Gary, I feel for you–I truly do and I can definitely empathize. My parents were not perfect–far from it–and for years I was angry with them. I blamed them for everything that had gone wrong in my life, and there were a LOT of things. When I was 17 and I went away to university (deliberately choosing one that was 4 hours away from my parents), I began experimenting with drugs, alcohol and sex. I was, in a word, a promiscuous pot-head and speed freak. My grades were predictably horrible and my bank account was continually overdrawn (my first ATM card, you see–I never wrote anything down). When I flunked out of college and had to go home and get a job, I was disappointed in myself, but honestly, I didn’t like college and was relieved when I couldn’t go back.
When someone representing himself to be a friend of a friend sexually assaulted me that year, my self-esteem took a nose-dive. I started dating a guy who was 7 years older and who forgot to mention that he was married to someone else at the time. He ended up getting a divorce and we got married. In the meantime, he became an abusive monster who convinced me that my family did not love me. I believed it and so I stayed in the relationship long after the present me would have gone running in the other direction. But that’s another story altogether.
The point is, that I blamed my parents for low self-esteem. I blamed the strict Southern Baptist environment that I grew up in and I blamed my family for not giving me the love (i.e., physical hugs and warmness that you’re supposed to get from your parents) that I so desperately needed and wanted.
The farther south you go in the USA, the less accepting people are of mental issues. The pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality seems to be prevalent–or at least it was back in the 60s and 70s. Only *really* crazy people went to see shrinks; all you really needed to do was pray to God to make you better, and if He didn’t, well, that was your own fault for not having enough faith. The one decision I have taken completely on my own that has turned out to be the best decision was to leave the South and move to Boston. I assume that you moved to WA for similar reasons.
When my parents finally got to the point where they accepted that I had emotional and mental problems that I could not resolve without help, I considered that as their apology to me (even though I never told them this). It was the closest thing I was ever going to get, because they didn’t feel that they did anything wrong in raising me. And honestly, they did the best job they could considering the era and the place where we lived.
I think my dad inherently understood me because of his own ADD–this apple did not fall far from the tree. I’m like an alien to my mom, but she tries.
When I asked her the other day what she remembered about me as a child, she could only say that I was a “strong willed child”. But she wasn’t the one who left work to go to my school and meet with the principal and my teachers–that was my dad’s job. So if I had given her a questionnaire like the one you gave your mom, the outcome probably would have been the same. Memories fade with time, and we are the only ones who experienced our own personal difficulties and shortcomings. She probably doesn’t even remember much about her own childhood.
Try to forget about it–an apology won’t change anything that has already happened. I know that’s easier said than done, but do it for your own peace of mind and so that you can focus on what’s really important–YOU and the here and now.
Good luck and best wishes!