The smell of hay and sweat mingled in the still air surrounding us. I sat uncomfortably, pushing my crossed legs against the door of the convertible. The seat belt tightened across my chest as I inched further away from the center of the car. We sat parked a few meters away from the gate to our housing complex.
I could feel her stare piercing through me, begging for some sort of expression she could hold on to. My hand gripped tighter around my horseback riding crop as I absently glared into the vacant night street.
The unfinished conversation hung over our heads, heavy with anticipation and uncertainty. She wanted some answers, she wanted something that could help her make sense of what our relationship had turned into. Anger and resentment filled my chest. All of the unspoken disappointment and grief that I had kept from her, caused from the past few years, were finally boiling to the surface. I knew it was unfair of me to expect her to know or understand without me explaining it to her, but it was easier to blame her for this instead of accepting what was happening. The second I shared this with her, everything would change.
Profound guilt began to linger through my body, I had been so cold and disconnected for so long, it didn’t feel safe to open up again. It was too painful. I knew she loved me and nothing would change that, but I was her perfect daughter. I was the perfect daughter that was about to crush her soul.
“Mom, there is so much you don’t know and so much you will never be able to understand,” I said as I continued to look blankly ahead of me.
She sat silently, the only evidence of her presence were the sounds she occasionally released as she wept. It was too agonising to look at her when she was like this. Her eyes red and pleading, her skin blushed and splotchy, moist from the residue of tears cascading down her face.
“These past two years have been so hard and you were never around to see it or offer support. You were so involved with your own life, it was like you forgot you had children. Your friends became your family while your family became dispensable.” I knew my words had cut through her as she attempted to hide her sobbing.
Again, the car filled with uncomfortable silence, and not even the sweet hum of traffic could penetrate the seemingly disconnected world we had created.
“When I tell you what I am about to tell you, I need you to not touch me.” For the first time in an hour, I turned my body and faced her. The shock of my direct action was painted across her face and she knew the only appropriate response she could provide was a nod. I could feel tears welling up behind my eyes and I felt like my throat was going to shut. Don’t cry.
“Over the past year or so…” My heart began to race. I can’t say it out loud. I can’t do this. I returned my gaze to the road ahead of the car. I didn’t think this was going to be so difficult.
“…I have struggled with an eating disorder.” As the words came out of my mouth, I felt a surge of sharp pain, then the feeling of powerlessness wrapping around my neck and suffocating me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her hand timidly approach me. I recoiled deeper into my seat, hoping it would eventually shield me from this conversation.
She could no longer hold back her emotions and began to openly wail, the sound breaking the barrier we had established from the rest of existence. Guilt overwhelmed me as I sat and saw the deep regret and blame my mom had been holding in her heart. Yes, she had fucked up in the past, but these past few months she had been trying to reconcile things and I had used every opportunity to push her away. To get back at her. She may of been unintentionally absent, but I had been purposely cruel. I reached my hand out and placed it on her shoulder, shifting my legs to face her.
“I’m sorry that I blamed you for this, it wasn’t your fault. It isn’t your fault. It’s no one’s fault. I was in so much pain and it was easier for me to paint you as a bad guy than to accept reality. I should have been honest with you. I should have been vulnerable. You had no way to know. I forgive you and I hope you can forgive me.”