I was a byproduct of one of the rare cases where a father won custody rights instead of the mother. All it took was thousands of dollars, character witnesses, and hiring a private investigator for the court to grant custody of me to my father. The woman who gave birth to me was synonymous with the F word. It was not talked about, especially at the dinner table.
I had mother figures and positive female role models throughout my childhood. There was never any doubt of that. But the truth about my birth mother was an open secret and was one that no one would talk about willingly for most of my childhood.
I grew up knowing my birth mother was not a good person. As a child, I was confused or didn't think much about it, depending on my age and developmental stage. As a teen, I began to wonder if it was just the result of a nasty divorce. The truth was much more haunting when I stumbled across it.
My grandmother had an old Windows 95 desktop that I enjoyed writing stories on and playing games like solitaire and mine sweeper. One day while looking for a story I had been working on, I found a file I hadn't seen before. It was a diary of sorts. As I began to read, I began to learn just how dark the past surrounding my birth mother was.
As it turned out, my grandmother kept a journal throughout the custody battle between my birth mother and my father. In it were details that explained why everyone was so reluctant to talk about her. Details of me being found left alone in a house in a dirty diaper while she went off to do God knows what (the popular theory was selling drugs), preventable ailments like rashes and infections due to neglect, and overall negligent practices on her part that could only be summed up as child abuse.
My curiosity about the mystery surrounding my birth mother dissolved into anger. What sort of mother would willingly do that to a child? Clearly, she didn't want me so why would I want anything to do with her?
I did read the court documents and testimony given by character witnesses, family members, and the private investigator that was hired. Somehow, the cold factual accounts came across as harsher than the journal. The pieces clicked into place one by one, and I remember thinking how thankful I was that woman lost her parental rights.
The anger slowly dissolved into an absence of caring as I grew older. I went off to college and the thought of that woman became a dark corner of my mind that wouldn't be thought about unless a therapist prodded at it with a stick. However, it wasn't a therapist that decided to wield the stick, it was my birth mother herself.
I received a friend request on Facebook while waiting for class to begin one day. I looked at the profile, wondering who this stranger with her smiling husband and children was when it hit me. This was my birth mother.
Several emotions washed through me at once. Panic, confusion, anger.
The lion, the witch, and the audacity of this bitch. How dare she neglect her child, only to send a friend request 18 years later? On top of that, what had she done to deserve these happy, smiling children sitting next to her in matching sweaters? I rejected the friend request and sent her a message saying if she had anything to say to me, it should be an apology for what she had done.
No reply was given.
Nearly 10 years have passed since I sent that message and I have never received a response. Every once in a while, I wonder if she will reach out again. Or if her new family knows what she did. I wonder if my siblings know they have an older sister or if they think I'm some heartless bitch. For the sake of my own peace, I let those wonderings be mentally buried alongside the woman who was only a negligent ghost living in court documents for most of my life.
I've come to the conclusion I do not want to know my birth mother as an actual person. Some people may argue that people change or give some defense about the stupidity of youth. I don't care. She made her choices long ago, and I have made mine.