The nights are unsettling. Nightmares plague my sleep. This is usually the case when the darker waters of my psyche get disturbed. My mother is definitely a mossy, slimy boulder stuck in the dense mud of my fathomless ocean. On the outside I was slightly pleased with myself for finding her so quickly, relieving all of us from the burden of unnecessary worry but, on the inside the old familiar feelings of dread, anxiety and fear were at war with that small sense of relief.
To say that I have a love-hate relationship with my mother would be inaccurate. We have never fought, argued or even had harsh words. No, it has always been the words that were not spoken that have hurt me the most. No “I’m proud of you.” No “What a great job, dear!” No “You really have a talent.” No “You’re beautiful. Inside and out.” No “I really like the person you’ve become.” No “I’m so glad you’re my daughter.” Nothing. No nurturing, no encouraging, no hugs – unless I initiated and even then that was as an adult – no warmth, no messy displays of affection. The only real emotion evident was her displeasure, her disappointment and her disdain. She always called us “You people.” as if she were outside the realm of family she cooked for, cleaned up after, and lived with every day.
My mother has never told me she loves me.
When I told P what had happened, she offered to drive me to St. Catharine’s – when I was ready. She was on holidays the following week and had the time, so I accepted. I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of seeing my mother alone, but had no idea that P would be the thing that kept me grounded. That she would be my rock. She has rarely played that role in our relationship. She did this time and I am eternally grateful. But, I knew she would start asking questions, again. Her curiosity is normal. I get it. I know how much of a mystery I must seem to her at times. I am the epitome of “still waters run deep”. I just wasn’t sure I was up to answering the same, deeply personal and you-have-no-idea-how-much-these-questions-affect-me kind of questions, in more detail then I had before.
I haven’t shared – I mean really shared – a lot of my past with P. I’ve skimmed over the details with the cliff noted version of my life, enough to let her know where I come from. Teenage parents, abandoned, orphanages, 27 foster homes, runaway teen, incest, violent abuse, rape, prostitution, drugs, all the “usual suspects” that comprised my life before I had even turned 20. Ya, it’s been fun. It may not seem as if my story is unique, but make no mistake. I am.
I haven’t let the past destroy me. I have chosen not to live there. I haven’t lamented on the pain, the anguish, the fear, the rejection, the sense of abandonment, the hurt, the insecurities, the belief that I wasn’t wanted or loved by the woman I’ve called mother for the last 44 years. I haven’t talked in depth about my low self-esteem, my self doubt, my loneliness or the fact that beneath this brilliant smile and seemingly sunny disposition lies a frightened little girl desperate for love and attention. P doesn’t realize how hard it has been for me to pull myself out of the gutter, to wake up smiling and push through the thickness of gloom and depression, to hang on to the edge of my sanity with broken-nailed bloody fingertips, and on oooh so many many occasions, how difficult it was to simply get out of bed and live out another day. It would have been so easy to simply let go. But I didn’t.
The reason for not sharing is two-fold. P loves to analyze. Dig deep into a persons psyche, dredge up all their shit, so that she can figure out what makes them tick. I learned that pretty early on about her and was never truly comfortable with it. But, she openly and honestly left herself, often, in such vulnerable places with me, raw and exposed, hurting and showing me her pain, that I was prompted to share if only to show her that I too had suffered. That I understood. That I empathized with her pain. That she was not alone. Problem is, some things should be left buried and in the dark. Old scars and wounds don’t need to be dug up in order to know another person. The other reason? I have learned that she doesn’t have the type of gentle and nurturing nature required to ‘handle‘ the delicate, fragile threads of my life.
In the early days when she would pick at me under the guise of “wanting to know me better”, I would tell her she should tread softly. She had no idea what she was tampering with. Neither did I for that matter. I warned her that I could very well be the ultimate Pandora’s Box and that she could end up unearthing much more then she ever bargained for. I wasn’t a game. My emotions were not to be wrenched out of me, displayed and picked over, analyzed then trivialized; my experiences lined up, wet and bloody for her to scrutinize, dissect and pull apart to see what I was made of. But, she continued relentlessly until my damaged person lay splattered on the floor, guts spilling out, skin ripped open exposing an irregular beating heart, and I felt broken, afraid and naked.
I’m not sure why she did that to me. And she most assuredly got more then she bargained for. Hence the tumultuous of our relationship. You can’t pry open a damaged human being, peel them inside out, play clumsily with their tightly wound heart strings, and not expect some sort of repercussions. I did try and warn her that the music might not be as pretty as the packaging. She didn’t listen. When I realized that she couldn’t handle the fury of emotions she had unleashed, I reigned them in as best as I could. Stuffed my guts back in, covered up my irregular beating heart and wiped myself up off the floor. I quieted the storm. And I will stay strong and not be that weak and vulnerable again. She wasn’t ready for me. Isn’t ready for me. May never be ready for me. She may never admit to this, but I know the truth.
And the most painful part for me is that in all her pushing and prodding and asking and analyzing and demanding to know, that tightly closed and protective seal has been broken. Demons have been released. And I am left with more confusion, new angers and frustrations, a deeper sense of not belonging anywhere and have more unresolved emotions then ever before.
I don’t appreciate her for that, I must confess.
I was happier in the not feeling…this.