At a time of year when most of my writer friends are lamenting over beautiful memories with their mom, I sit here with a heavy heart.
My own mother and I have had a rocky relationship. There were times when I couldn’t stand to speak to her. She probably wasn’t real crazy about me at times either.
My mother was abused as a child by her own mother, GrammaDearest. Severely. And my mother in turn was abusive to us.
My sister and me.
I am sitting here right now trying to recall memories when I spent time with her and I was truly happy. I cannot think of one.
I remember being terrified of her as a child. I remember not knowing what to expect from her. I remember being locked out of the house all day in the summer because she didn't want us to make a mess in the house.
I remember lying on my bed at night. My sister sleeping on the top bunk and hearing a terrible loud, crashing sound. That was the night she drove my dad’s brand new truck into the enormous oak tree in our yard. On purpose.
I remember when she burned my favorite stuffed animal in a fire because I took it outside of the house and it got dirty.
I remember her driving the riding lawn mower into the lake because she was pissed at my dad. Again. (He may have deserved it, I don’t remember that part.)
I remembered getting smacked it the face, lip bleeding. She dug her fingernails into my skin regularly.
I remember her yelling. And smashing things. A LOT. Like my favorite Santa Claus decoration. And burning my dad’s art easel and other things of ours to punish us.
Apparently she is a pyro on top of her other issues. That was supposed to be funny.
I remember one of the nights they were fighting. Again. And my dad shoved my mother back from him. Only her head hit the wall where a nail was hanging. And the nail went through my mother’s ear lobe at the top and ripped all the way down and through. There was blood everywhere. I was horrified. And afraid.
Living with her was like living with a time bomb. You just never knew. We grew up walking on eggshells. No wonder I’m a nervous fucking wreck.
Oh, and there was the language. She taught me my colorful vocabulary. She could swear the wallpaper off of a wall. She called my dad horrible things. Horrible.
I remember praying to God regularly. “Please God. If you’re really real, PLEASE let them get a divorce. PLEASE." They never did.
As I got older, my mother couldn’t hurt me with her hands any more. The last time she hit me was when I was about 11 or 12. She swung at me. I had planned it in my mind over and over and I finally got the courage this time. I grabbed her wrist and stopped her arm mid-air. And I told her, “Don’t you ever lay a hand on me again. Ever.” She never hit me again.
But there were many times when her words and behavior hurt people worse than her hand ever could. Like the day of my wedding.
So sadly, this Mother’s Day I will not be filled with joy and admiration for my mother like a good daughter should be. I will not reminisce about the times when we played dress-up or she let me put on her makeup. If any of those things did happen, they were overshadowed by the traumatic memories and long since forgotten.
What I can do though is forgive her. She has changed. And the death of her own mother has awakened the sleeping elephants no one would talk about until now.
I can also tell others my shameful embarrassing story.
Not because I am ashamed of my mother, but to show others that the cycle can be broken.
But only when you stop ignoring the elephants. Find someone to talk to. Get help.
There is no shame. Let your elephants go.
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