My favorite person

Trigger warning: sexual harassment

My mom has always been transparent about her whole life to me. As I got older, we made it a point to have long chats about our lives and how different stages of our lives brought out different emotions. Now that I am a young adult, my relationship with my mom has morphed into an amazing friendship. She has become a safe space for me and a constant reminder that there is so much good in this world.

If you met my mom, you would know that she can light up any room with her smile and that her amazing energy makes everyone feel better. One thing I am trying to learn from my mom is how to move on. She cannot stay mad at someone, she rarely holds grudges, and most of the time, she will empathize with the person who hurt her. This is also the one thing that annoys me the most about my mom, as I sometimes feel she moves on too quickly. Feeling anger is healthy, acknowledging that emotion is normal.

At 22, I finally understood why my mom has always put forward a brave face.

A gruesome reality

From when my mom was 12 to 17, her uncle sexually harassed her. While this is not my story to tell, the reason I am sharing it is that the bravery my mom has shown is unparalleled.

Ever since I was young, my mom ensured that I had a great relationship with her side of the family. Given the fact that her side was settled in India, we would plan holidays there constantly. During these holidays, I spent time with my mom’s aunt and uncle and developed a close bond with them. They were both like bonus grandparents! This relationship got complicated for me when I was 14, and my mom finally opened up about what her uncle had done.

I was unsure if I wanted to have a relationship with him anymore, I was not sure if this was healthy for my mom. Also, I was so confused why she acted like things were okay for so long.

When my mom opened up about this trauma, I held her and told her that she was the strongest person I knew, but internally I was angry. I was angry that I liked this man. I was angry that this was a fact my family knew and pretended it hadn’t happened. Also, I was angry that this happens to women all over the world.

On my next trip to India, I asked my mom if she wanted me to hate him. She said no. I asked her if she wanted me to not speak to him, and she firmly explained that she wanted me to know the truth, but this was not my battle to fight.

Moving on: is it always black and white?

When my mom got married, she had her aunt and uncle perform a Hindu ceremony that is usually done by the parents. My mom’s reasoning was that her parents had done it for her sister already. But this ceremony also washes one from their sins. At that moment, my mom knew she had to come to terms with the fact that this man was going to be in her life. Her aunt and uncle did not have their own children. When my mom told my grandfather what happened, there was a great divide. This led to them not speaking to each other for a while. During her wedding, my mom decided to move forward.

It’s hard knowing that this is someone in your family or that someone chose to do this and faced no consequences. The worst part? Punishing him meant punishing his wife also, and she did not know what her husband had done to his own family members.

This is now a truth we all live with.

He never was able to do what he did to her to me, but he hurt me because he hurt the one person I love the most in this world.

When he passed away, I was not able to really feel anything. My mom cried with her aunt but also was able to focus on her work as if nothing happened.

I don’t think what my mom did was right, but I also don’t know what else she should have done. I do know that this is not a black and white situation.

My mom never made this her issue; she knew it was on him. This was his problem, not hers. She played no role. His actions only spoke about him, not her.

That is the story of how my mom moved on.

That is how I realized that my mom does not internalize other people’s emotions and carry around their burdens.

Because as a teenager, she came to terms that her uncle was the problem and not her. That someone else’s actions do not reflect who you are as a person.

I am sending love and light to everyone. Some of our hardest battles truly happen in silence.

Read also:
Dear Pakistan, Why Was She Raped?
The Frightening Truth About Domestic Abuse In The Age Of COVID-19
8 Organizations Fighting Against Sexual Abuse In The Arab World