Saturday, March 19, 2011

My mother-shaped black hole

Hey, mom. Remember me? I'm your daughter. I was the last person you remembered when you were dying and the cancer had spread to your brain.

Well, last night, I came to a horrifying realization: I remember very little about you.

The things I remember sound almost like a coded message to myself, learned by heart, lest I forget all. When my husband, who barely had the time to meet you, asked me, after you died, what you were like, I could only repeat, like a parrot, like a broken record:

"She had no vanity at all. And she had a great sense of humor. And laughed a lot. Always at her own expense".

I guess what I made myself remember in code is, deciphered, that you were not a narcissist. Not by a long shot.

I remember you were kind to me and I was never afraid of you. You were impossible to offend. Which made my narcissistic father's very strongly implied demand that I disregard you and ignore you easier.

I remember you were strong and optimistic. I remember how, right after your breast was surgically removed, you kept making all the other women in that hospital room laugh. How you always cheered everyone up.

I remember how, right before you were diagnosed with cancer, and it still seemed there was all the time left in the world for the two of us, so I know it wasn't "forced", you said to me "You're growing up to be a really decent person". It's still the most wonderful thing anyone's ever told me.

But that's about it.

Your friends still miss you a lot and talk and reminisce about you, remembering your jokes, your warmth, your spirit. I don't. I don't even know how to miss you. I'm not sure I ever had you. Not like they did. They were free to enjoy you, I wasn't.

Your friend told me how, when father went away on business for a year (he was very worried how I'd ever survive without him), the relationship between us two was finally allowed to blossom. How we had fun together. How I told you "We're so happy now".

But I don't remember that. None of it. That year is a black hole in my memory. Could I have blocked it and buried it deep down because I felt so guilty about betraying My Father? Is that why I've blocked all my memories of you, of any real relationship we may have had? Why can't I unblock them now? Does he still have me under some form of hypnosis?

Everything I remember about you has something to do with Him. I remember how the two of us would talk like regular people, and we'd discuss something avidly, and raise our voices, and then laugh about it, and then He would come, and dramatically beg us to "stop fighting" because "he's sensitive" and can't stand to hear us "shouting" and "arguing" like that. It was beyond ridiculous. And you KNEW he was just trying to prevent us from talking to each other, because he was jealous of us. Your friend told me you told her about it. We remembered the same thing, and interpreted it in the same way.

And here's the thing: you knew, you must have known, you told your friend and your sister about some of the things he did to keep you from me, and yet you never diagnosed him. You just went along.

AND YOU WERE A PSYCHOLOGIST.

How come it took your psychologist friend just a few minutes with me and a few extra instances of his behavior that I told her about, and that you'd also witnessed, to congratulate me (the saddest "Congratulations" ever) on my diagnosis for him? How come you never suspected it? Or did you?

Were you just very, very naive? After all, it took you 10 years of dating and then a few years of marriage just to realize there was something profoundly wrong with his mother, your MIL, and THAT doesn't even take knowledge of psychology. It just takes basic humanity. How did they fool you?

You said to your friend that I "saved" you when I was born because your husband focused on the baby now instead of on his mother. He stopped focusing on you too, and your marriage suffered as a result, but you still preferred all that to the daily pilgrimages and worship of the Goddess, His Queen Mother, that you had to make before my birth. Was it worth it?

Did you... did you SACRIFICE me for an illusion of a "cohesive" nuclear family? For severing my father's umbilical cord tying him to his mother? Did you just let go of me?

Well, I blocked you out. You allowed yourself to be killed. I killed you. I killed you three times. I didn't nurse well, so you got breast cancer - the connection is symbolic, not necessarily medical, I know, but it resonates so strongly I won't resist it. Then I told all the kids in school that you were dead and I only had My Father. Then, when you really died, I didn't grieve, I didn't really cry, I didn't miss you. And I forgot, I blocked, I repressed almost everything I remember about you.

I'm actually hoping there's too much pain behind that blocked stuff. I'm hoping it's not just a black hole of a hopelessly hollow, cold, and unloving soul that is me.

So there you go. That's what remains behind you. And you were a wonderful person, everyone who met you thinks that. Everyone felt energized and at ease around you. You should have been the most wonderful mother in the world. You probably were. But, as it happens, I don't remember any of it. You were my mother, but I never had you as a mother.

The only thing I can do is talk to you. I actually feel closer to you now that you're dead. No one can stop me from talking to you. And I like to believe you're listening.

4 comments:

  1. Heartbreaking post:( So sad. Both of your parents behaved like you were an IT, not a feeling, breathing human being. I get what it's like to have parents that are physically there with you, but never seem real...like they're a mirage or a vapor.

    I lived in a kind of fog, because my parents were living a lie. My needs were not met and it sounds like your's weren't either.

    I've been No Contact with both of my parents since Sep. 2009 (second round!). My NF (narcisisstic father) was always very jealous of my close relationship with my EM (enabling mom).

    Knowing my NF, he doesn't miss me at all and is enjoying my EM's pain at being cut off. He's probably gloating and telling her: "NOW, you know how I felt all those years with our daughter preferring you."


    Knowing my EM, she's still helping him be self-centered, mean and pouty. She's probably pretending away his happiness at her anguish over my No Contact with them. I see her as an N now, too, because she's gotten *something* out of sacrificing her whole self to serve my sick NF for the past 55 years!!

    All in all, narcissists never learn, because they refuse to examine themselves for flaws and they're all about immediate gratification. If it takes real effort, count them out.

    Maybe your mom, being a psychologist, overestimated her ability to deal with her MIL. Also, many narcissistic women are nice to you before you marry their son or daughter, then the fangs come out. Have kids, and POW, your NMIL *really* gets scary...practically takes your child away to use as N supply. Sounds alarmingly like what your father did!

    Maybe your mom, being a new mom, had no idea how messed up her life could get adding a baby to the mix. She probably assumed that having a baby would strengthen the bond she had with your dad and then you three would be a happy little family. Normally, that's what happens.

    She probably never imagined, WHO WOULD, that your father would coldly shove her aside, take over every aspect of your physical and emotional care and basically use you, her precious baby, as narcissistic supply.

    What your father did, using you like a thing, makes my skin crawl. My "parents" were so messed up, I took over as parent in many respects. I resigned Sep. 2009. Sweet Freedom:D

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  2. Well done! I'm still trying to understand how one "takes over" as parent.

    Thank you for your very insightful and warm comment. You're right about this:

    "She probably assumed that having a baby would strengthen the bond she had with your dad and then you three would be a happy little family. Normally, that's what happens."

    Yes, I'm sure that was it. I think this is why she let him take over with me - she probably thought this was making us into a real family, finally.

    And she probably also overestimated her ability to deal with my father too. She wasn't an enabler, really, more like a "disabler", trying with gentle humor to get him to see, sometimes, that he was acting unlike normal people do. I'm not sure that was the best option, but then, I don't quite know what the best option would have been, both for her and for me.

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  3. I'm so sorry to read about your mom's cancer and your upbringing. I'm glad you have that memory of her telling you you were growing up to be a decent person.

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  4. Thank you, PWC. That's sweet. :)

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