After a staggering eight years of regular therapy, you move on from the misery of analyzing your late, abusive husband and you start to explore other areas of your life.
For quite a long time, until I was into my 40s, I always believed what my mother and her family told me: I was bad, a terrible person, made wrong choices, a failure at everything I did and that I was a terrible disappointment. Sometimes these phrases were implicitly stated, other times implied but concise in their intent. I was openly mocked, talked about, laughed at and I responded in kind with atrocious behavior and countless attempts to escape. I rebelled openly, smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, running around until all hours and partying like it was 1999 while still clearly in the 1980s. For each insult and another stack of unworthiness added to my heavy pile, I retaliated with wild, uninhibited actions and deeds that left everyone’s head spinning. I grew up feeling alone, devoid of love, yet curiously coddled in a materialistic way. Somehow I guess I never realized how it was shaping me for a desperate attempt at finding love, even by making horrible choices.
My mother had horrendous OCD before it became a household acronym. My father shared in her fearless approach to having the perfect home, even though I was there to continually ruin it somehow. I was not the type of child who followed the rules. I was impulsive, made rash decisions and strayed far from the beaten path. For someone like my mother, who craved predictability and repeated perfection, there was no other outcome for us except the clash of the titans. From the outside looking in, my parents were amazing human beings and in some ways, they could be. I NEVER wanted for anything, that much I can say. I had the jeans with the name of the day that all the girls wanted. We stayed away for a week on vacation. We went many places, enjoyed delicious home-cooked meals and had everything a childhood needed. I had a nice bike, a beautiful room, a pool in my backyard, all the toys I could ever play with, yet I was miserable and emotionally empty.
Years later, I would often drift into periods of silence and solitude. Anyone who knows me is like, “yeah, sure, she stopped talking. OK.” This was no joke though. Sometimes I would like awake at night, questioning my terrible choices in life partners, or why I never had close, rich friendships and good times to enjoy. I was never satisfied with jobs, friends, THINGS…It wasn’t until I finally got into therapy after the twisted nightmare of my marriage and his death that I started to scratch just the very surface of it all.
Some might say it’s easy to place all the blame on an absent mother when she is not here to defend herself and they might be right. However, there is not one time up until the time of her death that my mother ever told me she loved me. The words never came from her. Gifts, toys, clothes, vacations, meals, things, things, things…were always there. When I had to sew my clothes while I was married to my late husband because I was not given the money to buy new clothes or go to the thrift store to find them, I never saw it back then. When I ate and ate until I was sick with diabetes and feeling horrible every day, I never saw it…the emptiness of not feeling loved.
Being in my room as a child and hearing her on the phone, telling people what a nightmare I was and how she was so sick of my behavior or talking to people there, including my family. I used to think I was imagining it until she was near the end. I was sitting home one day just going about my day when the phone rang. It was my father. He asked if I was busy and that my mother wanted to talk to me. I dropped everything, threw on clothes and made a beeline for her. After all this time, I was desperate to hear something; I knew the end was close. I walked into her room and she asked me to bring over her jewelry box. *sigh* She wanted me to pick out some “things” and she knew I wasn’t much for jewelry, but she wanted me to have something. I wasn’t a fan of her style, but I picked out a few things to satisfy her. The box still sits in my jewelry stand, untouched. I cried a bit and told her how sorry I was for all the things I did in my youth. She told me there was nothing to forgive and I just sat there, miserable with all the pieces of jewelry in my hands.
The Christmas Eve before she passed away, she had a party at the house in which I sit. All her sisters were there and their spouses, and even my sister was there. I was not invited. I’ve gotten over it somewhat, but I still have the Fabrege’ looking egg she gave out to everyone. Mine was given the day after, with no explanation why I wasn’t invited. I still have the pictures from that party in an album she had here, everyone happy and smiling and enjoying themselves, while I sat home alone. When I got home, I opened the egg and inside was a tiny scroll. It said, “I will always love you.” Three months later, it was over.
The day I got the call that she was gone, my late husband wouldn’t come home from work early so I could get there. His parents made sure to remind me that “people die and that’s just how it is” and I missed being there when everyone arrived. When I could finally get in the car and drive up to meet my oldest daughter, my mom was gone already. On the drive up, a song came on the radio. To this day, it’s difficult for me to listen to it. I’m not sure if it just reminds me of that terrible drive, or if I wished that someone had loved me like this song makes me feel. I guess I need to say I’m not looking for pity or for anyone to feel sad for me, just if you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not alone.