Most daughters have fond memories of their mother. Although I have these, the bad ones far outweigh the good.
My mother was never ready to be a parent, and I think that having a child with a disability was just another thing that she couldn’t handle. Unfortunately, my sister and I were the ones who had to pay for this. when I was young, I learned very quickly to keep my mouth shut. This involved not arguing or standing up for myself when she yelled at me for things I couldn’t control, or if something happened that was not appropriate to not tell anyone about it because it was “nobody’s business”.
My mum’s always been good at acting, and pretending to be something she is not and painting my father and my stepmother as the bad guys. this isn’t true, and the purpose of this blog is to stop the silence and dispel the lies.
My parents divorced when I was five, and my sister was 3. at the beginning of their separation, my mother had us with her more than he did. My mother would make us feel bad about going to his house, and would cause a scene so that we would spend the first day of our time with him feeling bad about leaving her. She would fill our heads with the thought that Dad was trying to “steal” us from her, that he was a bad parent, etc. I think that the only reason she did this was because she knew she was in the wrong, so she had to make him look worse than her.
When you are a child with a disability, your relationships with your parents are complicated. Most children don’t rely on their parents for their basic needs once they reach childhood… toiletting, dressing, etc. are things that children grow into doing for themselves. I, on the other hand, cannot develop those skills because my disability makes them impossible to do on my own. I was, then, extra vulnerable to her because I was at her mercy. I could not run away if she started throwing a tantrum. I relied on her for care, so was constantly on edge because I didn’t know when she was going to fly into a rage.
My mother, for the most part, was not physically abusive. However the mental abuse was extensive. She would sometimes make me feel badly about needing help, or say that I wasn’t “trying hard enough” to do things that I just couldn’t do. I can’t stand up, for example. Sometimes, when she was helping me with getting dressed, say, she would tell me that I wasn’t trying hard enough to stand, or wasn’t pushing hard enough with my feet. Now, I’m as lazy as the next person, but really, I was doing the best I could. I remember one time, trying to push my legs against the floor while she pulled my pants up. I was leaning against her while she did it. She was pressuring me to push my feet harder, and I was pushing so hard, my leg was trembling. I wasn’t afraid that I was going to fall and hurt myself, but I was afraid of her yelling at me if I fell.
Doesn’t seem right, does it?
She was nicer when we were in public, however if she did get mad she would whisper under her breath to us, threateningly. It was chilling. I remember her hissing “don’t you dare fall” once while she helped me with the toilet at my grandmother’s house. It was like a snake, coiling, ready to strike if I fell. It made me feel scared, and trapped. It made me feel inadequate.
On occasion, if we did something she didn’t like, she would say “I don’t love you anymore”. Other times, she would cry in the bathroom, waiting for us go to the door and comfort her. My little sister did most of that comforting. Again, doesn’t seem right, does it? Children should not feel inadequate and trapped, and scared by their mother.
Mothers are supposed to protect you from the monsters under your bed. Instead, sometimes it felt like my mother was that monster.When you are unable to anticipate when that monster will rise, you start to play games with yourself. You get quiet, and compliant, and you learn to shut your mouth. You learn that there are two realities – the one you live in with her hissing hatefulness in your ear, and the one where you are safe and sound and “normal” at your dad’s. There was also Public Mom versus Private Mom, which is true I have discovered of any abuser. The real power was that we were complicit in keeping Public Mom’s image intact. We were silent for many years.
It is very sad.
When I started telling what she’d done, things started to change. So I moved in with my Dad and Stepmother when I was 14, and Erica followed a couple rocky years later. I’ve tried to have some sort of relationship with her, but every time I let her in, something goes wrong. So I’m stuck between what I feel i should do as a daughter (which is have a relationship with my mother) and what is healthy (which is to remove her from my life entirely – something my sister has already done).
For some reason, I have trouble making that leap. I think that is because she is my mom. Regardless of what people do to you, you can’t choose your family. Your family always has some sort of special bond with you regardless of how fucked up they are. The trick now is to take the power back, and that’s what I’m hoping to do with this blog. After 20 years, she can’t scare me anymore, though she does.
I’m scared to write this blog post. I’m scared to publish it, scared to deal with her anger and the aftermath. I’m scared that people might not believe me. I’m also scared that they will. I don’t seek to destroy my mother’s life, but I want to have her stop lying to people. I want her to stop bad-mouthing the man and woman who raised her children when she refused to do so in a proper manner.
What do I want from my mother? I want her to fess up, and not just to me, but to everyone else she’s ever lied to. I want her to stop pretending, and bad mouthing the woman who really has been my mother. I want her to apologize to me, and really mean it.
I want the monster under my bed to finally go away.