A Response to Mom’s Letter from Emma


Dear Mom,

Thank you for your letter.

I remember when you first started your therapy, you told me it was YOUR fault that I had the struggles I did and I said “cool, it’s not my fault!” as a joke. But I realize now those words you spoke hold so much truth.

In your letter you said your desires for me have changed, but your love has not. You loved me when you were a Christian and you love me now that you are not. I one hundred percent believe this.

In fact, because I knew you loved me growing up, as my Christian mother, it was hard to understand why I struggled. When you think about the kids that go “bad” they are usually ones with a broken home. I had no visible issues in my home. My parents were still together and they were hard working, loving, Christian parents. We went to church on Sundays, spent holidays with extended family and even had family game night on the weekends. So why did I feel inadequate? Why did I have negative self talk? Why was I so insecure? Why did I go “bad”? Until you started your own therapy and were able to pass on some new knowledge to me, my questions went unanswered.

When I had my daughter a little more than six years ago, I hadn’t resolved those issues quite yet but I at least had my motherly instinct kick in. This led to a series of events and ended with me moving back in with you and dad for about two years. For this I am grateful because living with you is when I think you were able to pass on your healing to me.

I was 22 years old, recently separated (later to be divorced), working full time, had a one year old, and I had just moved back in with my parents…Life wasn’t exactly going the way I would have liked. You were going through therapy and sharing different parenting techniques with me. From what you’ve said, it’s what you wish you had known when raising Dustin and me.

One of the most impactful things you taught me was that I needed to be there for Elena emotionally. That she should have a secure attachment to me. I didn’t know this!! Why didn’t I know this? It seemed so simple! I now realize it is because I didn’t get that with you or dad as a kid. And that is where my “issues” came from. Even though I had two loving parents, they were dealing with their own “issues;” they were emotionally unavailable and shoving Christianity down my throat because it is what helped them deal. But it wasn’t helping me deal.

I’m so freaking happy that you went through your own therapy because it helped me come into my own self without me even realizing it!!

During those two years of living with you as an adult raising my own child, I was able to get that love, validation, or whatever it was that I didn’t get as a kid. And to be honest you didn’t do anything super different then when I was a kid. We talked, hung out and you were my mom. Just like when I was a kid. But you were YOU. I felt that you were you; and I felt that you were ok with who I was, whoever that was going to be.

I know that is why I am able to be myself now. I know it, not because you’ve told me but because I experienced it. I felt it happen, I enjoyed every minute of it, and I can reflect back on it and realize that is what did it.

It’s hard to explain and I’m sure you could explain it with all your therapy terms, but all I know is that those insecurities I felt as a child / young adult are no longer there, or at least not nearly as strong.

I am confident in myself.

I am confident in the decisions I make. I am confident in the mistakes I make.

I’ve realized I’m very social. I love being around people but I also know I need alone time to recharge.

I’m not afraid to try new things. I’m not afraid to fail.


I realize that who I am comes from inside me and can be influenced from who and what I surround myself with.

I also realize that who I am can constantly change. Change is a huge part of life. Being able to deal and cope with change has been liberating.


Knowing myself has helped me realize what I want out of life, for now anyways.

I know I want to be there for my daughter. I want to drop her off and pick her up from school. I want to take her to her activities. I want to help her with her homework.

I want to enjoy a night out or happy hour with my friends.

I want to live in Texas.

I want to work part time now while my daughter is young and pursue my career more once she’s older.

I want to meet a man I can enjoy life with (and I’m ok with waiting for that to happen).

I want to believe in God.

Without those insecurity voices in my head, I’ve been able to create the life I want to live. I know I would not have been strong enough five years ago to make the same decisions I’ve been able to make today. Going from that scared, insecure 22 year old that just moved back with her parents to where I am now, living the exact life I want to is a little surreal to think about.

I’m not shocked you are an atheist now. It was a long process, I sort of watched you undergo and I actually feel indifferent to it now. I don’t have a ha! satisfaction feeling. I don’t feel sad, mad or embarrassed. I’m just so happy you are able to be you! And if your leaving the Christian faith has something to do with it, then I’m glad. Mostly for selfish reasons, because it has enabled me to be me!

I still call myself a Christian. I will admit I do feel Christianity is a socially acceptable status to claim. Many will identify as Christian without doing much or any of the Christian practices. And to be honest, I like that. I want to believe in God, so I do. But I don’t want to go to church every Sunday or follow all the rules, so I don’t. Five years ago I would probably have felt scared to admit that; afraid of people’s judgments and even more afraid of my own inner judgments. But today I have no problem saying… I believe in God, but on Sunday I want to sleep in and not go to church. And if someone wants to have an opinion on that, cool! You do you because imma do me![1]

Lastly I don’t blame you for getting it wrong when I was a kid. Just like it’s not my fault it’s yours; it’s not your fault it’s your parents.’ And it’s not their fault, it’s their parents.’ I’m just so happy you broke the cycle, I’m glad you chose the red pill and not the blue pill. I’m happy I get to be present for myself. I’m happy I get to be present for my own daughter. I’m happy I get to watch her grow into her own self.

Love you mom,

Emma Galvan

October 21, 2017


[1] This expression means  “To be independent or do what you want to do. Not letting other people influence your decisions.”


About the Author Karen Garst