Since I can never seem to nap properly, even when it would really behoove me to do so, I worked from home today. I also read this article this morning: The Debt. It's about forgiveness, absolution, resolution, horrible parents, abuse, and coming to terms with it all in as healthy a way as you can.
So, people who know me well, know that my mother was an abusive one. Actually, she continues to be so. In fact, before I read that article this morning, I got yet another set of attack emails from her, first talking about my worthless degrees, and then, upon my rebuttal, another email making herself out to be some kind of hero who fought for my right to actually pursue those degrees. When the truth is, she wasn't, and she didn't. She told me I would fail and I'd have to come home. Of course, the threat of that was enough to ensure that I did not fail, so I guess she could technically take some credit.
It's not enough that I had to grow up with her, her mood swings, her violence, her constant barrage of negativity, her ability to always play the victim card. Even when she was the adult and I was a baby, somehow, her loss of control was my fault. Her inability to ever apologize for anything, the way she tore me down on the daily, and then prayed to God and sang in the choir and played the perfect church wife in public, were just the icing on the cake. It wasn't bad enough that I had zits, no fashion sense, and was almost a whole year younger than everyone in my grade so I was less coordinated physically. It wasn't bad enough that I was painfully unsure of myself in every way but academically. No, none of that was enough, so every day she reminded me of how awful I was. Every day I ran a gauntlet of her telling me how ugly I looked, how many zits I had, how my sisters got all the phone calls, how I would likely never have a boyfriend, how stupid, how untalented, what a waste of space. There were days when she held me down and forced makeup on me to try to "make you pretty for once", all these things. It was a nightmare.
It didn't end at school, it was exacerbated by my incredible awkwardness. The first time someone called me a "ho" (in seventh grade) I had no earthly idea what they were talking about. The words came at me, "You a ho, huh?" I had to ask them what the word meant, "I'm a what?" "A, H-O, Ho!" and finally, I got the explanation, "You stupid, huh? A ho is some bitch who sells IT to anyone who wants it." My response was, "Oh, you mean a WHORE. It's spelled "W-H-O-R-E, with an "r" in it. No, I'm not one." This person got really mad when I said that and called me a whole string of other things before walking away. I didn't have the sense to know I was technically being a smart ass. I honestly had had no idea what they'd meant and was trying to be helpful. All of my previous exposure to such ideas was literary, not actual life experience. Half of me was dumbfounded that anyone would say such a thing to me: no boy anywhere would've been caught dead even talking to me, unless it was for a school project they wanted to ace, or to do something shitty to me to make his friends laugh. Half of me was hopeful though, maybe if this person, such as they were, thought I was pretty enough that someone would pay me for the use of my body, maybe I would eventually not be such an ugly screw up like my mother said I was.
I had no shelter. School was wretched, and when I came home, it was orders and insults, and being beaten or hit or having things thrown at me, my hair pulled, being punched, kicked, slapped, all the insults, you name it. If I tried to escape into a book or a journal, or anywhere, I would be found, and hurt. There was nowhere to hide.
Leaving to attend college was my only escape route. I knew this early. I studied hard. I studied long hours. I read everything I could get my hands on, and I tuned out as much as possible to stay focused. This was before the internet. If I'd had that, who knows how this story might have turned out.
When I was graduating from high school, I was a National Merit Scholar, I was top student in most of my classes, I'd competed in band and UIL Academic competitions and had done well, I was a class officer, and member of lots of clubs, I'd won scholarships from Oxford (and was accepted as a student there) and a few other places. I should've been over the moon. However, there was one achievement they saved for the last minute, finalized class ranking. Well, I missed being Valedictorian by maybe .02 grade points, and I lost to another National Merit Scholar (in a class of 98 students). I was still happy. I came home to tell my family and I was excited. However, the first words out of my mother's mouth were, "Why weren't you Valedictorian?" The wind died out of my sails and I ran up the stairs to my room sobbing. I'd worked so hard, and that was all she could say?
The truth is, looking back, all I wanted was my parents' approval and to escape. Top 10% is all I needed to escape (at the time all top 10% students in any graduating class were auto-accepted into any state university or college - Oxford and Ivy League were all well out of our budget) and I nailed that, so I was happy... I shouldn't've let her poison my accomplishment.
I eventually got out... and found, to my great dismay that even though my mother had tormented me all that time, left me with bruises and cuts, left me emotionally damaged, all I wanted to do once I was out on my own, was to call her and be reassured by her. I wanted more than anything to please her. That was a running theme in my life. Wanting to please my mother, someone who could never be pleased. So, when I finally got out... of course, I went back from time to time. It never went well. On one particularly memorable occasion, she actually physically attacked me in front of the entire family, and my sister's fiance.
Now that my parents are divorced... and what a shit show that was... my mother's daughters, the three of us, have been talking about what will happen when my mother gets older and less healthy. We all dread being called upon to take care of her. Not one of us wants that hot potato.
We each have our own children now, children we don't want to be exposed to her. I dread hearing my mother's voice come out of my own mouth... and more, I dread hearing her actual voice directed at my beautiful, talented, and precious son. Because every day, I try to give my son the upbringing I wish I'd had. Some days are closer to ideal than others, just like in any normal home.
I used to feel incredibly guilty over the state of our relationship, but I almost don't anymore. After all, it takes two to make a relationship work, and she is not going to be able to live up to her end of a healthy relationship. I accept that she will never apologize, she will always rationalize the little of her horrible behavior she actually lets herself remember (my sisters and I remember even if she won't), and she will never change. Whenever I talk with her, or have any real interaction with her, it spins me into a depression, and stresses me out so much I can't truly be here for the people I love and who love me. So, I've come to the conclusion that it's too hard for me to have my mother as part of my life: the best I can do for now, is separate myself and my family from her, to protect us all.