I remember the exact beginning of the dark times.
Warning: bad parenting, dark tone
You have to understand, I grew up knowing my mother never loved me. How could she? She didn’t respect me. She didn’t even know me, not cared to. She had some mental image of me she talked up to her friends, but she cared not one bit for anything I had to say. I wasn’t a person to her, I was a child, so nothing I thought or said or did mattered.
Aside from that, however, I was also naughty in that way that children always are. I made messes and noise, I had school expenses and after school activities and generally made her already difficult life that much more exasperating. I inherited from her a nasty temper, and was often on the wrong end of hers.
I have always found anger easy at hand when I feel people are being mistreated. In those days, that applied to myself as well. So when she would go off into a tirade, I would give as good as I got.
On this day, I was in the backseat while she was driving. I was ranting at her, as I did, when she happened to check the rearview mirror while I glanced that way. What I saw in the mirror wasn’t an evil dictator bent on destroying me or some nebulous force of evil. It was simply a woman, exhausted from a long week, age starting to creep up on her. I was ashamed. Here I was being just as bad as her, hurting her the way she hurt me. I promised myself I’d stop behaving this way, if only so I would know I was the better person.
There’s a funny thing about rock concerts: if you stand and listen to the music it is unbearably loud, but if you sing along at the top of your lungs it almost seems to form a protective bubble that shields you from the worst of the noise and makes it tolerable. When I stopped yelling back, it made an opening for the words to really sink in.
She didn’t just not love me. She hated me. She wished she’d never had me, I was an ungrateful, worthless failure of a daughter. To be fair, I don’t know how much off it was explicitly stated versus how much was implied; at some point I was told that holding onto the exact words was making things worse. But what I heard was pure bile, aimed at me by my own mother.
There are sayings about mothers. They’re the only people who love you when you’re at your worst. How could I, how could anyone listen to that and not let it sink in?
I walked away to try and diffuse the situation. She followed. I locked myself in my room. She shouted through the door. When she noticed me crying she accused me of faking it to get attention, ordered me to stop crying. That I remember, it sticks out for sheer spite. You never tell a child to stop crying. All the books said it would make them emotionally stunted. She had read the books, she knew that, but she didn’t care.
Without noticing my change of heart,over the next few months she undermined my self esteem, made me doubt my own mind. When I could no longer hide it, she convinced me I had something wrong with me, some inborn mental illness that made my own brain lie to me, ensuring it would bee years before I would trust myself at all. All the while she congratulated herself on being such a good mother.
If I could change one thing about my past, it would be to keep fighting to the bitter end rather than try for peace. Not because that’s a good strategy in general, but because it was my only defense that I had to protect myself from the….. I hesitate to say abuse. It’s such an ugly accusation and I can’t be sure.
I think that’s all for now. Too much in one post and I’ll get broody. Thank fate for spring sunshine. Winter is a bad time to dwell.