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 wrong...my 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.....