I hate the necklace, Momma. I hate it. I don't care that it used to be yours. I don't care that you thought I'd like it. I don't care that you gave it to me because you noticed my old one broke. I DON'T CARE! I don't want it because I hate it!

I hate it because of the motive behind your action. It wasn't for any of those reasons that you offered. You gave it to me as a way to 'win back' my affection. Don't you realize it's way too late for that? I'm almost eighteen years old! Do you think I am still that naïve that I will believe everything you say, keep my mouth shut and forgive you just because you've enticed me with "goodies"? Well I'm not and I don't.

I didn't want the necklace, Momma. I didn't need it. What I wanted was an apology. What I needed was recognition, acknowledgement. I needed for you to say, "Brandy, I'm sorry. I was wrong. I shouldn't have slapped you. Will you forgive me?" Why is that such a hard thing for you to say? The least you could do is admit that it happened! Even if you didn't apologize or anything, you could just say, "About what happened earlier, I didn't mean to do that, but please don't talk to me that way." I mean what is so difficult about that?

Momma? I already know you're human. I already know that you're not perfect and make mistakes, so why can't you at least be reasonable and responsible about it? That's what you ask me to do for my actions, isn't it? So why don't you, Momma? How am I supposed to do these things you want me to do if you don't show me what that means by example?

I don't know what to do anymore, Momma. That thing really wasn't that big of a deal; I don't know why I got so upset. I guess it just reminded me of all the other times in my life that you've done something similar, disappointed me, and I just got so angry. At you, and at me.

Did you know that when I crawled out my window afterward, I didn't just "go for a walk"? That in fact, I wasn't planning on coming back? I told myself that it was the last straw, because I'd sworn the last time that I wouldn't let you hit me again. So when you did, I got out. I ran off into the woods, trying to revel in the freedom of my escape.

But I wasn't free, and the cold winter air was not refreshing, it burned my lungs. I finally had to stop and lean back against a tree because I couldn't breathe. I was crying, Momma. Do you know that? I hated it, but I couldn't stop. I was so angry at myself, for letting you get to me again. Because I knew I should've been way over this by then, what with all the times you've hurt me before and never even acknowledged it. But I wasn't. It hurt, Momma. It still hurts.

I only came back because Mrs. Burgan asked me to. You should've heard her, Momma; she sounded so worried and sincere. Why don't you seem to like her, Momma? She's never done anything to you. I know you don't really approve of how her girls act in church and stuff, but who are you to judge how she raises her kids? Who are you to claim that you have done better? She's a really nice person, Momma, why can't you see that?

And it's not that she's better than you, Momma. You're the one that I want, that I need. But you don't listen to me, Momma, and she does. She always has. She has always treated me as if my opinions mattered, as if I was important, and as if I was mature enough to make my own decisions, even when I wasn't yet 14. And she never blamed me for things that weren't my fault, or hurt me when I made a mistake. At least, not on purpose. I mean, she would be disappointed in me, and that would hurt, but then she'd just talk to me about it and help me fix it or something like that. But regardless of what she does or doesn't do, she can never replace you, Momma. She's never tried, no matter what you think.

And please don't be angry at her, Momma. None of this is her fault at all. It's not her fault that I told her about things (and she's not angry at you either, Momma, she's just trying to help me), nor is it her fault that she's going to be the one to tell you about me. It's my fault. I made the choice. I told her. And I'm the one who's making her tell you. I just…

I can't do it, Momma. I can't tell you. I'm not brave enough, Momma. I'm so terrified of your reaction. ANY reaction, bad or good. I don't know which I fear worse: you truly hating me and getting angry at me for all the trouble I've caused, all the secrets I've told, all the things I've ruined, all the damage I've done; or you crying and getting upset because of all the things I haven't told you, all the pain you never saw, all the scars you can't erase, all the love you realize you've never shown.

And I know you love me, Momma. You always have. I love you too. But what is love if it makes you feel like shit all the time? What kind of love is that? I want a different type of love. I want a relationship with you. But I don't have one. I never have. And I'm worried I never will.

You know that magnet we've had on the fridge for as long as I can remember? The one that's shaped like a heart and says, "To love is a decision"? I've never liked that magnet at all, ever. It scares me. It always makes me afraid that, if you have to decide to love someone, than you can decide to hate them too.

You're not happy, Momma. I can see that. None of us are happy. We can put on our happy faces, push all our problems under the rug so they "don't exist" and pretend like we're a lovely little happy family, but we aren't. So why aren't we doing something to change it? I don't want to live like this anymore. Do you understand that? Can you honestly say that you do, Momma?

I know you're hurting, Momma; we all are. But it's okay to say that we need help – no one expects us to be perfect except ourselves. And it's going to take time, Momma, to get better. It'll get worse first, and it'll be really painful at times. I know that. But can you imagine what it'll be like once we get there!? Once things are really better? Don't you want that, Momma? Don't you want to be happy?

I have so much I want to tell you, Momma. I want to tell you everything. But I'm afraid it's too late. I'm afraid we've gone too far, that we've fallen too deep. Do you hate me, Momma? Is that why you do the things you do, hurt me all the time? Or do you even realize that you have?

I'm sorry for all the awful things I've ever done, Momma. I've never meant to hurt you. But I know telling you what I've been doing to myself for the last four years will hurt you. And there's nothing I can do about it, except perhaps, accepting that it happened, and that I will overcome, that I will get better. But I don't want to do it on my own, Momma. I don't think I can. My changing will affect the rest of us, and that's what scares me. I've never been one to rock the boat. But maybe the boat needs to be rocked this time, Momma. Maybe it needs to be completely tipped over and emptied out. That way we could fill it back up with better things. That way we could turn around and start heading downstream rather than upstream. Will you be angry at me, Momma? For what I've done and said? For being what I am? Will you be angry at me, Momma? For changing and needing different things? For becoming who I should be?

I hate the necklace, Momma. It burns deep into my skin. But I wear it, Momma. I wear it because of you.