Mother and Daughter and Daughter and Mother
I froze. A chill ran down my spine. Are they really all gone? Every. Single. One. My husband doesn’t care, my daughter is only months old so she doesn’t even know. But I do and it’s strangely reminiscent of someone I know. |
She decided it was time for a change. Which meant that she’d had enough of the drug life and wanted to clean up again. It didn’t matter to her that this never works. It didn’t matter to her that I had already attended three different schools and was only in the second grade. None of that matters to her, none of that she even comprehends. Schizophrenia is a selfish disease. Bipolar disorder is a selfish disease and she will years and years later be diagnosed with both. But my suspicion is that the bipolar traits she has are due to years of meth use. Self medication? Sure, maybe. But I think she just likes it. I did.
The next step was to move in with my grandparents two states away. We had a car, but we rode the train. Frank, on again off again for a number of years, would follow us later with the car, which was loaded down with our stuff. In the trunk? Every photo album, framed picture that was constantly being moved from wall to wall of our “new” place. Our car, Ethel, would carry our memories from Nevada to Colorado shortly after we arrive.
But Frank never came, the car was “stolen” and with it the only evidence that I had a childhood with photographic worthy moments. Months later after Frank never showed and the clean life wore off, we headed straight back to Nevada.
Now, I sit at a desk in the spare room/office. My daughter and husband in the other room. My heart beats and my palms sweat and I feel like I cannot overcome the inevitable. I will become her no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try.
Of course, this isn’t true and the longer I have zero contact with her the more I heal and become who I am supposed to be as a mother but I can only feel like I’ve done what she’s done. It’s not my fault, of course, that my eight year old laptop failed. That every photo I uploaded to it, gone, every evidence that I tried to give my daughter a different, better mom than I had, whirring and scraping it’s way into nothingness. But it sure felt like it.
And now almost four years later. After finding that I had been a lot more meticulous than I knew, finding half of her life on a memory card in my husband’s digital photo frame, and the other half in the camera, memory card not uploaded and saved just yet.
I cried. I had proof. I wasn’t like her and was redeemed by my inability to understand computers, programs and my incessant procrastination. Except here I sit, four years, new laptop, 1TB hard drive, multiple thumb drives and memory cards later and I am not as together as I thought. I read and researched and found that the external hard drive was my answer to all my lost data problems. Or so I thought. I cried again but this time only for a moment. The cloud. That’s where it’s at....where I should have been saving it all along. THIS TIME will be different.
|I had some magic realizations about my 4 year old daughter today. She’s only been on this earth for four years. Literally half her life has been during a global pandemic. And yet she has the most innocent way about her too. If I could only remember the things she says. She absolutely cracks me up and her sweet questions, comments and concerns in this world sometimes shock me! Oh yeah, she’s four. She doesn’t understand sarcasm, don’t be a dick to your own kid. And she wants me with her all the time. I can’t remember a time when it was so simple. Bubbles and dandelions and rocks and sticks. Oh, don’t worry, they’re clean. At least the rocks and sticks that survive the laundry room. Why do I just take things people hand me? Luckily for me, pockets. Unluckily, nonluckily....? Unfortunately for my washer, pockets. The bike ride that we had the other day was so special and we had dandelions for rings and she carried a rock on the back of her tricycle and we raced. The sun was heading down, “the moon was coming up and long ago somebody left with the cup”...does music play in everyone’s heads? It was a fun afternoon. Today, we decorated for Halloween, well she let me, and then she tried on her costume. Well, she tried it on for me. She also stood up for herself tonight. She FELT that s***, again I can’t remember specifically what it was about but I had said something and she believed down in her core that I was wrong. And she was not going to back down and I realized that I am proud that she talked back to me. One moment I was like hell no you didn’t just argue with me then I turned and saw how sure of herself and I realized, my little non-issue (probably something stupid about spilling water out of the tub) didn’t matter. She truly felt like she needed to defend her beliefs. I saw that in her today and I WANTED her to win this fight so that she could see that when she really FEELS right and wrong, choose which one you want and be able to stand by that decision. Choose what you want and it’ll never be wrong. Choices come with consequences thought. Consequences of your actions, my darling, wonderful human, will always exist. But a consequence is not always bad. The word itself has such a negative connotation, but it literally only means the result of the choice. The sum of the equation. It can be good, too.
|It was a few months ago when I learned that there are people in this world that do not have an inner monologue and it’s baffling to me. Not only do I have an inner monologue but I also have a soundtrack. Often situations will arise and I automatically think of a song that suits it. But not on purpose, the thing happens, the song starts playing.
The one time a friend of mine was looking for my then husband and approached me and and asked where they went and I didn’t know they were supposed to wait for him. When he was super bummed that he got left behind, I actually sang to him: “I got no friends, no friends at all. People never call me and it’s all my fault.” (Pepper, Face Plant)He stomped away like, “I got friends.” I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings. It just came to me.
Another time when an ex showed up drunk on my porch and after talking to him for a while and realizing that he was just there because he was drunk, I told him to go home. He asked for a ride and I was like, “no, you can walk your ass home like you walked over here.” Then he asked if he could just sleep on the couch and I slammed the door shut. “I slammed the door right in your face, how’s it feel? How’s it taste?” (Pepper, Your Way). I love me some Pepper.
Songs literally speak to me sometimes. I feel them through my whole body. The Mountains Win Again, Blues Traveler has literally owned me. The time I saw Incubus, a band that has ignited my soul and directed my life a time or two, a group of friends was waiting for the show to start and they were guessing what song they’d play first and all I kept thinking was: “should I throw my guess out there?” Sure enough, Megalomaniac was my guess and it was the opening song...I felt that s***. Also, the encore We Are All Tomorrow’s Food and Brandon Boyd is just standing there, absorbing the energy and nodding, like, “yeah, they get it.” Well, Brandon, I did.
But it just recently occurred to me: is it not normal for someone to constantly have music playing in their head? If there are actual humans out there in the world that have no inner monologue then surely there’s people out there that don’t have a soundtrack.
|You suck. That’s the subject line from the most recent e-mail from my mother. Yes. The woman who birthed me. The one who raised me and “loved” me and the one I “discarded” when her toxicity leaked all over my infant daughter of twenty-six days. That’s the one. Obviously there is so much more to the story but this is just the most recent...episode...? I did block her and technically her e-mail was in the spam folder and I wasn’t looking for that. I was looking for something else completely and was genuinely shocked since it had been three and a half years since the last one.
You suck. That’s what she decided would get my attention. I guess she was right. She went on in the body of the e-mail to question whether I was actually having a relationship (albeit solely through social media) with my grandfather. Yes, her father. She wrote that he had called her mother a whore and told her that she was not his. And therefore, I could not be his family either. I do not know if this ever happened. My mother tends to create realities that suit her martyrdom. I’ve been a subject, savior, co-victim and recently the villain of many of her fantasies. To be clear, she has been clinically diagnosed with (and refuses treatment for) her mental illnesses. Which is what I am “recovering” from. It’s so strange that I started this account a decade ago, have been searching for four years now for an outlet, have always felt that writing it down is the best way for me to communicate my feelings and I just now realized that I have had this outlet at my disposal, calling to me from my inbox every so often. JUST now I found my tool for recovery. My outlet for letting ALL. THIS. s***. GO.
You suck. Every fiber of the stubborn, bull-headed, need-to-be-right side of my personality wanted to respond quickly and angrily and I honestly don’t know how I managed not to write right back. No, Mom, YOU suck. You don’t get to dictate my relationships. I am not responsible for the hurt you perceive in the relationship with YOUR father. I am not required to disengage with him because you SAY that he said horrible things ABOUT my grandmother TO you.
I am not completely innocent. I did deactivate my social media account. That was the reason she acquired the information that I had a relationship with my grandfather. I didn’t respond to her and I didn’t engage with her. BUT...when my aunt asked me why I was no longer on social media, I sent her screen shots of the e-mail. It did not make me feel better. It hurt her, put her in the middle of it, and then hurt my grandfather when she told him what my mom had written. I played the victim. Just like I had been taught and I have fought to change about my personality for so many years now. I regret sharing that e-mail with my aunt.
I regret so few things in my life. Not because I’m a saint or anything. Far from it but because I feel that each step and misstep I’ve taken has led me to who/where I am now. And I am happy. I always feel like people think I’m lying when I say this or that I sound disingenuous when I say I’m happy. Or that I need to follow up with an explanation or convince people that yes, in fact, I am happy. I know, I know “what others think of me is none of my business.” I know I’m not supposed to care what others think but it is a hard habit to break when it’s been ingrained in you for thirty some odd years. But I am happy. And guilty because a lot of my happiness has been a direct result of my decision to no longer communicate with my mother.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a LOT to unpack from our history though and I feel like I’m ready to get it out. Let it go and move on with my future. In the meantime, I’m doing my best to raise a strong, independent, mentally healthy and emotionally mature daughter of my own. I hope I don’t f*** her up...
|I’m sorry that I’m a jerk to you for no reason sometimes. I can’t really explain it except that people are jerks sometimes. And I am a people. Sometimes it’s a reaction to something you’ve done, but on those days where I am just, well, a jerk to you please understand this: I will try to make it up to you on those occasions. I’m still learning you. You are a whole, entire, full person and you have your way of thinking and learning and it’s not the same as me. I forget that sometimes and also the fact that you’re four years old. You’re learning this big, wide world for the first time and I need to give you a pass when it becomes overwhelming.
And I promise that I will never stop learning you. All about you. I want to know everything. What’s your favorite color, dinosaur, book? What’s your favorite part of the day and the least favorite? What does sunshine smell like to you?
I hope you find your voice in this world and USE it. Even if it’s against me, I hope you tell me everything and I hope you know that nothing you say or do could ever change the way I feel about you. I’ve got you. I will support you no matter what. My support may not look or feel the way you want it to, but, believe me, it’s there.
Remember please that we are all human, we all make mistakes and we all have our faults. Please embrace yours as much as your accomplishments, triumphs and successes because they are equally important to building you.
Please do your best and always try. You can decide after you’ve tried whether or not it’s for you. It’s okay to give up but please always try. Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back from trying whatever it is that interests you. Even if, ESPECIALLY if it doesn’t conform to society, someone else’s idea of you, tradition, expectations. You are the only one that decides what’s right for you.
|I read books, mostly fiction, about all sorts of things. A lot have to do with narcissistic abusers and their victims, recently. Sickeningly enough for my own personal entertainment. They all tell the same story about how it feels when the abuser is about to lose their temper, in some way. They describe it like an electricity in the air. They can feel it; it’s almost a tangible change in the atmosphere. Well, I don’t know if this is true, or if it just reads better but I do believe that some victims feel it coming. I never did.
Maybe it’s because I was a child or maybe it’s because I have been trained (by society and my mother) to not trust my gut instinct or intuition. By the way, that is VERY hard to change once you’ve lost trust in yourself, your ability to read the environment around you it is almost impossible to get it back. At least that’s the case for me. Either I’m irrationally scared or irrationally brave...another of my personality traits that I am working on reconstructing.
Whatever the reason, I never saw it coming. My mom’s boyfriend, whom I referred to as my step-dad even though they never got married, was unpredictable. Either he was a happy drunk that would decide I could have more freedom or privileges or he was disgusting, abusive, violent and scary. I never knew which it was going to be. I’ve heard people say, “it’s only when so-and-so drinks whiskey” or tequila or hard liquor, or whatever. I’ve heard that there’s a tipping point with some violent drunks. His seemed to have no bearing on the type of alcohol or any other factor. Of course, though, I was a child and not accustomed to monitoring someone else’s drinking habits, so maybe tequila or whiskey were his triggers. Who knows? Who cares to dissect it?
But I never saw it coming. As an allowance for a while, I would get my nails done. There was a little shop around the corner that I could walk to after school and I’d never felt so classy and grown up until that point. I loved it. Until one day, it was almost Halloween and the nail tech had just learned a new technique of building the acrylic up and basically making a “sculpture” with the material. We decided together on a spider. I can still feel the two, smooth little bumps of the spider’s body on my ring finger nails. I remember thinking how it felt like a NERD candy had been placed under my polish. As I sit here today reminiscing about it I realize just how perfectly that exemplifies my youth, innocence and naivety of that period in my life. Anyway, we decided on a beautiful, sparkly teal color and in the spirit of the holiday, the rest of my nails were left black. Completely innocent. Completely inconsequential in my mind. I practically skipped home. I honestly don’t remember if he was drinking that day, but I believe so, since the next day he was crying and laying on my floor asking both my mom and I for forgiveness.
The best description I can give for this is an explosion. He was INFURIATED that my nails were black. It didn’t occur to me that this would have been a problem. I loved those nails. I didn’t mean for them to be offensive. I still dressed up for Halloween. I still scrounged up change to go to 7-11 to buy candy and slurpees. I was just a baby trying to be a woman. I still to this day don’t know how black nails could have warranted the reaction. But it was bad. We ran from him (in the house of course) into my bedroom. He literally tore the bedroom door off the hinges and I remember my mom laying on me, and holding the door in between her and him and I was being crushed by the weight of two adults and a bedroom door on my bed. I didn’t think I was going to die but I was grateful we were on a give-able mattress and not the floor. And when he sobbed for forgiveness on my bedroom floor the next day, I lost a little more respect for my mom when she didn’t get us out of that situation, or at least call my dad and get ME out of it.
Of course he was forgiven and of course it didn’t stop and of course it progressed and got worse.
Eventually came the molestation and then even when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, that there’s no way she could keep me in that environment, with him anymore, she always turned around and went back. Well, I guess, “went back” implies that she left in the first place. She’d never leave. It wasn’t until I was in rehab at seventeen and FINALLY told someone else about him molesting me and FINALLY someone looking into it that she left. But then it became all about her. My poor mom. How rough she had it. How difficult it must have been to be the ADULT and making all the decisions.
I think I know exactly when the last spark of hope that I could be protected by her was the night that the door of her Honda Accord got hyperextended. How I lost all faith in my mother to protect me screamed at me from the bent door frame every time I got in to go to school or the store or left our house at any time by vehicle. It was never repaired and that made me disgusted in her too. At least if you’re going to PRETEND the ugliness of that night never occurred then erase all evidence. FIX THE f***ING DOOR.
It’s a shame too that I now can no longer listen to Alan Jackson’s Gone Country album. He played the tape, yes I know I’m dating myself, over and over and over that night. He sat in the dark getting drunker and drunker and drunker. I don’t know what started it, and in my mind it has NEVER ENDED.
It was a flash of anger, it was terrifying. Just the week or so before he had brought me with him to purchase the 9mm handgun that would be such a huge part of our evening. I remember seeing and wanting a precious little derringer that was chrome with a pearl handle. He would later purchase that gun for me and I still have it to this day. It’s worthless, really.
The fighting started, my mom and he had been yelling and fighting for hours, in between was that f***ing album. “She’s gone country, back to her roots, she’s gone country....” I don’t know what made us run but we did. My mom ran behind me and I got to the car first since the passenger side was closer to the door. She’s rounding the front of the car and slamming her door as he reaches mine. Then it’s there, right in my face, and right then I remember a brass coin nailed to one of the shelves in the gun shop. It looks like a coin and clearly has “KKK” on it. Even at 12, I was flabbergasted then convinced myself that 1. There’s no way they have COINS that go with their membership and 2. How could anyone be PROUD to be a member? And 3. Why would he sell a firearm to a Native American man if he’s so loyal to his “group?” Anyway, here I sit, in the passenger seat of my mom’s Honda Accord. He got to the door just as I was trying to slam the lock down, yanked it open and there it is: the 9mm hand gun. Only this time he’s not handing it to me butt first, unloaded, safety engaged for a shooting lesson. This time I’m looking at the part that will definitely kill me. As drunk and sloppy as he was only moments before he very clearly states, “get out of the car.” Then he turns the pistol to his temple, “I want you to watch me kill myself.” Repeat. Then my mom slams it into reverse and drives. The door knocks him back, I grab the door and pull and we drive to the end of our 25 yard driveway. She screams at me “why didn’t you lock the door?” And she stops just as I take a breath and realize that there are no gunshots. She stops. And my heart sinks when I realize we’re not really going, we’re not leaving tonight. No, sir. “The dogs. He’ll kill the dogs if we leave.” We pull between the shed and the haystack. Sleep in the car. Lesson number one, be faster when being chased by your mom’s boyfriend and his gun to lock the door. Lesson two, the dogs lives are more valuable than your daughter.