When I was fifteen, my mother got involved with this man who had been on the periphery of our lives for many years; one of the fathers of kids I went to birthday parties with.
He was very seductive, in that, for the first two months, he really did a good job of convincing all of us that he was a good guy and wanted the best for us. Then my mother and he decided to move in together. So, we packed up and my brother and I, moved in with he and his daughter.
He turned into a crazy person almost overnight.
He started to lock us all in the house at night. We couldn’t use the phone, we couldn’t watch television, we couldn’t eat anything but fish, salad and soy protein. The he started to curse me, then physically beat my ass.
A couple of times, my mother helped him. He broke a mop stick over me once, and hit me in the same knee that was suffering from the chondromalacial patellae. The only reason I think they stopped was because my brother stood up over me and said if they hit me again, he would kill them. He picked me and carried me into my room. Together, we decided we were running away.
We got as far as about two or three miles away, before we got picked up by the police and the whole debacle turned into drama fi real. The Child Care Board was called in, and as far as my mother is concerned, I betrayed her.
When I graduated from secondary school, my mother refused to come to graduation ceremony, because she wanted me to go to sixth form and I refused. I wanted to get out into the world now! So I graduated from school with a friend (who didn’t attend my school) and her father coming to support me, and still feeling as though I was alone.
I don’t know if I can contemplate all the dark things that my mother did to me as a child… the stripping off my clothes to beat me with my grandfathers heavy belt; how she used to beat me out of frustration and cut my skin up. How even as a child, I knew I couldn’t have been that bad.
I look back on my growing up years, I remember parts of my mother’s story, the things she told me, the things other people told me; it’s impossible not to ponder the deep nature and texture of your mother’s character. I think it’s especially compelling when you are still struggling to break free of the set up shit, trying to make peace with your past and things you’ve done; trying to forget pain and suffering, trying to forget the depths of my deprivation, a rich and thick tapestry of confusion, insecurities, silence, violence and shame. She was so undemonstrative, I was pushed away so much, rebuked so often, it just seemed to me that there had to be something wrong with me.
I say all of this to say, my whole life I have mistrusted my mother. I do not trust her completely, and while there are things I like about her, the older I get, it’s the more my mistrust deepens, and it saddens me immensely.
For about five or six years now, I’ve become far more passive, less inclined to anger and hot headed defensive behaviour. The onslaught of her poisonous words, her irrationality and penchant for unpredictable violence (not on me, but upon my property or on convenient property), over the years have brought me to this place where instinctually, my response is to for the most part, not respond in kind.
I find myself becoming more and more silent in the face of her emotional facism, blackmail; I find I have allowed her to get away with so much where I am concerned. What I mean to say is, when I was a child, I was very prone of hot anger and all who offended me got it, full force sometimes, without discretion. My mother said I was very hard on her, but she did so much shit, it was hard to take the unfairness of the things she did. I was a child, she was the adult. I was always held accountable to her, yet she felt in no way accountable to me, and this is where our relationship has always faltered. She could make decisions about my life, she could say yes or no, yet the real kind of consideration and love she should have shown me was masked by this hard exterior.
I know I was hard on her. Now I see it as my defensive mechanism building up strength and the will to fight for myself. Especially when I saw that my mother did many things out of her insecurities and fears. I mean, burning food is hardly a reason to get a cut ass.
This is all unoriginal, however, for me to really understand I need to go through this with as much of a fine-toothed comb as I can.
How is it, that I must pay, pay, pay, pay for the mistakes of my childhood, and yet, I cannot hold her accountable for the shit she did to me? Am I wrong to feel disgusted, and not slightly awed when I look back on the inept way in which my mother handled many, many, many situations.
In my early twenties, I felt like I had forgiven her, because the bulk of her early story I finally got out of her. I got her to admit that she was abused, seriously sexually abused as a child. It took her years to tell me the parts of the story she could; five or six years. But for me, they were clues to understanding much. They allowed me to excuse many things.
She was good about stuff too, don’t get me wrong. We were fortunate in some ways, but in others… that’s it you see, everything is about polarities and the unsettling passages between the extremes. My life with her has been one of never knowing if we were on solid ground; never trusting her promises that she broke too conveniently because she could never just make up her mind and fucking stick to anything.
I also made a lot of stupid choices about things. Things I regret, but can only blame my inexperience and immaturity for them. For a long time, I would listen to her, listen to the things she was saying. I would comb through her words and learned to discern what was true and something I should consider, and what I should discard as her insecurities talking. I understand the elements that are motherly concern. However, I disagree with how she acts on her concern. In the thirty years of my life, my mother reacts badly to everything, never chooses love and unconditional support; has engaged in psychological warfare of the most covert and deceptive kind. Made the choice to manipulate rather than guide.
When I was younger, there were things I loved about her. Her rebelliousness, the way she never talked down to us because we were children. The way we could read any book we wanted to, and did. How she exposed us to art, music, culture and information. The long, funny conversations the three of us (my brother was with us) had over the years; the long discourse, long into many nights about all things small and great. She’s good at those things. She’s very clever, very creative, warm when she wants to be and very beautiful. It’s hard not to love her, but she’s deceptive as well. For me, maybe not with others who don’t know her as well, or have lived with her as long, those great qualities come with the aforementioned ‘polarities’. It’s constantly swinging pendulum.
What’s more, much of those things I liked about her as a child, seemed to have gone. She’s become the ultra-conservative, conformist who I don’t recognise as the woman I knew as my mother of my childhood. Te crazy shit, the manipulation that stuff remains the same, but elements of her personality have radically shifted. It’s like she’s a different person and yet the same.
I am disappointed that even though I’ve been trying now for several years to forgive and move forward with her, eventually, her history, abuse and own emotional deprivation no longer provide a bulwark against her still rampant immaturity and emotional selfishness. I find I can no longer excuse her if she keeps compounding her mistakes and not really making an effort to meet me halfway.
Christmas was just more evidence of this condition. I guess this too I will have to accept.
I just remember the seer’s words. (see “Of Seers And Escape”