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by

ariana sexton-hughes

WARNING: might be triggering with mentions of abuse, but they are not explicit in any way.

Dear Mum,

I don’t hate you.

I really don’t.

I know that you had a hard time.
…a really hard time…
Yes. I know this.
I do.
But, I hurt, too.

I’m sorry.
I know that you did the best you could with what you had.

And… sometimes…
…more often than you would have liked…
…what you had…wasn’t very much at all.

And…
I also know that you often pretended…
to have much, much, more than you really did…
…because you didn’t want me to ever see you struggle as a single mum.

It didn’t matter if you had to beg or borrow or steal…
…or borrow some more and more and more and more and more and more and more….
…you never, ever, ever, wanted me to view you as the failure you believed you really were.

So, you tried this and that…
…and that and this and this and that and this.
“I know. You tried.”
But, none of it never really worked out.
“Yes.”
You had your portrait taken…on maybe…one too many an occasion.

Yes, you tried your hand as a thespian.
But, one supposes…
…it’s much too hard to be a star…
…when your entire “act” is always
…ever so very far…
…………………..from whom you really, really are.

So…you spent your whole life trying to figure it all out…
…seeking something…anything…anything that worked…
in any way…
at all…

And that day…
…never ever came.
I know.
It’s a shame.

And, yes, I am very, very, very sorry
for listing everything that hurts.
Because I know…I really know…
how much all of this is so, so very shameful
to someone with so much beauty and brilliance… and pride.

But, you can no longer hide…
No… Not from me. You can’t.
Because… I know how very alone you are…
so alone… because you never really “found yourself.”

Yes.
I know.
You never found your…. “you.”

But, still, for a long time, you tried.
I know you tried.

And…
…every time you got close…
…something seemed to crumble…
…spiriting away what little you thought you might have been able to accomplish…
…ever farther and farther and farther from your ever-so-elegant grasp.

Yes. I know this…I do.

And, I know you want to say: “What’s it to you?”

“Everything,” I might exclaim.

But, I realize now how very wrongly I presumed…
…that you were either too drunk or too high…
…or too hung-over…
…or…
…just a bit too depressingly self-possessed…
…to quietly endure…
…as so many other mothers bear, indeed…
…all those days in which you screamed:
“I just need some fucking peace!”
“Please!”
“Can’t you just give your mum a moment’s rest???”
yes………………..
yes………………..
yes………………..you left me crying…
…collapsed…in fright…….
…..hating…
…..you…
…..really loathing…
…..you….
…..as your svelteness indignantly vanishes
…..into your darkened master suite…
…..lost to our world for hours upon hours upon hours…
………………………………………………..on end.

“No.”
“Yes.”
I had no idea…how bad it might be,
as the hours turned into…
…….days…

You huddled tightly prone…
swaddled ever-so-softly between your vintage silk pajamas,
your smooth-talking, king-sized silk sheets,
and your $15,000 silk-encased-ivory-colored eiderdown…
Those weary broken eyes of yours almost always ominously occluded
by one of your elegantly austere
ebony aromatherapy eye masks…

I thought it was me you reviled.
I had no clue.
No one knew…
but, it was almost always one of your now better understood
(and famously omnipresent) migraines,
the very same scourge which haunted your mother,
and your mother’s mother, and so many, many, many generations of our line…
likely to be traced back to a fragile, but cunning duchess,
serving with extraordinary grace, cunning, avarice, and determination,
at the inner circle of some sumptuously obscure pre-war Central European court…

“Yes,” you might smile.

“Yes,” I surmise…
…….one migraine-addled brain at-a-time….
…all…the way…
…down…
…to…
…me.

“Yes. I see.”
“Yes, indeed.”

You see, dear mum,
I now understand
that our only true inheritance
is that of our fabulously fanciful genetic code….

Yes…..we might be striking in appearance
……….and gifted of mind…
……….but, beneath the surface,
……….our physical and emotional capacities
……….are indeed,
……….far, far, less than sublime…

Yes, the underlying genetic sequences
defining our deeper physiological and psychological structures,
particularly the genetic programming for our emotional steadiness and self-restraint,
our spinal and musculoskeletal solidity,
gastrointestinal predilections,
and our overall constitutional strength…
range from…well…
the most ridiculously unstable to…
the utterly inoperative…

Therefore and thus,
I have come to know myriad means
by which we find our broken, bony bodies
fending off a seemingly incessant torrent
of unrelenting physical, emotional, and spiritual… pain.

Yes. I know you, dear mum.
We share so much….
…………….almost everything in common.
…..MMMMMM…..maybe not quite….everything……
…..but at the very least…
…..we share altogether too much of the same quagmire…
to be anything but…uncommon.

“Yes.”
And, you might as well learn the truth…
….I know now…. that….
……you….
………..were also….
…very much the object of…
…..considerable… physical…
…emotional…and… spiritual… abuse.

“Yes.”
…..I know this.
It’s unfortunate.
But, I do.
“I’m so sorry…”
You were mauled…and broken…
……not only by the men in your life…
…men with whom you may have held incredible esteem…
…even reverence…
…..and trust…..and, as always…
…..an unyielding faith that “it will all turn out…”
“No. No. No.” you object.
my frustration is best unspoken.

Dearest darling mum…
I do recognize…
…..your trust was born not of star-struck naiveté.
“No. No. No.”
It is quite clear as day…
…Your faith was built upon an inexhaustible,
well-established,
professional esteem…
…..a deep reverence for often decades of true accomplishment
…..voluminous respect for their triumphal achievement(s),
and profound regard…
…..for their endearing efforts…
…………..to make you their next and greatest star…
“Yes.”
These men made careers.
And, to be held by their utmost affection meant first class tickets
to Paris, London, Tokyo, and Berlin.
To be within their embrace and care meant to soar among the highest echelon…
the élite of the élite, the top.
“Yes….”
And thus, you might agree…
…..that you believed…
…as do so, so very many semi-brokensouls…
…..these… could do no wrong…
…..no…none…
…..none at all.
“I believed.”
Indeed.
To you, and many, if not most others, their word…? ……….Golden.
……….Their attention? Ideal.
……….Their affection…?

…………………Sublime.
…………………Their connections…?
………………………………..Effective.
“Yes.”
Of course.
(Ever so sarcastically to self): “How could these men form anything less than eternal, everlasting bonds
with those whom they endeavored to cultivate into womyn so deserving of their realm?”

Unfortunately, it is only now that I have come to realize
the folly inherent
in that seemingly so reasonable paradigm
of calculation, logic, and design.

While I might have been taught to think critically about politics and art,
fashion, film, theatre, dance, and design,
it might seem strange…
……..that I could never really read between the lines…
………………..and such lines… we now know…
…are really, never, ever all that “blurred…”
…especially not as that horrifying song infers.”

“No.”
No.
For one born of…not quite neglect…
but rather left to sadly suffer from the jaded interpersonal inattention of one’s mother…and…

…..I’m sorry. I’m so, so, so very sorry, but…
…..an often cruel paucity of affection, verily disguised as…“learnings in self-reliance….”

“Yes.”
…..You agree?
Well, then.
It’s hard…
but I shall dispense the sense of sarcasm you now feel.
I shall compose myself and ((((breathe))) and deign to feel.
“Breathe.”
“A moment, please.”
As I was about to declare…
… Thus and therefore…
… you must have come to comprehend…
… when one learns to live without the love one craves…
… when they’re far too small to grasp the true source of one’s parents’ hate…
… they have few choices…
… too few choices, in fact.
If they are super super super strong,
they might manufacture
another means to feel affection.
They might long for adoration.
They might realize,
quite soon, indeed,
that true attention
is the very first of their needs.
Such might be sought
through intense self-perfection,
through athletics,
academics, art, drama, design,
or dance.

…..Still, even such seemingly positive feats
might befoul one’s inner workings,
should the pursuit of perfection,
lead not to adoration,
but…
…isolation.

And so, in my self-inflicted pseudo-innocence…my improbably anointed naiveté…it was only just recently that I come to realize…through the astoundingly amazing activism of womyn like “The Models Alliance,” the ways which you endured…so much…at the hands of so many, many more other men…than those I had already assumed.

I am sooooo sorry that my little bubble of disinterest in your business… and blinders to all that YOU might typically endure kept me from seeing that the men responsible for your hypothetical advancement as a model, as an actor, as…whatever…wrought things so especially perverse.

I now know how so many a caress, led to much, much more horrible demands…. demands far, far above and beyond those discomforting calls to undress….

for far too many castings… and photographers… for all those the directors and writers and producers… and, of course….oh, yes, yes, yes, of course…those omnipresent, omnipotent, ever-omniscient hordes of dealmakers and breakers and movers and shakers and wannabees and fakers… feigning those superfantastic fortunes at all of the most fantastical functions, posing so frightening important as these fabulously efficacious financiers…  arbitrageurs and entrepreneurs…. when we all know that the money… the real money… the fuel… the actual funds… always, always, always came from some other mysterious stranger’s off-shore accounts.

Yes. Yes. Yes. How cold and cruel could it all be?
“VERY CRUEL,” you say.

Yes, so, so very cruel indeed…
So cruel… like you…I hid beneath my very own personal set of custom-built,heavily armored duvets…
…inch upon inch upon inch of unfortunately imaginary, pestilence repellent,super-stealthy, super-hardened steel.

“I know…….yes, I know.”
…..And…
……….I know how you pretended…
…even as you found yourself
emotionally, physically, financially…
…upended.

……….You…
…………….smiled.
…………………..and went about your life.
…You played along…
……………….I played along…
…never really showing how deeply you were injured…
…and offended…devastated….and denuded….

…..”No.”
…..”Yes.”

You may have whined about your many, many mistakes…
but, you never really let me in on your real world, your inner sanctum, yourchildhood, how…exactly how… your fantasies, your dreams….went frommarvelous… to utterly and entirely ….disgraced.
No. No. No.

As I look now,
with a better understanding,
and a new sense of knowing,
I see something very, very different than just those infamous hissy fits on El Camino Drive,
the breakdowns on West 22nd Street,
and the implosion in that rent-a-Porsche…
…..somewhere between the backlot at Fox…
…..and those bleak brutalist towers of Century City’s Avenue of the Stars.

I can almost taste those micro-moments of maniacally maudlin manipulation,
dangling ever-so-deliciously above each wretched twitching
of your dramatically depressive desolation, despondency, delirium, and despair.
yes.
you lost it again, and again, and again, and again,
crushing even the most miniscule of accomplishments
you might have messily collected along the way.

“No. No. No!” you scream.
Your dreams, eviscerated by the dramas,
for which you might have been lauded,
had they appeared on-screen,
and not on the street.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/ariana-sexton-hughes/dear-mum/671789656241078

“I’m sorry.”
I know it hurts, knowing that performances which might have garnered Oscar® after Oscar® after Oscar®
had they been seen in the darkness of 2300 multiplex screens,
endured only pitifully painful glances, when performed live and uncensored over steak tartare,
blue fin… or even worse…
when performed amid the late summer Thursday mid-Manhattan crush of European luxury sedans
some three-and-a-half hours before dusk.
“No. No. No.”
How can I possibly hate you, when I gazeupon your beautifully haunted steel blue eyes?
What’s left, but to cry?
And so…
………….now, I look…
……………….and…ever more clearly…
….I see…
…………the purity of that omnipresent pallor…
…that unjustly pale and painful truth….
………..just moments behind your gaze….
…..yes, I see…
………………an anger…. so… crushing…
…an anger… so cruel… ….an anger… so… cunning… …an anger….so…. relentless….
………..so… ever deep inside… just behind….
…….those terrifyingly exquisite…
…….but, ever distant, eyes….
…..Once again… displaced
by yet another
uncertain,
sadly determined smile,
…..once again and all-too-often occluded….
…..by the gloriously glamorous façade…
…..that one refers to as your face…

No. We dare not name their names.
Yet, the deeds…
…..of these omnipresent evildoers…
….need never be your undoing.
“No,” you cry.
“No,” I nod.
Nonetheless, you begin to sob…
…..not a hearty, heartfelt, rolling sob…
…but, rather…
……………..a scathing, searingly secret snivel…
…so sadly sanctimonious that…
…….I wonder for whom you really mourn.
And…
……even though the pain seeps with startlingly simmering sting, I see littlebeyond your seething…
….until…
….almost accidentally…
…your grieving touches something…
………………………………..new.

Now, I know.
This thing we share…
………………….this pseudo psychic sense of doom
……so acerbically
………burning between us
………like the acid of our gastro-esophageal reflux….
“Yes.”
I know… your never-ending pain…
…your incalculable
……………shame
I know now…
It all begins with you….
Yes.
It’s true…
And thus, I recognize…
…. your tears…
…..are no longer allegorical…
….. nor metaphorical…
“No.”
they are all so very, very real.

Sadly, this is so.
They’ve welled so long…
…delicately bleeding behind that steely blonde façade…
…a pressure, way beyond…
…any practiced notions of “mindfulness…”
…or “breathing….”
…nor any other form…
…of physical or mental…
………………………control.
……No.
……No.
“No,” you barely whisper.
Yet, it’s not a whimper.
No.
It’s an affirmation.
You….
……..now dare to disclose…
you are no longer the sole and solitary monarch
of that lavishly exclusive island
your ever-polished,
glaringly gorgeous visage…
….That face….
….Yes….
That face…
That face
That face that should have been,
could have been,
would have been,
had you…
not
been
you.

“Yes.”
I know it hurts.
It hurts beyond reason.
It hurts beyond any known definitionof discomfort…
……………….or pain.

Perhaps, I can be soothing.
Perhaps, I cannot.
But, now I know that deeper truth.
Of all that pain
and rejection
and nihilistic self-abandon
Much of it….
“Yes…”
Much…of it…
…………………wasn’t even close to being…
…..”your” fault.

“I forgive you, my mum.”
“I do. I forgive you.”

For I know now…
through some other band of womyn,
some, as beautiful as you,
some, mere shadows of your glow….
that…. you…were not…alone.
“No.”
You were never, ever, ever… truly… alone.
“No,” you might squirm…

There. I’ve said it.

The tears of sudden understanding
and acceptance
now streaming,
so silently
from the ever-glamorous roots
of your
Dior-intensified,
yet
lavishly languorous lower lashes
down your gloriously chiseled,
semi-celebrated zygomatic arches,
seeping, so sinfully
….blackening….
….besmirching….
yes….dripping all those decades of darkness…
…….despondency… and dejection…
…down and across…
…….those so lovingly contoured constructions…
….of human alabaster and bone…
….bleakly wreaking havoc upon all your hard work….
the foundation of which…
…so superspecially formulated
by your friends
at La Prairie
Lorac
and
Francois Nars.

“I’m so sorry I’ve made you cry.”
“I didn’t mean to… I didn’t even really try.”
“No. Don’t lie.” I think to myself.
But, in fact, this is not a lie.

I had no idea where any of this might take me.
A picture caught my eye….
Some kind of protest….
A petition.
Some creep born of certain privilege,
blinded by his sickness,
desperation,
and degenerately derelict ideations.
A rapist, to some.
An opportunist, to others.
But, the more I read, the more I knew his despicable predilections to be true.
No. I was not his victim.
And, no, I don’t believe you were his special prey.

But, but, but, I am certainly quite certain,
you were a victim of others just like this man…
…some…. so much more powerful…..
…some…..
…so, so, so, so, much, much, much more than worse.
And, I realized something truly frightening.
What happened to you…
….was….
……in some very twisted, sadistic way….
passed along and down to me.

“Please don’t scream.” I quiver.
You might be inconsolable.
But, I continue.
I have no choice.
We must endure.

“PLEASE, mum. It’s not your fault.”
….Yet, once again, you have that distant look…
that ever-glorious gaze…
that oh-so-very narrow sinter of confidence….
…yes…
that delicate crust of genuine, natural beauty,
which lays in wait beneath the layers of melting polish, professionalism, and poise.

“It’s so okay. I understand. I really, really do.”
Daubing your wounded face-paint with a moist Frette towelette,
I realize now that you learned what you learned,
you did what you did,
you hid what you hid,
to protect me,
to shield me,
to hide what you could of me,
from you knew could become of me….
…as best you could…
…even if…
…even if…
…it didn’t always work………………….

So….
You got by…
sort of.
You made things look as okay as you could.
You pretended life was better than it was.
….And I now know that “he”…
….and, all those many other “him(s)”…
….consistently conspired with your hereditary tendencies towards self-hate,self-sabotage, and self-destruction to destroy any and whatever shards of the marvelously fabulous “inner you” that might have been left….
…………when what was done… was finished.

“I know.” I soothe…
….And, my heart breaking…
I want to hug you.
…And hold you.
…And tell you that it’s all going to be okay.
But, I can’t.

I try.
But
I can’t pretend that it is all…
…sooooooo, sooooo very different, now.

You smile, I think.
And you reach forward.

And, maybe, I dream. I think it’s a dream.
Maybe, it’s just some random thought.
But, it feels like…
…..yes, it really feels like…
…..for the first time in my life….
…..you actually want to be my mother.
“Yes.”
I believe, in this moment, you’re determined to right each of the wrongs that were passed down from you to me, from mother to daughter…

“Yes.”
In my dream, I feel you confess.
In my dream, you tell me exactly…
….how you allowed your pain to became my own.

And, in this trance, you reveal, perhaps in a certain amount of all-too-lurid detail…
…..how, in fact, every horror that befell you, somehow, in some way,strangely found a path to me.

“How could that be?”
I wonder… from the safety of our trance….
“How is it possible that the cruelty, and violence, and vitriol, you endured could have anything to do with me?”

The innocent dissociated me….cannot even fantasize the possible riposte.
“No.”
The incredulity of the ever-too-innocent,always dissociating little me, cannot begin to fathom how the damage inflicted upon you by each and every one of all those many, many, many abuse-hers could ever find its way to me? …..And, perhaps… to all of us… I ponder.
“Please…”
The stronger part of me, the survivor in me, doesn’t struggle long for the ultimate rejoinder.
“How could the abuse NOT be passed on?”
I muse to my dream-self.
“How could a broken soul NOT need to fight for every scrap of sanity?”
“How could one in constant emotional pain NOT be unavailable every moment of every day?”
“How could one hurt by so many, so often, NOT disappear into another world for days, and weeks, and months, even years at a time?”
“How could one so inured to pain,not fail to consider how corrosively it passes between two whose lives are so completely intertwined?”

“Yes…” You reply.

But true surrender isn’t possible, as submission to reality would mean forfeiting your parental power….

Yes. It’s hard.
It’s really, really, really hard…
…because I know that this is, very much, the case:
…your pain passed from another onto you…
…and from you onto me…
…and from me…. onto… myself.
…again and again and again and…
…again.

So, yes, I’ve come to understand the horrifying genetics of mistreatment, cruelty, and abuse.
I’ve come to understand how your pain could become your daughter’s pain… how your shame could become… our shame.

No.
I won’t name names.
I have no intention to draw attention to all those unseemly pseudo-amorous affections.I’m your daughter after all. It would only provoke those ever more hideously contorted confabulations, fancies, and moral derelictions by those who can afford to game the system.
No. No. No.

That is not the point.

The core consideration is quite simple.
I have come to an understanding.
As ghastly it might be, I now thoroughly comprehend the means by which the consistent, often relentless, untoward attentions of certain and specific evil little men… …(however brief and however“innocent” it may have appeared to “them,” in their twistedly evil little eyes)…could have reverberated so painfully for all of these years…
and years…
and years…
even… decades…
and beyond…

And, thus we found said attentions and (dis)affections progressively dissolving each remaining shred our inner dignity…..
…..burning away so many of the little niceties that once nourished us….
……………………….devouring our sweet and savory emotional sustenance, such as hope and faith and joy, altering every nuance of our lives,deforming our very DNA, as if some poisoned by some mutagenic compound, caustically corroding the centers of souls.

so…
I now understand that your traumas…
…your dramas…
…your untold agonies…
…are not entirely your own…

And…lacking the relative effects of consistent, intensive insightfully productive psycho/emotional therapy…
…or a profoundly spiritual cleansing…
…or.. psychic transformation…
…the contagion of abuse…
…the venom of each abuse-her continues to contaminate…
…to poison…
……………generation after generation…
after…
generation.

“Yes. It’s so true,” you stammer.
And, we breathe.
The tears, now streaming from your lovely cheeks down your neck…
their blackness so dark, I can almost hear them scream.

“No. This is not a dream,” my mind whispers to itself.
And, it is in this moment, I feel something I’ve rarely felt.
I feel something so warm, it’s chilling,frightening, in fact.
“No. This is not a dream,” I softly exclaimed.
Without further thinking… with love…
……………………………we embrace.

Part of me is floating…
……………….floating far away…
………………………………with joy.

And yet… part of me feels so turned away…
…overwhelmed…
……..empowered….yet, weakened…and thus…
I can’t help but say…
…“Mumsy…I’m sorry… But, it really hurts to be held.”

In a moment of clarity…
…..you gently pull back and softly opine:
“We mustn’t remain victims, no matter what…”

And, I want to say, “Yes. I know.Now is the time. We must rise up.”
But, it hurts to breathe.

And… all I can think of is how much it hurts…
…….to know…
…….what they did to you.
…….And… how much it hurts…
…….to feel what they did to me.
How much it hurts…
…to see you …as you have become.
And… how much it hurts…
…….to be the me that I have become.
(((breathe))))
“It all just hurts… soooooo, sooooo much.”
“But, we must heal,” you implore.
“Yes,” I whisper.

We must transform.
We must move from victims…
…..to survivors.
We must become stronger than their venom.
We must become stronger than our shame.
…..And, whatever we do….
…..we must END this cycle of pain…
here and now…
………today.

“I’m sorry,” I mutter in my mind.

(((Breathe)))………
…………”But, you say…
………… when you look at me,
………… you see yourself.
………… That scares me.
…I can’t afford to be you.

I can’t.

It’s too expensive…
…emotionally…physically…
…psychically…spiritually…
…financially…and………….socially.

I can’t do it anymore.
I can’t let you ruin it all for me.
“No.”
I have to be another me.
A stronger me.
A tougher me.
My own special me.

And, it hurts.

I’m crying.
“I can’t be like you.”
“I can’t pretend to be like you…
……to make you…like me.”
“I can’t.”
“Okay?”

“You can cry,” you allow.
“I can cry?” I wonder aloud.
“We can cry, together,” you insist.
((breathe))
I’m tempted ask aloud: “But, mum….while I forgive you for everything that’s happened,
could you please, please, pretty f*cking please… just let me be (me)?”

But, I can’t do that. I can’t. This moment is about forgiveness and letting go and healing.

“Mumsy… I do forgive you… It’snot all your fault.”

“WHAT?” You snap.
As if possessed, you exclaim:
“I thought you were sorry…for…everything you put me through,
after realizing how much pain I’ve been in…for everything I endured for YOU!”

All at once, it seems as if everything
has been forgotten.
What we shared (so unfortunately)
What we endured (so hideously)
It’s as if we’ve shared nothing (but pain)

So evil, this infection…
from the abuse(hers) to mother to daughter…
this poison……..

Everything good is gone.

I want to scream.
But, I can only sob….

Can’t you just…
Let me live?
Please?
Let me thrive
Please.
Let me learn how to drive.
Let me write.
Let me dance.
No longer, can I starve away my shame.
No longer, can I carve away that name.
So, please, please, please….
Let me learn to love.
Let me learn to hope.
Let me learn to know…
that it just might…
…just might…
…possibly be… all okay.

If you can let me go…
…you can hold me.
If you can set me free…
…you can feel me…
…the real me…
…the ‘me’ that once loved life.

… “Can’t you see?”
… “Please?”
… “For me?”
i forgive (you).
set me free.
please

with all my love,

your daughter,

ariana sexton-hughes
the daughter i want to be

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