Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Revisiting Mother. Again.

When I first started this blog, I had a black-and-white world in my mind. I was horrified at what I'd discovered about my father, and idealized my poor dead mother - although I could feel and remember very little about her.

Then I started remembering some things slowly. Now I feel the need to reassess some of the things I'd written before.

I remembered that, contrary to what I said in The Torture Chamber for Babies, my mother never took that incriminating comic - in which babies were being brutally beaten and whipped to teach them not to cry - to her colleagues. My poor brain imagined that one.

This is what happened: I drew it while I was at her work. I remember that distinctly now. I suppose I felt safe enough, at a public place full of psychologists, to create a cry for help, however veiled. The scene that I remembered came after this: slightly concerned looks, and complimenting my drawing abilities - and that was that. I'd given my mother too much credit. Of course she wouldn't have shown this voluntarily to anyone.

When my father slapped me repeatedly for "offending" him when I was 8 - and the physical part of it was actually minimal: the look of disgust, hatred, and contempt that was behind the dropped mask was the scary part - I told my mother "Now I love you more." I guess it was a plea: "Please accept me, please be on my side, I realize he's insane, won't you show to me that you do too?" She rejected this plea. She looked scared, anxious, guilty. Later, I heard her feebly say to him "You may have gone too far," and he just told her to shut up. And that was that.

She betrayed me. She showed me I could never count on her, I was always to be on my own.

And when I was 20 or so, and she said to me "You're growing up to be a really decent person" - well, that wasn't the whole scene. I censored it the first time I wrote it down. She said: "I was so worried for you, but you're actually growing up to be a really decent person after all." I had no idea what that meant, but it made me uncomfortable at the time. Why was she worried? Because she knew I was growing up amid dysfunction? Or because I drank a lot as a teen - she complained about this to my aunt at the time, worried about me? And how did she know I was becoming a decent person? That also made me uncomfortable at that moment. What did she know about me, apart from the fact that my grade average was good and I was the student representative? Nothing.

Right now, I'm angrier at her than at my father. She Saw something was wrong, but was too weak to protect me. Instead, she sacrificed me and used me as a shield.

She told a colleague I'd "saved" her from having to visit her awful MIL every night, and she was happy my father, her husband, now finally seemed more interested in his FOC.

I wasn't born to save anyone or any marriage.

I wasn't born to live silently on a shelf at home and perform for others in public as the happy, vivacious, spoiled rotten child. No wonder I was sometimes too loud and sometimes too shy - I had no idea what was expected of me and how to accomplish just that.

I was born to live.


  1. You weren't a doll. My situation was the reverse, I was to please my mother and my father hid behind me when she was in a rage. In a way I do hate what he did more because he saw enough of the problem to pay me after when of the more severe screaming sessions. Human sacrifices still happen. You didn't deserve it.

    1. Human sacrifices is so right. That's what they did, the enablers. You didn't deserve it, either. Thank you and hugs.

  2. I hate when children are born with a "job"; to save a marriage, protect their parent, make their parent feel needed, fulfill an obligation my their parent to their grandparent, to provide someone something to do in life, to fill someone else's life up. It makes me so angry. And I think it's the "norm" more than it is not.

    1. Unfortunately, I believe you're right. And there's always some narcissism involved in using a child as a means to an end.

    2. Yeah, me and Jessie were just talking about this. It's my big fear - why I don't want to have children, though on the other hand I really do. I want to be so sure I'm not having them to fulfill me but the other way around.

      I'm really grateful to you and Jessie for keeping this dialogue open. It's really one of the bigger problems I have. I was born a scapegoat. I was born to make my NM feel good about herself. Imagine that career! ;-)

  3. The price we pay for simply being children in our innocence for the unfortunate circumstances of our birth resonates through out our lives. There is so much grief, so much sorrow, so much that is left unexplained and unfinished.
    Yet it needs to be. We can not look to "them" to help us put the pieces together now any more than we could look to or depend upon them as Little Ones. So we do our best to pick up the pieces and put them together now, as adults, as "groan-ups."
    And we wonder, "Why was I so unloveable? Why was I so unacceptable? Why am I STILL these and more? How can I please you? What does it take for you to love me, to accept me AS I AM?" And why am I still feeling this way now?"
    I believed it was some innate, unacceptable character flaw in me. I now know it wasn't about me at all. But that child still knows the pain of never "enough" of anything that would be enough because it never was about me. This is what I mean about vestiges of this Legacy I will live with until my death to this world.
    Over time, it's dissipated. But it's still there, just in a different way: A dull ache, the recognition of what should have been and never was, a void that while unfortunate is a fact of my life.
    Years ago, my S/M came to visit, Dad had died, and my DH died 4 yrs. later. This was about 10 yrs. after Dad's death, 5 yrs. after DH's untimely death. I drove us to a resort area not far from where I live and we wandered up and down the streets and the shops, having fun as two contemporaries although many years separated us. She was born in 1909, had lived through so much in every way and now she was in her 80's. After our fun wandering around, and dinner at a nice restaurant we headed "home." And ran into a down-pour after a perfect summer day and so typical of the mountains. Honey (S/M) appeared to be sleeping, she was sitting in the passenger seat and very quiet and I was thinking of pulling over because of the rain and this back road that was flooding. All of a sudden she said, "TW, your life has had so much tragedy" and I about drove off the road for sure with that comment out of no where. She became very animated and recounted many events in my life that mirrored my father's. She knew him from the time he was a child. (They had been engaged many years before, long story.)
    I have NEVER seen my life as a tragedy. It's been for me an adventure. The highest of highs, the lowest of lows. And my challenge has always been to find that center line of the road. I've wandered all over this road called life from Center Line to sub-grade daylight right into the ditch. But Honey said, "The people that experience so much in their younger years have much more peaceful older years...as if they have Front-End Loaded Mutual Funds.."
    She's right in my experience. Peace comes with acceptance and doing the honest stuff and working the pain, acknowledging it and grieving what was not or ever will be. Through no fault of our own. It's life on life's terms, not mine.
    There is a pace called Peace within us. It doesn't mean we forgive or forget, it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt because it does. But it changes over time, PA. Just as you are.
    In leaps and bounds. You just leave me with a profound sense of awe. And I think, "Now I understand what Honey was saying to me."

  4. ("pace" was a sp. error; I meant "place." TW)

  5. Thank you, TW.

    "A dull ache, the recognition of what should have been and never was, a void that while unfortunate is a fact of my life." - This is where I'm just now starting, hoping to get to deeper and more painful stuff later.


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