Oh man, the parental units are coming over tomorrow. My husband and I are cleaning up the house, as the meme suggests. I am finding teething rings EVERYWHERE!
So yeah, in my anger yesterday/ day before I revealed some childhood things in my post Humanizing Teachers.
My parents are interesting creatures. My childhood was rough, as I stated. I mean, my mother really beat us, my brother had this livid purple black eye once, and it wasn’t from me or a “door.” My father threatened he would harm my mother if she ever did anything like that again (apparently) but that’s the thing. My mother is a great many things but above all, she is very intelligent. 1400s on her SATs and Salutatorian of her high school class (she was supposed to be the valedictorian but, it “didn’t look good if a girl beat out a boy. If it had been two girls, it wouldn’t have mattered.”). Crazy smart, emphasis on the crazy. So she figured out how to hit us where it didn’t show.
I know I shouldn’t say that she is crazy even though she was institutionalized. (when I was…. I’m not sure but I played with dolls still, but I was old enough to remember.) People who are put in those places are trying to get help I know. It’s just, you weren’t there. The thing she became when it got ahold of her…. It was crazy. It just was.
I remember visiting her in that place and asking “Mommy, why don’t your shoes have laces?”
I wish they had kept her longer but, she’s too smart. She convinced them she was okay sooner than they should have let her go. Just to good at hiding it.
I did my best to clean (she hoards), but I hated it, and I tired to escape my situation through books. However I was too much of a bitch to let things go. I’d always been this way.
God, I remember in elementary school being across the table from my mother in our home. I said something defiant and horrible I am sure. I saw the look on her face, this twist of absolute deep hatred and evil and she started towards me. My older brother gave me this split second look- I knew what he was about to do- why?! But it was too late to stop him.
He said something worse to her and the monster twisted and turned on him, slamming her fists into his skull. Her screaming incoherent and shrill. All I could do was stare in fear, feet rooted to the floor in shock at what I had done.
I will never forget. I cannot. I still have paralyzing nightmares where she screams and screams and it gets louder and louder but I can’t move in my bed, I can’t open my eyes and it gets so bad and deafening- I black out. I think that’s PTSD.
And as I have said, it’s hard to hate the parent that didn’t hit you, that told you stories while he sported dark rings under his eyes from working many jobs. However, he shouldn’t have retreated into video games so much, he should have done something. He should have looked a little harder.
I was the one that finally ended up doing something. I was 15 and I said something, again, that I shouldn’t have (I was alone that night with my mother) and she grabbed me by my shoulders and threw me into the kitchen shelves cluttered with pots and pans. I remember them clattering and some falling to the floor. Then the most particular thing, I realized I was taller than her and over all bigger. She is only 5’4″ and I was 5’8″ at the time. When did that happen?
I looked down into her eyes and I told her dead calm that if she ever hit any of us again I would call the police and child services. I told her she could try to stop me, but she had to go to work sometime, and I could always find someone who would listen. No one would believe I “tripped playing outside” I was 15 after all! So she resorted from then on to screaming a lot and threats. She didn’t want people to know, she always worked hard to seem normal.
Ugh anyway, for years I have been told by children who had normal upbringings to forgive. I understand my mother is imbalanced, I do.
But every time she swoops in for a hug or puts a hand on my shoulder, my skin crawls. They say muscle has memory and it takes a lot of will power not to flinch.
I get tut tutted by friends for not returning the gesture with warmth. Also they are tired of hearing the same old reasons why I don’t. I should forgive her, she can’t help it she’s mentally unstable. Part of me screams in outrage, “how dare you tell me what to do? How dare you tell me I am being a bad person? She can’t help it?! She should be able too! You understand why I am upset? Please tell me how you can relate!” Then the other side of me holds that snarling, spitting part of my soul, like a small child, and says “darling it’s okay,” and shushes and rocks that piece into silence. That angry part is much smaller than it used to be.
For years I tried really hard to forgive, and I wrestled with myself “why couldn’t I forgive and forget? Why can’t I be normal?” I found myself lacking. I wasn’t good enough, pure enough, Christian enough.
I wrote a letter to Dear Prudence, of Slate, concerning my mother and she said something to me very profound. She asked me, did my mother ever ask for forgiveness? Did she ever apologize for her actions? Did she acknowledge it at all?
My mother has always said she didn’t remember hurting us. She never apologized. She never will. She avoids the topic completely, hiding it behind her smile. She changes the subject.
I don’t actually have to forgive her. It’s not necessary to forgive, nor to forget. It is necessary remember and keep going. To not allow the memories to change me into something dark, or something that torments or controls me. Keeps me from living my life or growing as a person.
My mother has been in therapy for most of her adult life. It’s helped her. I can be around her, for short periods of time now. Though I still dislike her touching me. I believe her forcing me to hug her is a way to assuage her guilt. After all my husband and friends get upset if I don’t return in kind. I get scolded as if I am a child. I think she knows this too. Or maybe I’m bit giving her enough credit and she’s trying to apologize, in her own way. I don’t know. I really can’t say.
Which brings me to her visiting tomorrow.
In knowing all of this, around December 2013 I started to freak out. I was having a baby and everyone expected me to let her hold him. A sort of primal fear came out at the thought.
With a lot of talking it out and sharing my fears, with friends, I called her. I told her I had a bad childhood and I did not feel comfortable with her around my son. It didn’t matter if she remembered or not, I did. I told her my son wound never spend the night at her house, never be alone with her and I was not sure if I could even let her hold him. Then I explained if she wanted to see him she had to come with dad. She couldn’t come alone and she couldn’t just show up. I would not open the door for her. She was never to be alone with him ever. Never shall he go to her house (besides the outright unsafe piles of tiny things he could swallow, the dust and cat debris are just unhealthy). She agreed.
Once I revealed my plans to friends, the ones who had been similarly abused thought it was the dumbest idea. She could harm him so easily. Some said I was a bad parent.
Voicing my fears to my husband and revealing even more things if my childhood, helped him understand my fears. He finally felt a bit wary too. He did though, have very important relationships with his grandparents. He wanted that for his son too. I could understand that. So I agreed to try.
Then the time came for her to meet CDubs and it went pretty okay. I let her hold him for around 15 minutes. She’s always treated little cute things very well, and I hoped with that thought, and my husband being right there, and me there too ready to snatch my son at a moments notice; would be enough.
I shall never forgive her but I will do my best to remember that, that is the past. I am my son’s advocate and I can say no and protect him. That is being a good parent.
I’ll be damned if he remotely even sees or feels anything like my childhood.
So they are coming to visit tomorrow and what I said above and more goes through my mind anytime I think of her. I remember I can ask her to leave, I can call the cops, this is my house. I remember she does not act violent anymore and that her medications are wonderfully effective.
I also remember my husband and friends, the ones who have lived with proper parents, can’t understand how I feel. So I can’t get mad at them when they tell me they are “proud” of me for having my mother over.
Tomorrow will be a good day (self affirmation).
(I do love all my friends some just simply cannot understand my childhood and I realize that. I thank God for that. I want them to never ever experience abuse of any kind. I also can understand in my limited way, where they are coming from. I just understand I don’t have to feel guilty when I do not act the way they would. I do appreciate them all, and one in particular was the only reason as a young teen, I never ended my life. Which I am forever grateful, Julie. For an hour once or twice a month was what kept me going many times indeed. So thank you.)