Fucking Idaho weather. I could deal with the snow and rain and cold yesterday, because it is May in Idaho so 1.the weather is fucked up and 2. I knew the snow wouldn’t stick, and of course it didn’t. However, what pisses me off is that it froze last night, which the forecast did NOT predict, and killed off most of the flowers I planted in my planters on Mother’s Day. I am a little bit pissed off about this, because they were beautiful, and I don’t really have the money to replace them. In fact, the only reason I had flowers to plant anyway was because I got a gift certificate to a nursery for Secretary’s Day. I am feeling a little disgruntled and out of sorts, and the flowers are just kind of a metaphor for it all.
My mom called yesterday and of course I didn’t answer the phone. She had made an offhand comment when my sister and I met her and my grandma for the play right around my birthday about having thought about calling me on my birthdays, but then she just didn’t. No reason, mind you, just,”I thought about it, but I didn’t.” So the 38 year old instinct to protect my mom from any legitimate emotional pain kicked in and I said, “oh, yeah, it was no big deal, my birthday is just another day, don’t worry about it.” In return, she made the comment that by god HER birthday and Mother’s day were coming up and it better NOT just be another day for her or she will be pissed-so of course I “thought” about calling her on both days but “just didn’t.” Talk about passive-aggressiveness! Anyway, so I didn’t answer the phone, but then the old guilt thing kicked in, and the message she left was rather cryptic so I started to worry that something had happened to my grandma, and long story short, I called her back. and somehow got sucked into agreeing to let her and grandma come over to take us to lunch today. Of course Sam and Owen are thrilled, because they think that The Grandma’s are coming in honor of their birthdays, but I quickly had to dispel that notion-it would surprise me to no end if either of them even remembered that both boys were born in MAY, much less know that this weekend is the closest one to the actual dates.
Blah. family shit just makes me crazy, and I hate feeling this way. I hate hate hate that I am still so afraid of my mom that I get sucked into the old roles every single time. My sisters and I have discussed this, the propensity to, when she is getting too close to OUR personal lives, throw another of the sisters underneath the wheels of the bus, which is something we all hate about ourselves but seem powerless to stop. Whichever sister(s) is not around is the one we toss to her, because of course then she can be bitter and angry about the absent one while said sister is actually safe from her wrath.
We are all planning this vacation for ourselves and our families this summer, and our dad is also part of it, and I made the mistake of referencing the vacation when we were with mom and grandma. Baaad shiiit, let me tell you. I knew better than to EVEN bring it up, but it slipped out. So she went off on this tirade about how she wasn’t invited and she doesn’t understand why “the other sisters” don’t want to have anything much to do with her, and I swear to God I wanted to SCREAM. I wanted to yell, THIS is why. This is why we none of us are close, why we have to sneak around behind your back and plan to get together, why we all try to keep our relationship with you superficial. Mom had a year of therapy and some exposure to a 12 Step program 20 years ago and thinks now she is an expert, and she says things like,”I don’t have any control over what any of them think, and it is their problem, not mine, I know I was a shitty mom but there isn’t anything I can do about it now, I was just so crazy back then,” and all of that is TRUE, but what good are amends if they are made with a blanket,”I am sorry I was a bad mom, but let’s move on,” without any kind of real and true effort to move forward in a different direction? Maybe I ask too much, but I don’t need to hear that she was a bad mom-hello, I lived it-I know well the ways in which she was terrible to live with. What I need to hear is the specific ways in which she was a bad mom-not to beat her up with it, but to have her acknowledge the ways in which she fucked me and my sisters up. Because we can all do the blanket “I am so sorry I was so awful,” but unless we are given specific examples, there is no way of knowing whether or not true remorse exists. When my mom says shit like that, I think she is simply parroting back something her therapist told her all those years ago, giving her a lifeline and the opportunity for forgiveness and redemption, but she got to the “I was and am a terrible mom” part, took the bit about making amends, and skipped all the “what do I do now” stuff. Infuriating. I want the,”I am so sorry that I made all of you girls believe you were fat and ugly and worthless, I am so sorry that there were times when you had to sneak into the neighbors house for food, I am sorry I left you girls with a man who was fucking his own daughters while I went to find a place to live.” I want her to enumerate the myriad ways in which she let us down, over and over again, by participating in horrendous acts of abuse perpetrated by her string of husbands, by taking out her own helpelessness and fear on the four of us girls, for standing by and watching when we were beaten and humiliated and shamed for simply having the misfortune to have been borne to her. Maybe I do want her to say those things out loud, want to say them out loud to her, to hurt her. I don’t know, don’t know, don’t know.
Sometimes I think that I have come so much further than I have, I get complacent about my twisted and conflicted relationship with my mother and think there might finally be peace, but then something happens, some switch is triggered, and I am consumed with all those old feelings of rage and inadequacy, of shame and horror and god, there is no forgiveness when these things hit. She says things sometimes about how scared she was, how she did the best she could but didn’t know what to do and how to survuve with four children and no job and whatever….but I think maybe I just think she said those things, I don’t think I actually remember her saying them-even in my head I want to try to put myself into her shoes, to try to figure out her thought process at the time, and I stop myself because of this: I have four children myself. I know how hard it is, I know how fucking scary it is to know that they rely on you for everything, to think for a time that you need a man to step in and save you, I know that. I know how abusive men actively look for women like her, like me, like so fucking many of us, and I know how hard it is to break away from that. However, I also know that when you finally break away, you get fucking help and you make a commitment to save yourselves and your children and you make for damn sure that you aren’t falling back into the same steel trap with another and another and another man. I know that. I know that when someone sexually abuses your child, you stand for them, you fucking do whatever it takes to make sure there is some semblance of justice, you go to hell and back to make sure your children know that they come first. You do NOT participate in the sexual abuse, you do not leave your vulnerable children there with that man, and then you do not go find another one just like him to take the innocence from your remaining daughters.
I know that somewhere there is healing and grace; much of the time I feel it, for myself especially but for her, too, but today? Not one of those days. I know that I was well on the way to making those same kinds of mistakes with my own sweet children, and if I hadn’t been given the gift of sobriety AND decided to open it, my kids might very well be feeling the same way toward me. I know that I have made mistakes with my life, my children’s lives, I know that as sure as I know the sun is shining-so who am I to make judgements? However-we are taught in AA that even if we have visited atrocities on our children, ourselves, our partners and our friends and EVERYONE who came within our little circle of hell, no matter how fucked up and high or drunk we were, we are responsible. End of story. And the part of me that knows that to be a true fact is the part that gets so angry, so cold and heart and unforgiving. No excuse, no excuse, no fucking excuse.
So this is my Sunday thus far. I AM batshit crazy, but today there is no endearing quality to my craziness, no small glimpse of softness and kindness to buffer those sharp edges. I write about it here so I don’t cut my own loved ones with those edges, I clench my teeth so hard that I will not be able to open my mouth all the way tomorrow without pain, because I will not be her. I will not drink today to escape these feelings, I will not scream at my children for being too noisy or too lazy or too there. I will again not drink today, and I will not punish Steve for being born with testicles, for needing time to himself, for not rescuing me from myself. I will continue to NOT drink today, and will remind myself that this will pass, that somewhere, somehow, there will be one small thing that will allow grace in, one small thing that will help the anger start to fade from scarlet and black to the more muted shades of red and maybe, maybe, pink. I will not drink today, I will not be the killing frost that will turn everything beautiful in my life to a mass of unlovely black slime.
And I know this will pass, because that is the nature of it all. I know that somewhere in the depths of myself, there is a hurt and abandoned little girl, and this is who I speak for today. I will not drink to drown her out, but will instead listen to her rage and keep patting her and telling her that it is okay to feel however she feels, I love her anyway. I will feed her what she wants today, with toast and tea and lots of hugs, and if I let her speak but not allow her to hurt anyone, she will find her way through this. Somewhere on the other side, grace waits.