Talking to your mom’s hard enough. Imagine trying to talk to a schizophrenic one. I tried to have a conversation with mine for ten years. When I gave up, it was wonderful. So many authors, talk show hosts, and celebrity shrinks tell us about the importance of healing wounds with family. I remember one of my professors reading to a big crowd about reconciling with his homophobic father after 20 years. It was a moving essay. Everyone reacted with such emotion. And that’s fine. The problem? I wondered if there was something wrong with me after that. I didn’t want to reconcile with my mom. But then if I didn’t, then would I ever be able to write about my relationship with her? Turns out, yeah. I could. At 24, I didn’t realize that sometimes the best thing you can do is remove someone from your life permanently.
Part of the fault is mine. Let’s forget about all the teenage years for now. I write about that in my novel. I’m talking about adulthood. For a long time, I couldn’t sit in the same room with her for five minutes without losing my temper. About 80% of me fucking hates her with a primal rage. Dialogue was futile. She would ask me questions like, “How’s your classes?” and I’d get angry. Why? Because I already knew she didn’t really have the capacity to understand me. If I told her anything, she’d pretend to listen for three minutes and then say something completely random, something that had nothing to do with teaching, my job, or anything I’ve said. At worst, she would listen to me and say, “Maybe you should just quit. Sounds like you’re not good at it.”
Before you step in: Look, I get it. Adversity is great. After all, I wouldn’t have much to write about if my life had been roses. I’m pouting for art’s sake. Do you want me to write about my half marathon training routine? Didn’t think so. You like drama, you addict.
Anyway: In my teens, my mom would listen to me and then twist everything around to pit my dad, my brother, and me against each other. Can’t tell you how many fights she started because she would tell my dad something I allegedly said that was a complete lie. For example, one time she told my dad I was sick of his shit and moving out. Then she told me that my dad thought I was useless and lazy. By about 22, I’d finally learned never to trust my mom. Never confide in her, no matter how convincing she seemed.
If we’d had a healthier relationship, maybe I could describe the pleasure of just talking to my mom. You know, experiencing that emotional connection a daughter feels with her mother, even if her mind wandered. And blah blah blah. Nope. That bond no longer exists, if it ever did. When I look at her, I feel nothing. Except contempt. I see the woman who tried to kill me once, who racked up $50,000 in credit card bills, who I lived in fear of most of my life, the woman who gave me nightmares well into my 20s.
Giving up on my mom was hard, but it was the best decision ever. Haven’t spoken to her in almost four years now. My dad never mentions her around me. He knows. Hell, he finally managed to overcome his moralism and put her in a permanent facility. After a year away from my mom, even my brother’s doing better. I never thought he’d ever bounce back. But now he has a job and a steady girlfriend. I’m afraid to tell him I’m happy for him. I don’t want to jinx it.
Almost every day, I think about my mom. I wish I didn’t. I wish she were like an ex-boyfriend, someone I could forget about and move on. But that’s not how parents work. If you had an abusive mom or dad, that shit stains you. The best you can do is cope. You might be strong enough to overcome and make a life for yourself, but the abuse hangs around. It haunts you, forever.
A friend and I talked about trauma just recently. It was a candid conversation. We concluded that being normal isn’t easy for people with trauma. It doesn’t come naturally, and never will. You have to work it constantly. It’s just like going to the gym. My friend said, “It doesn’t get better as you get older. If you don’t work on it, things gets worse.” That’s what my mom gave me. Trauma that I work on every day.
Sometimes, some random troll reads my blog and writes a comment like this: “You need to toughen up some.” Hah. Fuck those idiots. I toughened up a long time ago. And I’m not writing for them. I’m writing for people who understand, and appreciate knowing they aren’t alone in their trauma. We’re not a snowflakes. We’re ninja stars. It’s funny. Imagine if I could download my life into a troll’s brain, Matrix style. I bet they’d implode from sorrow. Anyway, thanks for reading. I figured I’d try writing something a little more raw and see what happened. We do a range of things here: humor, advice, wailing. Something for everyone.