Sorry about the gross title, but I don’t know how else to describe it. I purge the wound, or at least, I think I have, and then I find it runs far deeper than I realized.
Yesterday, I wrote about an event that happened 30 years ago. Pinkie was the apparent villain of the story, but it was my mom’s lack of response that still hurts me. When we were headed home, my mom made the comment that Pinkie was the bitch. Gee… ya think? Thanks for standing up for me.
So, today, between trying to kill myself weeding the front yard and picking up groceries in the thick, smokey, northern Nevada, August air, I’ve had a thought that hadn’t occurred to me before.
When I was about 10 years old, my mom told me that I was her best friend. I’m sure I probably was at the time, as we were living in Texas, far from home and all those we knew and loved. This was after having lived in Germany for three years. There was no Internet. We had a phone in Texas, but we rarely called anyone.
Hearing her tell me that I was her best friend felt like the most wonderful thing she could have said to me at that age. As I’ve discussed previously, I craved my mother’s praise like an addict craves heroine. I wanted her to love me most of all. I did everything I could to get her to tell me what a good girl I was.
And this is why it was so confusing for me, when we moved back to California, and she didn’t seem to like me anymore.
I realize now, through my own experience getting married at 18, that when she and Chuck split, she kind of let me be the grownup and she went ahead and had her adolescence. She used drugs and drank a lot. She slept around.
She’d die if she knew that I knew this, but there was a brief time when we lived in a seedy, one-room motel when we still thought that Chuck would be coming back for us. In that time, she had two different men over for overnight visits on separate occasions. She waited until she thought we were asleep, but I was smart enough to realize that’s what she was waiting for, and my rage kept me from sleeping at all. So there’s a wound that has never healed: lying in bed, barely two feet from my mom’s bed, at the age of 12, listening to my mom fuck a man who was not my “daddy” (what I called Chuck back then), and feeling rage and the shame and humiliation of realizing that I was aroused by the sounds of my mom cheating on my dad.
Then we moved in with Mike, the man my mom would eventually marry and the man I now consider my dad. We were all supposed to be sleeping out in the rec room that had been built on to his garage. My mom would get up after she thought we were asleep and she would go to sleep with him. I knew this, too.
One time, I got up to use the bathroom, and when I came back, she was in her bed. I laughed, even then, at the absurdity of her thinking that I didn’t know.
That was a horrible time, when we lived with Mike but still at least pretended like we might go back to Chuck, who had been stationed back to Germany, but had no intention of bringing us back to him. We’re pretty sure he had a live-in girlfriend when he lived there. I don’t know how we know that, but I really don’t doubt it.
In her drunkenness, my mom would often having wailing meltdowns. Those were just a few of the episodes that contributed to my fear of abandonment. I suspected that she would kill herself. I’d never heard of anyone doing that, but I had feared her doing that since my grandma, her mom, had been killed in a car accident when I was 8 and my mom was only 26.
I remember one meltdown in which she stood in the hallway crying toward heaven, “Mama! Why did you leave me?”
Sometimes, during those meltdowns, she would slump over on me and literally cry on my shoulder. “I’m so tired. So so tired.” I was a child, comforting my wailing mother, terrified that she would check out on me.
And after she finally decided she’d stay with Mike, they were regularly using meth and she got so thin. I thought she was dying of cancer or something she hadn’t told us about.
It was in those times that she let people berate me for things that had always been expected of me, before, like parenting my siblings.
Mike would call me “bossy,” for telling my siblings to do something or not do something.
My mom would yell at me for not watching them because I stopped moderating their behavior. It was so frustrating and confusing. There was actually a time when I thought she hated me.
I stopped writing at this point, last night, because Patch Adams was on HBO, and I’d always wanted to see it. Drew is a major Robin Williams fan, so he insisted that I stop what I was doing and devote my full attention.
I pretty much wept through most of the movie. I know the phrase is used way too much, but it “spoke to my soul.” Just writing those words made the emotions flare up inside me, again.
I’m going to go make my smoothie and feed my babies. Maybe I’ll write more later.
Have a great Monday.