Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Breaking the Cycle

 A year ago, I told you about getting back in touch with my mom, about my hopes and excitement about rebuilding our relationship. I had a lot of big ideals and pretty words on the subject. I thought I had grown up. I thought it would be wonderful. I thought I could handle it.

I told you about the person I used to be. I told you that I have spent years rebuilding my life, taking care of me, becoming the person I want to be- one day at a time. I am happy with who I am- I've worked hard for that. I am mostly confident, semi-strong, and definitely independent. I know my worth.

I love my life, I have been blessed a thousand times over. I get along with my exes, I have some amazing children, my granddaughter is adorable. I have a wonderful boyfriend, a good friend in my son's step-mom, I'm reconnected with all of my siblings, and I'm going home. Good things are happening, and I have great hope for our future.

Over the past year, I haven't spent much time with my mom. There are texts here and there, spotty visits that never last more than a few minutes. She exists and I'm acknowledged, that's good enough. Until we are forced together.

For one week last month, I spent quite a few hours with her helping my brother. Every single thing I have done in the past 9 years is gone. I am humiliated and ridiculed, criticized, cut down, and slapped in the face with every mistake I have ever made- with quite a few lies thrown in- to break me down even more, to make sure that I am completely and utterly put in my place. Three nights in, I broke. Everything I worked for shattered. I cried my way home over what a piece of shit I was. How worthless and undeserving of anything good.

The next day, I couldn't take any more. In the middle of her show, I stopped what I was doing and sat down to get some relief- you can't be attacked for nothing, right? I watched her, trying to decide... Is she so stupid that she doesn't know what she's doing...or is she mean enough that she just enjoys it? I quietly whispered to my boyfriend that I should have stayed home where I could at least be useful. She stopped in the middle of critiquing the room to raise her glasses and look at me. The way she stood there with a look of disgust and self satisfaction on her face, waiting for me to either acknowledge how pathetic I was or do something else that she could judge, answered my question. I smiled, spread my hands and laughed- "what? I'm not doing anything. Just sitting here."

For a week, I frantically searched for the cause. What did I do to make her hate me like this? What is it about me that makes her so angry? How can anyone care for me when I am such a horrible person? It must be because they don't know who I am. I ripped myself apart using her words, the words I've heard repeatedly since the first time I remember her grabbing me, shaking me, and screaming at me that her life was my fault.

When that got old, and she found a new target, it turned into he said/she said with everyone supposedly having something to say about me- making her my only "friend" and so very sorry that she believed for a second anything anyone had to say about me. I'm starting to think I'm a bit insane, which isn't too far off considering the mental health issues we've been dealing with at home and the fact that I am my mother's daughter and that woman wears insanity more naturally than anyone I've known. I've been torn down and torn apart, twisted up in truth and lies to where I'm questioning myself and those closest to me.

In the end, I see one thing clearly- I am a better mother than I ever thought I could be.

That Thursday morning, I sat in Walter's SRO's office with him. I saw his tears overflow as he told me his meds just aren't working. I saw his sadness as he explained on a paper that is going in his permanent record why he deserves two days of ISS for bringing tobacco products to school. He was so upset that I took him home with me that morning. We left the building with more understanding from the officer and the head principal than I ever expected. The officer told him he could come in and talk to him any time, no matter what. We walked out side by side, in silence. We were almost home when he looked at me with a hopeless expression, "I really messed up." I can hear in his voice what he is saying, how seriously he's taking this. It's serious, but I know what he's doing because I have been there. I have done anything and everything to try to feel better, feel better about myself, and sometimes to just feel anything. I get it. "No. You made a mistake. It's not the end of the world."

Some relationships cannot be salvaged and should not be rekindled, but sometimes, those relationships are the ones you learn the most from.


  1. Oh, Mama, how those relationships with our own parents can bring us back to the scared, hurt, shamed children we were. You are not that child now, and she has no more right to treat you that way now than she did then. And yes, you are a good mother. And a great person. <3

  2. I love you!

    Not only are you amazing, brilliant, and strong--for knowing the truth and being willing to wonder about it--but please know that not only do YOU benefit from recognizing and breaking the cycle, so do all of your children, grandchildren, their friends, their future families, your readers, your future readers, even possibly your mother... it's a beautiful and powerful thing you are courageous enough to do. And keep doing.

    And though it will never be easy for you (sorry, but my mom has been burdened with the same important role as you and I know it's gotten easier, but never easy) it will always be worth it.

    I adore you, Mama!!!
    You are a hero, in the truest sense of the word.
    Sorry about that, but thank-you too!!!!
    Hugs, hugs, hugs, and hugs!!!

  3. Your words brought me to tears. I too had a mother that, for as long as I can remember, told me that I should never have been born, and that I ruined her life. Those are hard words for *anyone* to hear, let alone a 3- or 4-year-old. Those words are in my heart and in my bones, every day of my life. I never feel good enough, I always feel guilty - like every bad thing that happens is my fault (I should never have been born!). I'd like to say that as a 50-something adult who has lived a lot of life, raised an amazing strong independent strong daughter, been successful in most everything I have ventured to try, that those feelings go away, but they really don't. So I hear you. I *really* hear you. But do know this. This has nothing to do with you (intellectually I know that about my situation, too...but my emotional voice is so much more powerful), and everything to do with your mother. My mother had a good deal of crazy...and many years of depression. Undiagnosed and untreated, it was mostly taken out on me. She's gone now...never got to meet my daughter...for better or worse? Who knows. But also know this....every thing that has happened in your life, including your mother's ($^&#!!) treatment of you, made you the person you are today. A strong amazing woman and parent. So in a way....you know what I'm saying. Just go be your own person - you're awesome.