For some reason, around two years ago I decided to start googling my birth mother's name. She's not important, I wouldn't expect to find her there, but you never know. These days people google potential dating partners to see what pops up, and you'd be surprised who actually has an entry or two. It was my secret obsession, googling Dottie. I found one entry, and I couldn't stop searching for more. I found them, here and there.
The funny thing is, she's kind of a minor celebrity, or was, in a group called "Save our State" which is dedicated to rooting out all illegal Mexican immigrants in California. She's even patrolled the California Border with a group called the "Minutemen" and I can't imagine what an old woman would do if she came across a desperate family or group of men trying to enter this country to find a better life or a living wage. Was she armed? Did she carry a gun, or maybe a stick? This group that I researched and even joined so I could read their message boards is founded on hate and superiority, and can trace all the ills and woes of the state of California, and possibly the whole United States to the influx of illegal immigrants, and Mexican people in general. My "mother" is a part of a hate group. She is their martyr in a small way, or was for a while.
She gained her celebrity when in a protest about a statue that was erected in Baldwin Park she was hit in the head with a plastic bottle of water by the opposing side. The statue had an inscription that said something regarding the idea that California originally belonged to Mexico and the indigenous people who lived here before it was swallowed by the great US, and would one day return to it's original ownership. Half true, it did, but we all know the United States never gives back what it has digested. Apparently there were some people who were in favor of this piece of art being displayed and paid for by the city, and an opposition that she belonged to who came with hateful signs and were there to yell about it. The water bottle was thrown and it hit her in the head. She inflated that into some imaginary brain damage and tried to sue the city of Baldwin Park for a million dollars for not protecting her adequately.
It drove me mad, I was only able to find one picture, and it's blurry. She's referred to as a "66 year old grandmother" and I became extremely agitated at that description, she's seen Paul a few times, and the last time she saw Andrew he was a baby in diapers who didn't know how to crawl yet. That's the last time she saw me as well. She didn't know about Molly till she heard about her through the sick family grapevine and Molly was already about ten years old. "Grandmother." She has no right to that as a title. I took a sad and even sick pleasure at how decrepit she looked in that blurry newspaper photo. Truthfully, I'm not even sure it was her, I don't know if I would recognize her now, it's been over 23 years since I've seen her in person.
I am so amazed and yet not at all surprised that without speaking or discussing our political views for over two decades we manage to be opposed in political belief. She is involved in hatred and exclusion and I try in every moment to come from love and tolerance; to see the me in everyone, to know that we are all one part of the same thing. Why does it not cause me even a moment's pause to know that she and I are still opposite in everything that matters, the things that feed the soul and run the machine of our lives? Even on the "equality for all" issue we may differ, even though she has been in a relationship with the same woman for the last twenty-something years as far as I know. I don't know if they're out, or still "roommates" that share legal ownership of a house. She may have had the same lover since her last husband killed himself and still believe that "God hates Fags." That would be her style.
I contacted her lawyer, who promised me anonymity, just to get an email address so that I could write to her when I was ready. I got an email not two days later from her, all chatty and cheerful, and happy that I wanted to be in touch again. I was far from ready for that, but hey, I started it.
I did finally write and send her the letter, the one I have written and burned, written and deleted for years now. The first drafts were all about how I would kill her and why, and just why she deserved it. Then they morphed into letters of victimhood and how she had ruined my life, how I would kill her and why she deserved it. Then I started the series of letters about why I would never talk to her again in this lifetime, stopped talking about killing her, but gave every reason that she would never hear from me again and why she deserved it. I have worked on these dead letters with therapists, friends and my sponsor. The dead letters. I could have made a book of just those and their evolution. I never sent a single one, and there were hundreds of them.
The final letter, the one that made the cut, the one that fit all the criteria my spiritual and intellectual advisors had helped me out with was something like this:
"Here are the things that happened in my life and how they affected me then, how they still affect me now. Here are the questions I have about how a mother could do these things, because being a mother myself I can't imagine doing them myself. I'm on a path to forgiveness, and I really need to understand what you were thinking, how you justified those things to yourself. Maybe I could forgive you if I could understand you. My feelings about our relationship have colored every aspect of my life since my childhood and I'd like to let that go and I need your help. I would consider a relationship with you, but I need an explanation, and an apology in order to do that."
Of course it was more emotional than that, but I really worked hard to not do any name calling, or blaming, or demonizing. I tried to use "I" statements. I did the best I could. When I shared it with my current therapist she gave me thumbs up on it. I knew when I hit the send button I would get one of three responses, and knew I couldn't send it until I was ready for any of them.
She would deny it all, argue with me or just ignore it. Well Monty, she went for door number three. I have never heard from her again.
I suppose the reason I'm even thinking about these things this morning is that it's somewhere around the two year anniversary of the sending of that letter, and I just wrote again yesterday of the way that Angelique held me while I cried the tears that rightfully belong to Dottie, that woman who ejected me from her vagina, gave me her name, abused me for her own amusement until she grew bored and then walked away.
At the one year mark I did write a letter that said a lot of things that were along the lines of my wishes for how it could have been. I wrote to her about how I wished I could have shared with her the amazing woman I have become, the obstacles I have overcome. Despite what I have been through on my journey I would have liked to introduce her to the woman I am today. I would have liked to tell her of my three children and how unique each of them are, how we have close and uninterrupted relationships, how they are all destined for different greatness. How they all know they were wanted, and that they've never heard from my lips that my life would have been a better place without them in it. I would have loved to tell her about my daughter who is so close with me that we can finish each other's sentences, and how we can have whole conversations with a twitch of an eye and a lift of an eyebrow. How my daughter is the star that crowns my existence and has never cried one tear thinking that she was not meant to be, or at fault for my own troubles. I would love to have shared with her that all three of my children surpass me in their being, and that I wouldn't have it any other way. If you do it right your children turn out better than you are yourself, it's not a competition where you have to hold them down in order to win. I wrote a very long letter and hit send.
That letter vanished. It's not in the sent folder. It's not in drafts. It's nowhere. It was not meant to be shared, although I cried and poured my whole heart into it. It was just a writing exercise after all. I suppose it was just for me and my Higher Power, since we are the only two who ever read it. Oh well, you know about it now too.
So it's been two years now. It's been a long time since I checked my email every three minutes to see if she'd respond. I hated myself for writing her for a while, for twenty years or more I could go along and only think of her when something in my heart hurt, but I had no expectations. I hated that I had set myself up to have another hope to be dashed. I'm over that now. Eventually she'll die, and I think I'll hear about it. She is the one who will miss out though. She's just a hate-mongering, bitter old lesbian in a house in the desert and I am living in a world of wonder that is filled with so much love that it can overcome me and make me overflow like the Ace of Cups sometimes. I would have invited her in, all I wanted was an explanation and an apology. That's a fairly cheap price of admission I think, but maybe my pocket is deeper.