A Letter Translated From My Tongue

I have missed you.

I have yearned for you.

Everyday, I wonder about your health, your well being, what you’re up to, and what you’re not up to. Everyday, I recall your scandalous laugh, your practical intelligence.

When my tire goes flat, I ask myself, what would mom do? When I have a toothache, I ask myself, what would mom do? When my life becomes inundated with stress, I ask myself, what would mom do?

For so long, you have accused me of being incapable of love, care, respect, gratitude, empathy, patience, acceptance. For so long, you’ve labeled me as the worst, a little girl who is irresponsible, shameless, ridiculous, smug. For so long, you have taken confidence in your preconceived notions of me instead of taking in the reflection that stands right before your eyes.

No one can give back time lost. What’s left in place are all the memories – more negative than positive – memories nonetheless. Memories that have brought us lessons. For me, those lessons have come at a big price. It’s possible that I’ll spend the rest of my life paying the price for these memories.

You take so much pride in all the times you’ve hurt me. You laugh your great big laugh when you recant the ways you’ve hurt me. You say, “but she deserved it.” No one would agree. Even still, what’s done is done. What you’ve done, you’ve done.

What I wish for, more than anything else, is to communicate my thoughts without judgement. At the very least, I have the right to express my profound resentment. The right to say that your violent hands caused less damage to me than all the other times you omitted my existence. By this, I refer more specifically to the times you called me awful names, the times you weren’t supportive of my creativity. The times you didn’t trust in me. The times you compared me to other parents’ kids. The times you’ve confessed your life would be leagues better if you never had kids. All this, and more, hurts.


Tears apart my soul.

Clouds my thoughts.

So much so that I was convinced that was the treatment I actually deserved.

Convinced that that was normal.

It wasn’t until I left for college that I learned the opposite was the truth. I always had an underlying feeling that our relationship wasn’t conventional, but it wasn’t until I met so many new people, learned about so many diverse experiences, and took classes on various social topics, that I finally discovered all the toxicity that’s resided in our home.

I could never reprimand all your efforts and terribly long hours of work. Could never reprimand your decisions as a single mother – a desperate mother. I understand that your life, your luck, your fate, have not been ideal. I understand that you have done everything possible to satisfy our basic needs. Regardless, this is no excuse for all the damage you’ve done.

I decided to move to Korea because there was no reasonable way to move back home after everything I’d learned and experience during college. I learned about spirituality, self-love, learned to love my mind, body, and soul. I went to therapy and it turns out it isn’t strictly for crazy people! I created an identity – something I’d never had before. I got to know myself. In ways you’ve never come to know me.

After so many years of being away, not just geographically, but emotionally and mentally, I didn’t know how to come home without compromising the integrity of my newfound identity. This new self with a dark sense of humor, who’s brutally honest, who finds happiness in the simply things life has to offer. New newfound self found support, love, and family within this frame of skin and bones. And this isn’t to say that I am better than anyone. Not at all! But it has made me different. Those differences were illuminated under your roof when I moved back from Korea.

I know it was too much to ask for housing, food, and utilities. I considered myself entitled. When really I went overboard in that respect. But as your daughter, what I wanted most was your sincere love. It’s my eternal wish. I fear that’s not even possible.

That night, three months ago, August 25th, was not a good night for anyone. You spiraled into your violent attacks, Julio was wasted, and I threatened your citizenship just to express some sort of figment of imagined power. It was in that moment that I decided it’s best to leave once and for all. To avoid causing and enduring more harm.

Maybe now you live with peace and tranquility. Maybe now the house is calm and clean. Maybe now the room is occupied is more useful. I know these things matter so much to you – especially after all your hard work.

Mom, I understand you. As a woman – broken and tired. As a human – emotional and complicated. As a Latina – discriminated and violated. I understand your profound pain and trauma.

You house an astonishingly horrific history. Tales that not even demons could conjure. Even still, in order to know goodness one must know badness. And you must know what that means, truly. You are a museum of anguish and despair, of tremendous resilience. Even if you didn’t get a formal education, even if you weren’t blessed with a proper family, despite all that you haven’t given up. That, in and of itself, is something to admire.

I don’t feel well with what’s happened, with our broken relationship, with everything. At this point, I don’t even know what to do. I want what’s best for the two of us, for the family as a whole, for us as individuals. But honestly, I’m scared.

It was Sunday when I listened to your message that waited in my blocked box since the Wednesday prior. It was after I’d read a book of poems that brought up a lot of intense emotions. I heard your voice and cried. Wept. Realized. It was the voice of a caring mother, a genuine mother. The same mother I heard when I lived on the other side of the world. That voice is my weakness.

I miss her.

I yearn for her.



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