How Do I

A letter to my daughter


This poem first appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of Voices Heard, published by Claire O'Leary of the Empowered Voice Traveling Exhibit


How do I

Support you

On your healing journey

Tell you how sorry I am

Because I failed to protect you


How do I

Nurture and nourish our relationship

Make up for lost

Time trust conversations awareness

Connection care security


How do I

Process

The grief pain loss

Not live in the past

Wishing for a do-over

Find peace

When memories and old photos arise

And I find myself thinking

About the burden you were carrying

Alone

Scared

So young

For so long

What I would do

To go back and have you know

That I would be there

To comfort soothe stand by

Stand up for

Believe

You


How do I

Do this

I am so ill-equipped

At times thinking feeling

Convinced I cannot

I write you so many letters

That I never send

Have so many conversations

With myself

Preoccupation and angst

Can take me away

From the present moment

And being there for the others

For that I am sorry

Another sorry

For I can see that the abuse

Not only impacts you

And me

But so many others too

How do I

Practice what I preach

Approach what’s uncomfortable uncertain

Build an awareness

Transform the suffering

Find purpose

When I sometimes feel

Anguish desolation heartache

A breath away

I am tired of their company

But I know

That I too

Am a being in progress

So practice I do

How do I

Find the balance

Between worry and respect

You’re an adult

Responsible for your choices

Though you may not

Be ready want to or know

What help you need

Where to begin or how to ask

I have vowed to never be naive again

To not remain silent if when I see

The tentacles of the abuse

Infiltrating

Your behaviors

Mental formations

Health safety well-being

In ways that you may not yet realize

Is it my place to say?


How do I

Express convey

Let’s be honest — convince

That honest awareness

Infused with nonjudgmental merciful grace

Of the symptoms and influences of the abuse

No matter what they are

Are not signs of weakness

But the pathway of healing

Of gently embracing yourself

Of reverent honest safe love

Of breaking free

Of peace

Of opportunity

Of all the things you deserve

Are worthy of

And I believe may be

The things you wish for too

How do I

Encourage you

To find trust use your voice

To know that putting your needs

Boundaries health safety first

Will guide you toward knowing experiencing

Kindness empathy acceptance genuine love

To understand that respect love contentment

Are not measured gained sustained

By likes dress size hair color

Or compliments from others

Instead conditions of happiness joy

Abundant wholesome living

Are born from

Compassionate love of self

A celebration of self

Exactly as you are

How do I

Say this

I love you for who you were are will be

Yesterday today tomorrow

As I’ve said

This is a mother’s

Grief sadness trauma shock

At the change in plans

And trajectory of your life

My eyes have been opened

To a new reality

There was a parallel universe

A version of you that was living with abuse

And I had no idea

It can feel like we are

Reacquainting building a bridge

Connecting finding our way back

To each other

Grateful I am for this second chance

At love with you

How do I

Make you see believe

All the things about you

I know to be true

The intrinsic nature

And essence of your soul

Filled with

Light Possibilities

Hopes Dreams

Joy Love

That you are

Loved and lovable

Capable talented

Strong courageous

Intelligent creative

Kind tenderhearted

So many things

You have yet to realize


How do I

Reassure you

That I, as Maya says,

Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now

For your truth has been set free my dear

And you no longer shoulder the burden

Nor walk this journey alone

Sure I may will stumble

At times feel weak and unassured

But I will never give up

Hope love commitment

To you

To us

Listening to and leading with my heart

Joy gratitude peace love

Will abound


How do I

There’s never a doubt

May you always feel know

That my intentions motivations are born of love

Encouragement support desire for your

Welfare safety freedom happiness

As you journey onward toward

Learning loving embracing yourself

How do I

Because

I want will pledge to

Always be here for you

My beloved child

Whom I carry in my heart

Compassionately tenderly

Respectfully lovingly

Gratefully joyfully

Sincerely,

Mom

As a little girl, my daughter would write me love notes and sign them “Sincerely”. One day I asked her why she chose that word as her complimentary close and she said, “Because it means you really mean it.” I learned of her incest abuse when she was 20 years old. This poem is a reflection of my journey, thoughts, and feelings. Most of all, I hope it is an expression of my love for her. No portion of this may be reproduced or reused without my prior, written consent.

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