humor · mental health

It Always Comes Back to the Mothers

I have been trying to organize my thoughts about Mom. I’ve never tried writing out the timeline, but think it could be interesting. Growing up, I would ask Dad why Mom has (what we call) episodes, but he didn’t know what to say.

When my parents got married, Mom was 20, Dad 25. She hated the idea of kids as much as I do. She was very “never, not ever” about it. Unfortunately, when the accident that would become me happened, her catholic beliefs wouldn’t allow for an abortion.

If I fault her anything, it is not getting an abortion. She and I would both have been much better off in the long run. I have strong feelings about abortion, but this is not the time. It is enough to say I am bitter toward those who want it outlawed.

As expected, the pregnancy was awful. Dad was thrilled, the poor guy. He loves kids for some reason. Go figure. To make it all extra poetic you need to know the only thing Mom feared more than my birth are thunderstorms. When she was young, her uncle was killed by lightning and she’s had PTSD about it ever since.

I was born on the 13th (another superstitious no-no), just two minutes after midnight during a horrendous storm. When we were released from hospital she packed her bags and went back to her parents house. Dad’s sister helped raise me the first 3 years. To this day Mom denies this. I remember meeting you, lady!

I don’t blame her for leaving, I probably would have too. Actually, I would have an abortion because I understand how unfair it is to bring a child into this world who isn’t wanted, but I mean if I felt like that wasn’t an option. I genuinely have no bitterness toward her in regards to leaving.

Mom’s poor luck continued. She was never able to afford leaving her parents. Her mother is also bat crap crazy, I’m currently looking in to how to get her on Hoarders. When Mom finally couldn’t stand living there anymore she came home, tail between her legs.

I’m not sure when, but eventually Mom grew to love me. She lost her temper easily but stayed sober. That already put me in a better situation than most neglected children.

For their faults, my parents were never into drinking, drugs, gambling, or any of the cliche dysfunctional kid complaints. I was spanked but not physically abused. I was just brain damaged in a way they couldn’t understand. Mom is of the variety that believes nothing is wrong with her, it’s those damn liberals.

When I started kindergarten I didn’t understand what it was or why I was going. I saw being left with strangers as the ultimate betrayal. The first seeds of real resentment were sewn.

I hid under a large table for the first day. They keep a record book of silly things kids do. I’m in there for hiding under the table, crying “you’re going to eat me if I come out.” Dad was called in to coax me out, and I was labeled a flight risk.

Once again, Google has provided an accurate representation of what I saw from under that table.

I couldn’t make friends. I wanted nothing to do with those kids, nor they me. Mom tried to buy cute outfits I refused to wear, and gave up trying to do my hair.

My ‘getting ready for school’ routine was: wake up, comb hair, (comb, not brush) and throw on clothes I picked out myself. They never matched and no one did anything about it. Dad thought it was adorable, Mom was so angry she went to her happy place, and other kids used it as ammunition. There was one boy as socially damaged as myself. We stuck together, but only so we wouldn’t be alone. We never played together or whatever kids do at that age.

In 2nd grade I found my first full time bully. By now the kids understood I was the Cootie Queen and acted accordingly. Bully beat me up on the playground every day, but the teachers wouldn’t stop her and I couldn’t tell my parents.

If I knew what I know now, I could have said, “No, you’re the loser because you just put dirt in your mouth and said ‘a boys been here.’ We’re on a playground! Boys are everywhere! Why did you eat dirt?!”

I didn’t actually find my BFF until 3rd grade. I got super lucky with that one. She’s the first one who tried to teach me social skills. I have always admired her patience, but if I’m being honest, she had some violent tendencies when we were kids. More on that later, we’re talking about Mom right now.

All this time, I’m going to school with nappy bed head, mismatched Walmart clothes, and I have zero clue it matters.

The most important thing to Mom is what people think of her. My appearance stressed her out so bad, she wouldn’t be seen with me in public unless necessary. I stayed at daycare for an extra hour waiting on Dad to pick me up.

What makes it worse: Mom worked next door to my school. As a teenager, I would hop the school’s wooden fence and walk into the building’s back door.

I looked so bad in 4th grade, my teacher bought me hair clips and girly accessories to bribe me into grooming. I remember the looks of disappointment when I wouldn’t use them. I was incapable of expressing I didn’t know how to use them. I only tried once. I felt like I owed her for snapping on a girl who was picking on me. She was so harsh, the girl ran off crying.

I realize the picture I’m painting is tilting drastically toward an uncaring mother, but there were contradictions in her behavior that confuse me. Though they also read poorly, I think the intentions were there… somewhere.

Most prominently, how old I was before being allowed to sleep in my own room. It’s still really hard to say this. I was 11. Closer to 12. I know, I know, but I didn’t know then.

I wouldn’t think anything was unusual until my first sleepover. When it was time to go to bed, we slept with Mom while Dad slept in my room. I know, but I genuinely believed it. It’s unbelievable the noises that man makes in his sleep.

Of course, Friend went back to school and told everyone. Kids told me my parents were getting divorced. I adamantly argued with every ignorant 6th grader, “No, my dad snores.”

I was lucky. The torture would have been much worse had they not mistaken our sleeping arrangements as a recent development. Until a few months before this event, I slept between both parents. One day we realized if Dad slept in my room, his snoring would not bother us.

I went home furious. I demanded to sleep in my own room. Dad thought it was hilarious. I dramatically moved sleeping essentials into my room and threw Dad’s into the hall. For further flair I ripped off my bed sheets and demanded they be washed. I didn’t understand any of the dirty sheet jokes that were thrown at me, but understood enough to think they should be cleaned.

Mom tried to bribe me into staying, but I held my ground. Dad said the idea of me being back there while she slept scared her. It still bothers me that I didn’t get out sooner. I was a little scared at first, but I think it was just because I knew I couldn’t go back after my tantrum.

Dad is a very passive guy. The only thing I had seen of my parents fighting was Mom getting upset while Dad and I walked on eggshells until she went back to normal.

The first time I remember Dad getting angry enough to scream at Mom is when the stick stuck in my eye. I was outside for some reason, I hate outside, and piece of a twig got under my eyelid. I came in crying, it hurt and I was afraid of losing my eye.

Mom wouldn’t even look at it. She came running when she heard me crying, but once she saw I was holding my eye like that, she turned away. I told her something was in it, but she started backing away screaming for me to get out.

I was so confused. I cried harder. I didn’t understand. She wouldn’t let me talk. I kept trying to go to her, but she pushed me into the bathroom, still not looking at me. She locked the door, and told me to keep holding the lid away from my eyeball until Dad got home. Did she call him and tell him to come home now? No, because she knew what he would say if she did.

I don’t know how long I was in there. It felt like a long time. I just sat on the floor crying and waiting while I tried to hold my eyelid out for relief. Eventually I heard Dad come inside. I started screaming for him.

I could hear Mom trying to talk, but once I resumed beating on the door I couldn’t hear her anymore. I did hear Dad scream, “You did what?!” as the door opened.

He gently removed the twig from my eye and sent me to my room. In a trailer you can hear everything. Dad went the fuck off. I enjoyed it, I had grown pretty bitter in that bathroom.

Then one day when I was 15 the real screaming started. Mom’s drinking started. For weeks I was left in the dark. On the rides to school, Mom cried at sad songs on the radio. At home she sat in a chair, staring out the window all evening. I would grow to miss those blessedly silent hours.

When I finally snapped, it was on the way to school. Cry Me a River came on the radio and she started crying again. My word vomit was out before I realized.

I was yelling every scary question I had thought up over the last couple weeks. “Are you getting a divorce?”

“I don’t want my 20 year marriage to fail.” That was a scary answer.

“Is someone dying?”

“I wish they would.” That could technically be anyone knowing Mom.

“Is it cancer?” She stayed silent. That was the scariest yet. I’m not sure what else I asked, but when I got to school I was more afraid than I started.

That night, the usual screaming match began when Dad came home. What stood out most was Mom yelling “If you want to tell her so bad, go fucking tell her.”

I started squalling like a baby. This was it. Dad came to my room, and told me I have a half sister. The DNA tests are back, it’s official. If you add that with how Mom was behaving, the story gets pretty clear doesn’t it? But not really.

My sister is 10 years older than me. She was born before Dad knew who Mom was. Apparently, Mom “couldn’t stand the thought of someone trying to come between us.”

Even I thought that sounded paranoid. Not to mention, we didn’t really have a relationship. I guess she created one in her happy place. To this day, you can’t say Sister’s name without Mom going into a full meltdown.

I already wasn’t allowed to go anywhere or do anything without a ridiculous set of checking-in restrictions and curfew. I was the only kid who had to be home by dark. No one else could understand why I had to call them if we ran to Walmart or went to a video store, or decided to go out to eat. I didn’t understand either. Those rules existed before I knew Sister and got worse after.

Mom would tell me I’m allowed to see her, but I have to be honest about it. Then she would get drunk and grill me for every detail when I got home. If I didn’t see my sister, she accused me of lying to her. Dad told me to lie, “No matter what, don’t let her know.” This was extremely confusing to a teenager who was actively losing her shit.

My hair started falling out. I know all girls shed, but this was much more than that. It came out in clumps. I didn’t know what to do about that either. I used four shampoos and three conditioners to feel like I was doing something.

Even worse, I would share my experiences of Mom’s episodes to friends. Then friends would meet her, and Mom would be the sweetest little thing you ever met. Baking cookies, bringing treats to my room, all the tv mom stuff.

No one believed my stories about her until she slipped up. One day I was on the phone, and she thought it was Sister. She picked up the living room phone and screamed, “I know who this is, you didn’t have to lie about it.” She unleashed one of her crazier rants.

We remained silent. When she finally finished my friend said “Hey. It really is me.”

Mom hung up and never said another word. I finally had a witness.

The sad part is, all her episodes were for nothing. Sister and I never developed a real relationship. We are very different people. She’s the kind of person that thinks Dr. Phil is real. My trying to explain all the ways you can tell it’s not was our first bump in the road.

By the following year, we would barely be liking each other’s Facebook posts. All Mom had to do was sit back and wait. I hung in there trying to bond with Sister much longer than I would have if I hadn’t been too stubborn to let Mom win.

Things stayed so awkward in our home, I started packing my room up 3 months before I turned 18. I wanted to be ready to get out on my birthday. Then my birthday came and went, and I didn’t have anywhere to go. It turns out I was too lazy and unskilled at life to inquire about renting a house or apartment. I had no idea how to do any of that.

A few months later, while staying with Bestie, I stopped by my house to get something. While there, I smoked a bowl out of my window like I did every night. Weed saved my life. Weed is the reason I didn’t end up trying to kill myself again after that first attempt.

Unfortunately, my parents didn’t see us leave. They went to my room to ask me something and smelled the weed. They blew up my phone screaming for me to come home so we could have a talk.

Being 18, I felt like I didn’t have to do that. I was so sick of their talks. Their talks made everything worse. Mom panicked about every tiny thing. I have a hard enough time playing it cool without her sitting over my shoulder reinforcing all the dark thoughts I just spent hours trying to get out of my head.

I informed them this was the kick in the pants I needed to find a place and I would be by to get my things when I had something sorted out. I never slept in that house again.

I was so desperate, I moved into a duplex in a very dangerous neighborhood. The back door still had glass broken out from the last break in, the walls had holes everywhere from the cop raid, and the people living on the other side had drug orgies all the time. All those things aside, it was mine and only mine. I paid the owner and moved in.

The guy that lived there before me cooked meth and had to be dragged out of the attic after he shot a man in the head. That’s the kind of place I chose over having a talk with my parents. Of course I would go on to justify it by telling everyone they kicked me out for smoking weed.

I hung pictures over the holes in the wall because I couldn’t wait for them to be fixed and didn’t want strangers in there after my stuff and I were moved in.

Something to learn right now: To an only child, our possessions are alive and family.

Dad struck a deal. He would let me keep my car if I told him where I lived. I told him if he threw in a promise not to bother me about moving back it was a deal. When they came over, Mom was so afraid she wouldn’t get out of the car. She sat there and cried while Dad came in to complain about all the safety hazards.

Anyway, I guess that covers the highlights of Mom. I didn’t have the epiphany I was hoping for, but I’m use to disappointment. Thanks to all you imaginary people out there in my pretend audience!

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