It was this thing I did a long time ago, when I couldn't really figure out why I didn't want to go home over break, or why I still hated my mother (according to her that was a phase all teenage girls went through, but I was 19 and had been away from home for two years and it hadn't gone away.) So I sat down and wrote out about three or four pages of either exact quotes ("I could have had an abortion, you know") or general messages, ("Your siblings are allowed to hit you because they're younger") that she had given me over the years. It was painful, and for a long time I couldn't get through the first page without starting to cry. It was draining, both to write and to read. But when I then went home, I think I'd started, for the first time, understanding why I didn't want to be there. I would recognize these horrible messages when she said them, because I'd written them down devoid of the context that she used to make them seem approprite.
About a year later I was going to go home again, and I found this document. I still cried when I read it, but I also started writing responses ("Your social life is your responsibility, not mine. Your choices are your own, and do not entitle you to anything, least of all pity.") Eventually each sentence had a paragraph response of why it wasn't true or right or acceptable. The only time I'd tried to contradict her before was when I was either too mad to stop myself or too far in trouble for it to matter. In the first case I wasn't in any shape to be articulate and in the second she was too irrational for it to matter, or usually for me to get to speak. So this was the first time I'd felt entitled to my opinions. This was the first time I'd validated my own experience, and accepted that maybe it *was* real. It was when I started dealing with the past, rather than trying to make it be okay.
Then, naturally, I decided that she really shouldn't have that much power over me, it shouldn't matter that much, and I was a horrible child anyway and probably deserved all of it, because any insight is followed by trying to ignore it. But the document stayed on my computer and now, four years later, I can read it without crying. I still feel deeply saddened by it, but I'm grieving for me now. I wish the sweet child I was, so eager to please, so desperate to be accepted, had been given messages of love, validation and caring, rather than made to feel responsible for the world. What I don't feel any more is guilty for having written it. I don't feel the need to hide my opinion of my mother from my boyfriend. I'm not all the way there yet, but I've started to believe that maybe I am entitled to my opinions, and maybe my responses are more sane than her quotes.