledge I have gained, and they in turn will protect their children. You are changing not only the lives of those living now, but generations. THANK YOU for speaking up and helping to break cycles of abuse!! You are doing a great work. Much love to you 🙂

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    • Thank you for sharing that with me. It really helps to hear it. If you don’t mind me asking, how old were you when she told you the rest of the story? Did you need help processing it? One of the most concerning parts of my recovery is when and how much to tell the kids.

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  5. Absolutely beautiful and heart felt….I identified so strongly with many parts of your post especially the apology for not giving your children an extended family…that was a tough one for me. Your honest candor, however, are such a better gift to your children, they will grow up with trust and safety. Blessings my dear and continue on with your fantastic healing and growing.

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  6. You are a strong brave woman. I hope someday I will be able to speak to my kids about my past but I have hid my past from my children because I am a coward. I don’t want them to look at me with pity or discust. I worry they won’t understand why I endured what I did and cause them to loose faith. I worry it will cause them to fear the world around them and not live their lives to their full potential. I worry it will change them in a bad way and I couldn’t live with myself to have my past define their future in any way shape or form. Someday when they are adults who are strong in faith and secure in the world maybe I will be able to tell them. Until then all they know is my dad was not a nice man and my family is not the kind of family you want to be around. They are my gifts of family and we have each other and as long as we have each other we will never have to worry about not being loved or cared for. Family is what you make it to be and ours is perfect for us.

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    • I think that is a personal choice. I made the choice to tell my children when I started writing on the internet using my real name. There is really no way to hide it from them. As long as you are doing your own recovery work, it is not necessary to tell them. It is whatever makes sense to you and your life.

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  8. What a beautiful article. As a mother of a toddler, I can feel the enormous love and wanting to better oneself for children. No I’ve never gone through the kind of abuse you’ve been through, I hope nobody does. It was just emotional abuse from my mother but left a scar which I’m healing by growing up again with my 17 month old son.

    Thank you for this- 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.”

    This is what I wanted to do. Thanks for reminding me. I chanced upon your site from a link Janet Lansbury provided in fb. Now I know why I did. Love to you.

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