Monday, September 5, 2011

It's Not Your Mama's Fault-Part 1

I never fully forgave my mother until after she passed away. I guess it happens that way sometimes. I had made attempts to forgive her and had told her she was forgiven but the pain and the scars ran deep and would resurface at the most inopportune times. The thing is...I had wanted to forgive her for a long time for both of our sake. I wanted to move on and forget and to have some semblance of a healthy relationship on an adult level. I wanted her to know her grandchildren. I wanted to love her and to be loved in return. The thing is, she just made it so hard.

Let me go back a little so I can catch you up. If you are a regular reader, you know my mom had a mental illness that held her fast with an iron grip. She was such a mess of contradictions. Stunningly beautiful but painfully insecure. Creative and talented but unmotivated and uninspired. Witty and mischievous but apathetic and bitingly sarcastic. Accepting and loving of others but easily irritated and annoyed by her own children. She was vigorously loving life one minute and then suicidal and despondent the next. She was relentlessly demanding of those closest to her but generous to a fault with strangers. She openly admitted to being resentful of the shackles of motherhood and told me quite often that she wished I would just 'disappear.'

Don't get me mother was a really unique and special woman. She truly and deeply loved me. That I know with absolute certainty. There weren't many things she couldn't do well. We had a lot of laughs and special moments that were ours alone. When we got together sometimes we could trade witty repartee that would leave us both joyfully weak with laughter. In a way, I think that was a blessing and a curse. If she had been hard and hateful and dismissive all of the time, it would have made her rejection less agonizing. I so desperately wanted my sparkling, witty, beautiful loving and affectionate mother all the time. Unfortunately that version of her was a fleeting visitation from what sometimes seemed to be a phantom figment of my imagination. Her illness was in control more often than not. She failed me in the most painful way imaginable. She chose to look the other way as my stepfather serially abused her little girls. She did not do what mothers have been created to do since the beginning of time: Simply, she failed to protect me. Epic fail.

When I was sixteen, my mother had since divorced my step dad, my sisters were grown and I was alone in the house with my mom. She was drinking way too much and was on some pretty heavy duty medications. She was trying to hold down a job as a secretary to the president of a bank. She was overwhelmed. She was not herself. She became unreasonable and violent and completely uninterested in being a mother anymore. How do I know this? Because she told me so quite often. I became rebellious and angry. I was scared to be alone with her and my schoolwork became completely unimportant to me as my home life was such a distraction. I was so ashamed of my situation. I began spinning tall tales to my friends to try to make my life seem normal or even glamorous. My school counselor actually suggested  to my mother that she should release me as an emancipated minor so that I could be free to make my own decisions for my life and could live full time with a friend and her parents. This made her furious, as she felt I had betrayed her by going to the counselor for help. A few nights later my mother was not in her right mind and after an argument, she handed me a $20 bill, pushed me out the front door in the dark of night, and instructed me to leave and never come back. Scared, angry, and heartbroken for the millionth time by her rejection I walked in the dark a few miles down a deserted country road and made it to a convenience store with a pay phone. I called my friend's mother to come and rescue me and thus ended the last day under the oppressive jurisdiction of my mother. I had imagined when that day came, I would feel liberated. I was not relieved. Just alone and broken.

Weeks later, without even speaking to me, my mother signed the papers and I was officially made an emancipated minor. I had no idea of the implications of that except that my mom was no longer responsible for me in any way. I was adrift with no rudder and headed for the rocks. I'd like to tell you that someone swooped in to save me but that was not to be. I ended up smashing into the rocks into a thousand pieces. It would take me many years of bad (and some good) choices, failed relationships, some seriously hard knocks, and a burning desire and determination to succeed and overcome plus the incredible power of the love of God to put this broken little girl back together again.

Reading this back to myself reminds me just what an absolute walking miracle I am. I also want to point out that I am nobody's victim and am not looking for sympathy here. Mine is a tale of victory. There is just a huge lesson to be learned by the telling of this story. I'll get around to that in my next post because I don't want to overwhelm you all at once so for now I'll just say:

To be continued.....



  1. Gripping. I can relate in so many ways. I lived in a broken home with sister suffering from mental illness. My life, like yours is a triumph over tragedy and hardship. Makes me fully appreciate my life today. I praise God for all he has done to turn my life around.

    I can't wait to read the next part.

    Julie from Just Jules

  2. Cat,
    You're definitely a walking miracle and a huge inspiration to me:)


  3. Cat,
    I've only one thing to say...there's a ministry in there and when you find it God will have used your life to help so many...never stop! Revelation 12:11

    Emancipated...I remember that word too.

  4. Julie, Growing up with a family member with a mental illness is so difficult. I'm so amazing how God can use anything...and I mean ANYTHING and use it for our good. Thanks for stopping by, fellow blogger!

    Pam, You inspire me, too.

    Keven, Your comment gave me cold chills. I am just in the beginning stages of putting together a ministry that I believe was born out of a desire to ensure that all mothers have a place to go when things get to be too difficult to handle on their own. God is faithful to complete the work he began in me all those years ago. I can't wait to see what He is going to do!


  5. Cat,

    Wow, I would really have no idea that such thing happened to your teenage just by basing on how incredible you are... I really hope that all teens experiencing the things that happened to you may also find their light... I have a classmate that is working as a maid to support her education. The place where she works in are filled with people that make her life harder. I sometimes find her crying in a corner saying that she can't take her situation anymore but Thanks to God she still doesn't lose her grip. We are on our last year of studying Bachelor of Science in Nursing and I hope that she'll be able to finish it with us. May you please include her in your prayers? Thanks, and GOD BLESS!

    I'm really looking forward to the next part!
    Starting to LOVE your blogs.


  6. Wow Cat...gripping indeed! Thanks so much for sharing. Like Keven said, there's definitely ministry here and I'm excited to see how God will use you as you continue to pursue and fulfill His purpose in your life. Can't wait for the next part!

  7. Cat, God bless you & your family. When we share our trials & our victories in Christ, it lets others know they are not alone.

    Since my deeper walk with the Lord, I don't have the closest relationship with my mom. But I know only God can heal the issues of my heart. There is hope in the Lord. All praise & glory to our King in Heaven!

  8. Jomar,

    I will be praying for you and your fellow students. During times of trial I try to remember that iron sharpens iron and I will come through difficult times with more faith, more wisdom, and more strength in Christ. We were never promised a life free of trouble, only that Jesus would be there every step of the way to shine His light of love, guiding us out of the dark places. Be encouraged and be an encourager of your friend. Be blessed.


  9. Hey Cat - Gripped by the 1st part and about to read part 2. The more I learn of you, the more I realize that God placed us together for reasons so much bigger than ourselves. Can't explain that much here, but let's just say...we need to talk! And I love you so much :0) Your life is a testament to God's transforming power! ~Amy Hudak


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