A Letter From Theresa

I have always known I was a replacement child and I always knew my name was somebody else’s…I was born three years after my parents lost a 3 months-old baby and I was named after her; I have a second name which is a reference to resurrection, so, I am ‘the little angel’ resurrected.

Pen on Paper

My parents always alluded to this lost child and there were pictures of the baby in the living room all my life until we had a conversation when I was in my 30s about it and my mom put the pictures in her bedroom. This conversation didn’t go well at all with both my parents but particularly with my mother who wouldn’t hear about my pain as a replacement child. In the photo albums, it is impossible to say when pictures of me start and when hers stop; we are merged.

I have had more than 10 years of therapy with different therapists but deep down I know that I struggle because I am a replacement child. 

I teach a foreign language in a secondary school and I guess it’s been my escape: my true self could exist in another language far from the deathly atmosphere of my house. 

I still feel very responsible for my mum she was very kind when I was sick, but not really tender to me as a child. There’s always been this child between my mother and I, when she looks at me, she sees someone else and she also sees this impossible mourning that she’s been going through and that never ends. My mum keeps telling the story of her losing her child as if it had happened yesterday and each date reminds her of something, it’s as if time had stopped some 49 years ago when she lost this baby and I can understand that and at the same time I can’t understand why she was never able to welcome me into her life and to be happy again. 

My mother had two miscarriages before me, so I am actually the fourth child. I have been through three miscarriages myself, when I was in a very destructive relationship with a man. I know that me not being a mother is also partly linked to the fact that I was born this way.

Now, after becoming more conscious of the long-term repercussions of the replacement child situation, I have started a new job. I am also stopping to sacrifice myself to save others or, rather as I have realized, failing to save others… 

I had felt responsible for my parent’s happiness but in the past, we could not even speak about the lost child and what it meant for me; it was a forbidden topic. I recently asked them to tell me about the day when the baby died; they told me and I cried as if I was meant to feel the emotions that had been buried within them. I have told my mum, it has been rough for me, and that I realise I have to stop being her comfort doll.

Opening this door to becoming truly myself had been forbidden for so many years, now it is becoming possible…  It may seem that I am going in circles but I am getting nearer and nearer the truth of what it means to be this child: who I am and where I belong.