Whispers of the Heart

Kat Cassell, Writer

A whisper of the heart, to me, is something that only happens once in a blue moon, one of those moments when your body knows something your mind does not. I’ve only ever had them a few times, and it changed my life each time. The feeling is so deep that even though you have no clue what it says, you listen. It’s gotten me out of bad relationships, to the happiest moments of my life, and through the worst ones, and there is one thing my heart whispers about the most: my mother.

The first time it whispered of her was when I was 12. It was a late night in August, and I was already failing all my 7th-grade classes, most notably math. My mother and I were sitting together on her bed. A white, fluffy blanket that smelled of dog was strewn over the bed. She lay under the covers scrolling through her phone, and I sat on top doing my homework because I wasn’t allowed to leave until it was done. I finished the equation, and I passed her the paper for her to check. I’m sure my face was lit up when I handed it over. It was the first time I had ever finished a Pythagorean problem without help. She scanned over the paper with a look of annoyance. How dare I interrupt her? I watched her eyes move down the work I’d done, and then suddenly, something sent her over the edge.

She screamed, “It’s wrong again! If you’re so dumb that you can’t solve this, you should just kill yourself!” I scrunched my face. I should have been crying, but I wasn’t. Something sent me over the edge too.

“You can’t talk to me this way anymore! What would happen if I really did kill myself?!”

“Don’t tell me how to talk to you. I’m your mom. I can say what I want.”

I stood up and approached the door. Secretly I was trying to retreat. I always do, but she wasn’t supposed to know that.

“You don’t know how badly that hurts me, mom! I am suicidal because of you!”

I had never told her that before, but it was true. I had been contemplating it for a long time.

“You wouldn’t really do it.”

“I will.”

And then I stormed off. I had made a habit of taking the bleach and pouring it into a cup. Every day I would come home, take a solo cup (because no one cleaned the dishes), take the bleach from the laundry part of the hall, go to my room, and fill that cup. Every day I would try to convince myself to go through with it. Eventually, the cup would react with the bleach and start burning my hands, and they would release after a certain amount of pain.

I stood in the hall outside of my room. This side of the trailer was probably the worst in the place. It was covered in various stains from all the random things I did as a kid without anyone cleaning up after me. I remember most firmly a brown handprint. It was from a night not unlike this one. Blood dries brown. For some reason, the bleach wasn’t where it usually was. I can’t explain why or what was happening in my head. I closed and opened every door on the cabinet over and over again, thinking it would appear, but it didn’t. My body moved without my mind. I was breathing heavily. I’m not sure when I started crying. I wanted to go through with it. I was so tired and so angry. I wanted her to regret it. I never wanted to regret anything ever again. Eventually, my mom came storming out of her room and walked all the way across the house to me.


“What are you doing?”

She had something in her hand, but I can’t remember what it was.

“Where is the bleach?” I cried out.

At first, she didn’t answer. I became more desperate.

“WHERE IS THE BLEACH!?” I screamed.

I kept opening and closing the doors. Finally, she whacked me over the head with whatever was in her hand.

“You’re not worth my bleach,” she said calmly.

I was completely shattered. I stepped back. I honestly couldn’t even feel that she had hit me at all.

“no,” my voice wavered a lot.

“You’re not worth my bleach!”


This time she yelled. I backed up more.


“You’re not worth my bleach.”



“You’re not worth my bleach.”




Somewhere along the way, I had hit the corner and fallen to the ground. I cupped my head as if it were a tornado drill. She kept hitting me.

She hit me over and over and over, and all I could say was no. I wasn’t even looking at her anymore. Instead, I saw the dirty brown floor and my gross feet on them. I noticed that handprint on the wall and some trails of fingers before it.

Finally, I looked up. Her green eyes were so evil, and now they met mine. I saw it go through her head. She realized what she’d done, but she was so angry. She looked at me with such disgust, and then she dropped whatever it was that she had, and she walked away.


The bleach had actually been in my room the whole time. I must have left it.


My heart told me that night that I had to get out of there.


A little more than a year later, I was living with my Dad, and my mom and I happened to get into a humongous fight. As you might imagine, our relationship was a bit strained. We were driving to her house from my grandma’s, which is a ways away from where I live. It had started small. She took a selfie with me and sent it to some of the guys she was talking to, feeling cute. I told her it made me uncomfortable that my picture was being sent to some guys I didn’t know. She pulled the usual, don’t be dramatic, you’re making a scene, but it wasn’t sitting right with me; I made the mistake of trying to reason with her. Somewhere along the way, it devolved. I asked her to take me home, even though it was her weekend. My mother doesn’t have visitation rights, so she had to, but she refused. My Dad was up in South Carolina doing pest control for his ex-girlfriend. My mom opted to call her a whore. I got defensive. I always loved April for the maternity she showed me. Mom hated that. I told her she was no better. I shouldn’t have done that. It just kept getting worse and worse. When my mom is angry, she does whatever hurts the most, and I am very sensitive. As always, she screams, and I cry. She won’t take me home. I felt so powerless. I texted my Dad.

I didn’t expect it, but he told me he would drive all the way down from South Carolina to come and get me. As soon as my mother found out, she drove me home, just despite him, I suppose. We beat him home by a long shot. When we pulled into the parking lot, I told my mother I never wanted to see her again. We both got out of the car. She walked at me too quickly, and I flinched, but instead of hitting me, she hugged me. She was crying. Was she sad? Did I hurt her feelings? I left. I kept as cold as I could, and I walked into my lonely apartment. I even locked the door, but after that, I didn’t know what to do. I just sort of stood there and faced the windows. I couldn’t see out of them. The blinds were closed. Would that really be the last time I saw my mom? I hate her so much, but I started crying again anyway. I watched her headlights leave through the blinds, and I ran to the other side of the house as fast as I could to catch them. I didn’t know why, but I felt hopeful, and then I watched those lights disappear. Everything left my body. I had hoped she wouldn’t go. My lips cried “mom” weakly.

The craziest thing happened to me then. I had every reason never to see her again, but my heart let me know that I needed a mom. Dumb right? Screw that establishment. I have a great father. I don’t need that abuse. It didn’t matter how much logic I threw at it. I needed a mom. I needed my mom.

After a month, I gave up and unblocked her, but it wasn’t but another year until it all happened again. I trusted my mom with some special knowledge to me. She had an eating disorder too, when she was in high school, so I thought she understood how crucial it was to me. Nonetheless, she told the rest of our family. I told her that made me uncomfortable, and the rest is history. I left her again.


I remember telling my future boyfriend about it, and he said, “yeah, but you don’t mean it do you? How many times have you left her and then come back?”

I had never thought about it. It had been three times. I told my Dad, and he didn’t even have to ask. Instead, he looked at me with all the love in the world and said, “Does your mom make your life harder?”

I nodded and sniffled. “But I don’t want to lose her. I need a mom.”

“Maybe you do, but ask yourself this: how would things be without her?”

I didn’t know what to say. My heart didn’t know either. He saw it on my face.

“Then why don’t you give it a try.”

And so I did. I promised my Dad that I would wait a year until I spoke to her again, and that day was a week short of a year ago.


I can’t tell you what a long year it was. Life didn’t settle. Ups and downs. I lost a lot of weight. I was dizzy all the time. I started having flashbacks of things I had forgotten entirely. Things that had been crucial to who I was. Fights we used to have every day. All the times I ran away in elementary school. The times my mom would force me to shower with her so that she could pick apart my body. The times she made her husband hit me for her. There’s this dumb thing my brain does when I’m with her where it makes me do whatever to please her. I pick myself apart because I know she thinks those things about me, and I begin to wonder if I have ever been abused at all. A year apart from her taught me that I absolutely was. It taught me just how harmful it had been to forget for her. It taught me the ways I had become abusive because of it. It taught me that I hate being touched when I’m sad. It taught me that when I get stressed, I start thinking as I did back then.

Through it all though, I never stopped missing her. After every session of blues came the yearning for all the good times. My mother has a beautiful sense of humor. She loves Mexican food. She loves her dog. She loves watching me play games. She loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She loves hiking and kayaking, and sometimes she even loves me.

It’s so difficult to accept that she can be so cruel to me for so long and then turn around and do the sweetest thing. It’s so difficult to accept that she doesn’t understand what she did and that it’s still wrong. It’s hard to accept that my mother loved me and abused me my entire life. How could any human do that? How can my mother even be human? The hardest thing of all was that I love my mother too. I miss her a lot.

I guess I’ve come to terms with it now, though. My mother is a terrible person, and it’s my responsibility to either live with that or never see her again. That’s fine. Maybe it’s that cycle of abuse, maybe I’m crazy, or maybe I’m stubborn, but today my heart whispers to me that I should see her again. I love my mother, and I hate what she did, and I am ready to go back and show her what I’ve learned. I’m ready to fight with her again and to laugh. I know now that there’s nothing she can say that will ever take back what I went through. No matter what my heart whispers, I know this: I am strong, and I am ready to accomplish the greatest manner of acceptance: forgiveness.


I love you Mom.