It’s Thanksgiving of 2017.
I thought I had something important to say.
I really believed I had poignant, important facts, memories, and experiences to share – maybe for my children, maybe for myself, maybe for others suffering, maybe for anyone interested in a cautionary tale life…?
Yet, I get less and less able to express my thoughts, experiences, and emotions with every second that sweeps by.
I begged my daughter to talk to me last week. I’m compelled to tell someone who loved my dad anywhere nearly as much as i loved him, about the weird things around his death. And so my oldest daughter spoke to me for around 17 minutes last week, admitted I didn’t abuse her…then claimed I emotionally abused her because she felt “sometime after her 8th grade year that she couldn’t talk to me anymore”. She said she only told me what I wanted to hear, that we weren’t actually close anymore after sometime around that time frame.
Isn’t that a sign of the age? The teens who typically cease talking to their parents once they’ve reached an age where they don’t believe their parent “gets it” anymore?
I wouldn’t know. I was born into an “everything you say and everything you do will be held against you” home. If I even asked my mom questions about drugs or sex or friendships, even just out of sheer naïveté and curiosity, I’d be severely punished for asking and charged as guilty of something.. anything.. and god help me for the few things I actually did do as a teen- every one was seen as a capital crime and punished so harshly I’d often forget what I’d done long before the punishment was complete.
I didn’t want that for my daughter and I, but I did have to be her parent, not just her friend. Silly me, I tried to be both….
My mind goes back to the hundreds of heart to hearts we had from her 1st grade year to literally the week before this nightmare happened in her 9th grade…
So… those were all false? Just fake stuff she shared with me to “tell me what I wanted to hear? Meanwhile, I had agonized over every word she shared, I hurt over every struggle she expressed, I prayed relentlessly over every piece of advice or suggestion I offered her begging God to steer me right and do and say the perfect thing.
All for words she just made up? To tell me what I wanted to hear?
The overpriced luxurious bed and breakfast spontaneous escape I took her on in 9th grade when her boyfriend broke her heart for the 10th time? And she was beyond devastated.. That was all just what I wanted to hear? All lies??
Cut.. stab…slash… tear it wider…pour the salt in …right into my already gaping wound.
I listened to all of this silently, then took a deep breath and asked her directly, were we ever truly close, Lexi? Do you have a single fond or happy memory of me or our life together at all? When we lived in the house on Roosevelt when you were in the 8th grade and you told me I was your best friend, dedicated songs to me celebrating our close relationship, and we talked by the fireplace almost every single night? Was any of that true, Lexi? Do you recall anything good about me as your momma?
She replied, momma, I have a billion beautiful memories of you and us – from when I was young and hung out with you every day before I started spending more time with my friends…. and I think about those times all the time!!! I even dedicate my yoga practice to you every day!
I was so confused and hurt at this point, I didn’t trust my words or my thoughts even. It seemed like she was saying the entire relationship I thought we’d had was a lie, but only after a certain time frame- specifically the time frame when she started sharing more and spending more time in general with her friends than with me.
But I just couldn’t be sure what the truth was. I was desperately and rapidly (because these conversations are limited and short) trying to process what parts were real, what parts weren’t, and what I could have possibly done to cause that shift. And I was petrified that anything and everything I might say in reply or acknowledgement would be misconstrued or twisted around as yet another excuse to hang up on me and immediately shun me.
Here I am again in this all too familiar massive black hole of agony and confusion, desperate for love, desperate to know what I’ve done wrong, desperate to fix it! And I no longer trust my words, my thoughts, or my memories.
Gosh, this is remarkably and precisely like being in a relationship with a narcissist… uncanny similarities!
How could I have known?
Then, she said she loved me, wanted a relationship with me, and that she didn’t care if I believed that or not because she’d forgiven herself.
I’ve never been given the opportunity to forgive her though. The only apology I’ve gotten was screamed hatefully to me with no admission of what the apology was even for…no discussion on what had even happened at all… and screamed as she simultaneously bawled hysterically for “how mean she’d been to her dad” after he intentionally, maliciously, and deceitfully stole our home…
Meanwhile (back in our brief conversation), I was still trying to wrap my head around the “couldn’t talk openly to me anymore after 8th grade (ish)” statement…wracking my brain as to what I did.
As soon as she gave me the chance to speak at all, I seized the opportunity to admit and apologize for a regret I have from once when she (in around the 8th grade) bravely came to me with something about having sex for the first time with her on- again-off-again boyfriend at the time. I could barely stop crying enough to tell her how I wish I’d handled that better. I told her how brave and honest she had been to trust to come to her momma with that important and personal issue. I told her the truth. I didn’t handle it well because I was scared for her – scared out of my ever loving mind that she was contemplating having sex for the 1st time for all the wrong reasons, with a boy who was emotionally abusive and controlling, perhaps to keep him rather than because she was really ready for such a step.
I had wanted better for her than desperation.
I had been petrified for her. And I wish with all my heart I’d handled it better. I didn’t punish her or yell at her for coming to me with this. She wasn’t grounded or punished for sharing with me. I just tried to imply that she might not be ready..that she might not be doing it for the right reasons..that she might regret something that could never be taken back or undone. It’s entirely possible that in my panic mode, I suggested these things in a passive-aggressive way rather than directly. I wasn’t scared of Lexi back then like I a now, but I was scared that if I wasn’t careful in my choice of words and tone that she’d not trust me. I was definitely scared that if I was too direct she might regret coming to me and stop feeling she could trust me. And I was desperate to give solid parenting advice and action, while desperate to maintain her trust, so I went the round-about way of suggesting maybe she wasn’t ready…maybe she was doing this for the wrong reasons.
And I regret that.
I didn’t handle it anywhere nearly as well as I wish I had. I ache with regret over that. I was so deeply proud of her courage and trust to come to me. So proud that I’d obviously created a trusting relationship with my daughter in spite of the fact that I’d never had one with my mother. And I wish I’d spent more time telling her that than being scared…but I didn’t. Fear and panic had taken over in that moment.
That said (and I could write a novel on that alone), I have to wonder when did wanting so desperately to be a perfect parent, wanting them to trust you yet still be the wise, intelligent voice of parenting reason, wanting so desperately to be so fucking perfect for your child that you try to create the utter trust of your child to come to you with anything…and desperately try not to lose that trust.
All the things my mother never even bothered to try. She didn’t care if she was a “safe place” to come in raw honesty to. She also didn’t care about my personal struggles or the hardships of being a teenager. Those were either too ridiculous and childish for her to bother with or they were just another reason to proactively punish me to take me freedom to even make mistakes at all away before I could ever make them. If I’d come to my mother with such a thing, I’d have not seen the light of day until I was 18, much less seen any boys, friends, or had a boyfriend at all. Every time I attempted to go to my mother with any choice I struggled with, her immediate reaction was to take away my freedom to choose at all.
After I pondered this for the next few days after our conversation that day, I wondered when exactly did it become “emotional abuse” to want so fucking much to be the perfect momma and not know how? But to tear yourself apart trying to be both trusted friend and wise single parent? WHEN DID THAT BECOME “ABUSE” FOR FUCKS SAKE?
My oldest child actually believes she “had a childhood like mine”. She actually said those exact words. That’s how truly clueless she is of abuse – either physical or emotional.
She has (well, had?) a terribly imperfect, wounded, fiercely abused momma who desperately wanted her daughter to have perfection in a parent, who agonized over every parental choice, who struggled to deny her child anything, who lived to see her daughter smile, who studied parenting books, sought the advice of friends and professionals to learn, who never once laid a hand on her in anger, who took her side even when she was wrong, who took her childhood struggles seriously, who wanted her to be as beautiful, successful, and confident as any human being could possibly be, who admitted and apologized when she was wrong and then tried to do better, who protected her with every ounce of strength she had, who encouraged her individuality, who encouraged her friendships and her romances, who did everything she knew to make her feel safe and loved and protected and encouraged and adored…
She has/had…a momma who “abused” her?!?
Seems to me that my biggest faults are imperfection…and trying so fucking hard to be what I never had. Since, I loved and begged my mother for love until the age of 24 (when ironically, I stopped begging because I was then a mother who didn’t want her children to see her beg for love).
But because sometimes she was “afraid to tell me personal stuff after the age of 14 -15”, she considers herself “abused”.
I guess mothers who don’t try to be a safe place aren’t abusive because they weren’t setting that standard to begin with.
But mostly what I fully accepted after this conversation was that nothing I ever say will matter to her. She doesn’t want to hear my experiences, She doesn’t want to know the truth of anything about me or my life because it might “affect her relationship” with my abusers – her dad and my mother.
To the extent that she doesn’t even care to hear about the strange and inexplicable lies surrounding her Papa’s death. And if the truth of her Papa (whom she adamantly, repeatedly says “HE WAS MY DAD TOO!”) doesn’t even matter to her, then I realize literally nothing about me or my life ever will matter to her.
There aren’t words for when your own child whom you gave everything for, is very interested in lies abusers tell to use them against her momma, but has no interest in the truths of her mommas life because her relationship with the very people who destroyed her momma is that important, while her relationship with her own mother is entirely disposable.
Nothing I’ve experienced matters. I’m just the ragdoll beaten about and tossed aside because I’m not pretty anymore – and the raw truth of my life isn’t at all pleasant or pretty – but it’s important to keep her relationship with everyone except me beautiful, so those experiences are irrelevant…to the child who used lies about those very things to help those very people finish off my complete and final ultimate destruction.
What they said, to lie about me was important enough to throw her momma away for 5 years and still going…but she won’t hear a single thing that really did happen to me – what they actually have done to me, and subsequently, to her… Because she doesn’t want to think badly of those people. She can only handle and embrace believing bad things about her momma.
Not even what they did to her Papa. Nothing that’s ever happened to me matters, unless it could be used to destroy me. Nothing they did to my dad matters either. Funny, I had no interest whatsoever in ever telling my children or anyone else my whole story until my mother, my ex, and my children used horribly twisted truths and blatant lies to crucify every single thing about me, my life, and my character. It never mattered to me to tell every sordid detail until those people and my children chose to bury me alive in false accusations and hideous lies and rip from my life the only fucking thing that I had left that did matter to me…literally smash to pieces the only thing I ever felt confident that I did well in my entire life!!
But once they buried me in all that for five straight years, suddenly none of that is open for discussion. And I’m a DISGUSTING PERSON (according to Lexi, my oldest child) to even want the truth to be known, or discussed… I’m pathetic to even beg for all the truth to be told- all of it – not just the best parts, not just the bad parts, not even just the parts where I was wronged… all of it.
If you destroy someone with lies and cruelly punish them for 5 years straight based on those lies without trial or mercy or an ounce of compassion, then you don’t get to just shut down the entire narrative forever because you feel satisfied with the lies…. because YOU’RE at peace with all the lies you embraced and then used to destroy and shred another human being.
I imagine this is how an innocent person charged with a heinous crime might feel if they went to trial and weren’t allowed to speak at all. The jury listens to the prosecution, then… trial over. That’s all we need to hear folks. Testimony and evidence closed. Jury, make your decision now!
Likewise, maybe how a victim of a crime would feel if they weren’t allowed to speak in a trial but only their perpetrator was permitted to testify. Then the jury makes their decision based only on what the perpetrator says happened.. because if the victim speaks a word of the events, he/she is just “bad mouthing” the perpetrator and WE CAN’T ALLOW THAT “NEGATIVITY” TO INFLUENCE HOW WE FEEL ABOUT THE PERPETRATOR!
So, you.. over there with the cuts and bruises and the chronic PTSD flashbacks from hell, you just shut up! We, the judge and jury won’t accept your evidence, your experiences, your memories, your facts, or your feelings! WE REFUSE ADMISSION OF YOUR BITTER NEGATIVITY INTO OUR VERDICT! We WILL NOT PERMIT that trifling nonsense in this trial!
The heart and mind just don’t work that way- at least, my tortured, beaten down, PTSD ridden soul doesn’t work that way.
What I learned and unequivocally realized from this conversation was that mothers who don’t care if their child feels loved, is struggling, is hurting, feels safe to talk… are vitally important to granddaughters who treat their own mother and her every lifelong efforts to be a good mother like a useless commodity – the very mother who imperfectly tried to be everything but that is considered “abusive” and expendable.
I shouldn’t have even tried to be better than my mother. She thinks that was her life anyway..
If I hadn’t tried so hard, maybe she’d have turned out just like me – desperate for her mother’s love, instead of willing and eager to throw her mother away. Seems my mother clearly had it right. As did my “my way or the highway” abusive, pedophile, cheating ex. Abuse, deny, restrict,never apologize, never admit being wrong …abuse harder, deny more, restrict further, never apologize, never admit being wrong…etc, etc..etc..
After everything I overcame in my life- before and during my time as a parent, I’m the one who tried to give her everything…far beyond myself..far beyond my experiences, my knowledge, my limits, my understanding even. My jobs, where we lived, my friends, my boyfriends and dating were 95% based on what I thought would be best for her life, rarely did I make any decisions without first filtering it through what was best for her. I may not have always made the perfect choices even then because I truly didn’t always know what was best, but I always thought of that first. My ex didn’t do that. My mother surely never once did that for me and certainly not or for her. They always out themselves and their happiness before anyone else. I valued her feelings and her life so far beyond my own and, therefore, and in her opinion, I’m also the only one who got it completely wrong….
(Irony so sharp and cunning, it slices you open and dumps a gallon of lemon juice right in the cuts…then laughs while you struggle and flail about.)
I shouldn’t have even tried.
Nothing of myself, my life, my experiences, my hard-earned knowledge, victories or defeats are of any import in this world.
And it’s Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving 2017.
FIVE STRAIGHT YEARS OF HELL.
So, I’ve become acutely aware of the futility of my very existence – in its utter entirety.
There’s just nothing left to say when you finally see that nothing you have to say..nothing that happened to you..nothing you know..nothing you learned… is of any import anyway.
Everything happens for a reason she says to me – to the very person she treats like nothing about me, past, present, or future matters.
It’s frustrating to have so much to say and know it doesn’t even matter.
Nothing of my existence has mattered,,,,,
But at least everything that’s happened to me has all happened for a reason….right?
A mother who never loved me.
Physical, mental, emotional, and sexual child abuse.
2 teenage rapes.
2 violently abusive relationships.
A mother who says, Give it a year…you must like the abuse, when her 19 year old daughter begs to come home because her boyfriend has threatened her with a gun.
A mother who doesn’t care if her pregnant college student daughter has eaten in a two weeks.
Getting spit on when you’re nursing an infant because your boyfriend couldn’t keep his penis in his pants.
A massive stroke with a toddler at home when you’re a single mom…and they say you’ll never walk again.
My mother coming to the ICU where I’m literally near death and telling me, “you deserve what you fucking get”.
Being raped at gunpoint in a baseball field one block away from your 2 beautiful toddler daughters.
My ex stealing the home I was paying for and leaving me and my 2 kids homeless because I refused to allow him to emotionally belittle and abuse our youngest child.
My daddy dying and my mother and my ex using that time of total vulnerability to pounce and destroy me.
My children throwing me away like trash because the very people who made my entire life a chronic fierce struggle for self-esteem and respect and basic consideration told them I was worthless. So, it must be true. Right?
Yeah, Lexi….everything definitely happens for a reason.
It’s almost Thanksgiving 2017.
And I fully accept that I now know that which I didn’t ever want to accept as true before. The very thing I’ve fought all my life against accepting:
I’ve nothing of import or value to add to this world.