Letter #97

Content Warnings: Parental stress, emotional abandonment, self-deprecation, depression, anxiety


Dear friend,


Not long ago, my mother cut down all of our feather reed grass. She told me it was too much of a hassle to bag it up nicely and throw it in the trash, so armful by armful, she tossed it in the firepit. The firepit was much too small for the reeds, which jutted out an entire arms-length out of the stone ring, and it made me nervous. I tried to warn my mother about it, but she seemed determined to burn it all no matter what.

She grew the fire for maybe thirty minutes, but nothing bad happened. Our lawn did not catch fire. Our house stayed intact. Other than four-foot flames that may have slightly worsened the air quality of our neighborhood, everything was fine. But the image of my mother hastily adding more and more to the fire, and her being deaf to all my words, stayed with me. I didn’t really get the logic behind the burning, because bagging up the reeds would have taken much less time than burning it.


I think she just wanted to burn something up at that time. 


My mother has been bearing the full workload of a single mother for many years now, with my father in another country and all her relatives far away. Afraid of the judgment of her relatives, she has brought all her problems to me instead since I was very young. We would sit at the dinner table together while I handed her tissues.

I didn’t think she had the emotional capacity to process any of my problems, which felt so insignificant compared to hers, anyway, so I rarely shared my deepest thoughts with her. The few times I shared, she exploded at me with anxiety or blame, so over time, I have learned to stay silent. It’s very suffocating. I have no one to share my existence, my dark thoughts with. Without my mother to talk honestly to or any close-enough friends, I think I have begun to sink into myself. Instead of eroding those around me though, I have begun to erode myself. I don’t know which is better or worse. 


Perhaps I am just thinking too hard and making an unnecessary metaphor out of everything. But…I think both of us have become very burnt out. I thought I would never grow up to become like her, but now I realize my mother and I are the same. We are both too tired of cleaning up things, so we would rather burn them up.

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