If you were to ask her, she’d tell the story this way:
“You were sleeping in your crib, and Daddy was napping on the couch while I was cooking. All of a sudden, the stove went up in flames and I ran out of the house, leaving you and your father. Isn’t that funny?”
No, Mom, that’s actually not funny.
It was the first in a series of “stories” that left me wondering if my mother was actually insane. My father, and his two kids, moved in with my mother around the same time she became pregnant with me. He was a good man; an honorable one. He wasn’t perfect, though.
Dad grew up with a very ill mother who suffered with multiple sclerosis, a mother who also had a rage that couldn’t be softened. She was bed ridden and probably angry and bitter. He thought the world of her.
I can’t help but think because he grew up with this emotional abuse, he thought it to be normal for my mother to act this way as well. But it’s not normal, and to be fair to my father, I’m only realizing it now, 34 years later.
Dad worked two jobs to support his five person family; teaching during the day and working retail at night. Once, his retail co-workers begged him to come to their Christmas party, and though my dad tried explaining how he had children at home and was exhausted from working two jobs, he caved.
My mother wasn’t happy. She didn’t want him to go. When he came home from the party, he collapsed in bed (he hadn’t had anything to drink, but the near 18-hour day had beaten him). My mother then placed a newborn me, with a diaper FILLED with poop, on my father’s sleeping head.
Who does that? Not only to spite the man they supposedly loved but to leave your child in filth for hours? My mother did.
Of course, there are several years between my birth and my first memories, so I can’t recall everything that happened. Some things, like the story above, were passed down as “fun” family stories.
There are some stories I DO remember, and they’ve had lasting effects.
One day after school, I was incredibly tired (I was a very sick kid) and closed my eyes on the couch. I wrapped my arm around my eyes to block the sun coming in. My mother grabbed my hand, sucked my thumb, and laughed.
No, Mom, that’s not funny.
That particular incident haunts me today and actually affects my relationships — trust, boundaries, you get it.
From the age of about 6, I was forced to massage her back. She would make me sit on her tail bone and use my baby hands to give what I now know as a deep tissue massage; she would moan in pleasure, sounds that still ring in my ear today, sounds of an orgasm. If I asked not to do it, she would offer toys, something any kid usually can’t refuse.
At around age 8, I started wetting the bed because of what I now know to be emotional trauma. She insisted on putting diapers on me like I was a baby, wiping me, violating me.
As I got older I desperately tried to keep her away while still maintaining a relationship with my father, which was tough. I minimized the contact she had with my son, and never allowed her alone with him.
I felt guilty for pushing her away; I felt hurt for everything she’s done to me; I felt sorry for my father who had to deal with her. The harder I tried to remove her, the harder she pushed my buttons with threats and lies.
When my dad was sick in the hospital, she refused to give any of his children information.
“You are making us [me and my siblings] miserable!” I texted her.
“That makes me happy.” She wrote back.
“Making us miserable makes you happy?”
What kind of person says that?
My mother did.
I swore to cut her out of my life, but then something happened that froze me, melted me, and allowed her back in.
My father died, and she had nowhere to go. She had already burned bridges with my half-siblings and her own family hated her. I made the incomprehensible mistake of letting her live with my family. I knew who she was, but thought maybe she had changed.
I couldn’t sleep at night knowing that my saint of a father would have wanted me to care for her, so I did. I tried. I wondered if maybe my father’s death was a blow to her reality and she’d be the mom I always wanted and needed?
But she wasn’t.
Her presence nearly destroyed my marriage. She constantly criticized my parenting and made me feel as though my job as a writer was meaningless.
“I wish I could have an easy job like yours,” she said one day.
She was the little person in my ear, constantly telling me how horrible I am, at EVERYTHING.
I needed her out of my life.
When I explained to her that my husband and I were separating, she told him that she would help him get custody of our son. Why? Because according to her I slept all day and did nothing. I worked 10 AM — 6 PM Monday thru Friday — sleeping was not my job.
It was my birthday and I stayed at a hotel to get away from the tension. My husband and son were out running errands, so I texted her. I was afraid of her wrath; 34 years later and still afraid of her. She first said, “No. I’m not leaving. I’ll die.” She wouldn’t die, but it was just another move in the game of her life.
After what felt like a decade, but in reality was probably the hardest 24 hours of constant back and forth, she willingly left. Though if I had to bet on it, I’d say she thinks this will blow over, which it won’t.
I will never allow myself to fall victim to her ways again.
She’s a malignant narcissist. I looked it up, and unfortunately, she fits the bill perfectly. I’m in the process of legally separating myself from her (trustee, banks, etc.).
Recently, I fell into some trouble. She texted me a picture of my father, dead, with “lol u like it — he hates you lol” I collapsed where I stood, shaking and in tears. She had been scheduled to come to our home to pack the rest of her stuff that weekend. I couldn’t allow her back in, if even for a few hours.
But I was broke.
They say that if you have ‘online friends’, and not ‘in real life’ friends, that you’re a loser. Well, I found out this week that I’m a winner.
I never thought I’d have to use a GoFundMe, but I was desperate. I needed her out. I found movers that would come the next day and ship all her stuff to her. Within a few hours, I had made $125 over my intended goal; mostly from people I haven’t seen in over 10 years OR people I haven’t even met.
These are my people. This is my new family. If you’re reading this, you know who you are. If you didn’t donate, but texted or messaged me with support, I’m talking to YOU, too! I’ve never been so grateful.
I finally have this abusive, toxic person out of my life, and have found a group of wonderful people to call family. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!