A Poet's Life

Mona Bethke

Home / 365 Days of Transformation / January 22, 2017 – A Poem of Apology

January 22, 2017 – A Poem of Apology

jan-22I have been attending weekly therapy sessions to work through my life traumas and PTSD. It has been a life-saver for sure. Being able to talk through experiences that have affected me in so many ways, is liberating.

One of the issues I have discussed with my therapist is the sense of guilt I carry that my daughter (my son was too young) saw the abuse I endured at the hands of her father. The first real memory she has is a severe act of abuse her father committed that seriously injured me. How devastating to think that is her first life recollection. My therapist recommended I write a letter of apology. I didn’t quite understand the concept behind that, because leaving the marriage and possibly losing my children (after having lost one from my first marriage), was not an option. I did eventually run, fast and far, but the demons came with us. I realized I could have run after the first beating, but fear held me back. My apology is grounded in the reality that I let that fear rule me for eight years while I endured the physical abuse and my children indirectly suffered the emotional abuse his actions created in their innocent little worlds.

I greatly regret that my children grew up without a father (he chose not to be involved in their lives), but I am eternally grateful that the remainder of their youth was with me working very hard to love them deeply and wrap them in that love and security so they could go into adulthood understanding that I love you is never preceded or followed by a fist.

For My Baby Girl on New Years Eve 2016 – 2017

In November of 2016
I voiced an apology –
to my daughter –
just a few months

past her 32nd birthday.
I told her I was sorry
that she grew up to believe
a man’s love

was vindicated by abuse,
of the body or mind.
Her memories of fists
that fluttered faster

than she could register
in her 6-year-old head,
propelled me into walls
already marked with imprints

of my previous submissions.
I owed her that apology
for not walking, no –
running away –

before the first bruises
had faded to yellow.
Fear overruled the truth
of this memory

in my young child’s
mind. It’s cyclical –
this belief
that creating children

in a love affair
is a reason not to escape.
I had not voiced
an apology to myself,

58 years into this life.
My pockets are filled
with so many stones
that weigh me down,

breathing becomes water
in my lungs, taking me under
only allowing me to surface
each time I take a rock

out of my pocket and toss
it aside, keeping the memory
of its weight in my cupped fist.
Daughter, I felt each tear you shed

when a man who professed love,
hurt you. I wanted to take my anger
and impale him with words
of admonishment I’d never pushed

through your father’s heaving
chest while he battered
me into believing I was worthless.
I failed my little girl

when I let terror
keep me bound
to the ugliness
of toxicity,

where I love you
was accented
by crimson patterns
on cotton shirts

and white walls,
bedtime stories
of please don’t believe
this is love.

I read this poem I had written to my daughter at 11:45pm on December 31, 2016, then watched the ball drop while we were on the phone. Her tears shattered my mind from 177 miles away when she asked why yet another relationship had ended because of emotional abuse. I have never felt so helpless that I couldn’t be there to comfort her. The upside…she is strong and determined enough to end the cycle so her daughter, my granddaughter, does not fall into the same pattern. I’m so very proud of her.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

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