June 19, 2012

Dear Mama,
Thinking back I’ve solved a problem that has carried over into my adult life.  Into my intimate relationship with my husband.  It would have been difficult with any man, but this is the man I love.

Bath time created the problem.  Yes, bath time as a little girl.

You were a woman concerned with cleanliness.  Not just your home, or yourself.  But tantamount to the image of cleanliness were your children.

However, the cleanliness imposed on me, your only girl child, was searing.

Bath time, or so it seems to me as a mom, should have been a time not only of becoming clean but enjoyment.  A time when mamas and their children shared stories of the day, dreams of tomorrow, splashed the water.

But you were always about “teaching” us.  Bath time was when we talked of dirt and things that became or were dirty.

I don’t know about the boys and what you talked about with them, but with me it was about a “secret place” that no one was to touch, a dirty place that little girls needed to protect, and you made certain I knew this.

You also made certain this “secret place” was cleansed beyond doubt.  As you bathed me, it was the one place you scrubbed until the pain was searing.  And the pain didn’t stop then.  Nights I fell asleep wishing the burn would go away!

If I asked you to stop, you swatted my legs or behind with the flat palm of your hand.  If I cried about that, you hit some more.  There was nothing I, the child, could do to stop this, except grow old enough to bathe alone.  What a freeing day that was!  Or so I thought.

What had ever happened to you?  Why would you treat me this way?  Why chance ruining my relationships down the road?

Even now, I’m reluctant to allow myself to go to the pinnacle of joy when my husband wants to love me.  I draw back, and he has wondered why.  Finally, I have been able to share with him the why from my perspective.

Yet I still wonder about the why from your perspective.  Oh, I long to talk to you about so many things like this, and now you’re gone from me.  My words and feelings have been suppressed so long, but I’m finding myself now.  I can only hope you understand the need for these letters.

Loving you,