Today is the birthday of the female who gave birth to me. She turns 67 today. I will always feel uncomfortable on this day. It’s a weird feeling to know there is a person out there whom I once shared a body with who not only doesn’t care if i live or die, but who actually gets pleasure from my pain.
As a child, I sensed her snide joy whenever I hurt either from her hand or another’s. I was a wise enough child to try to justify that in my mind and heart. I fully believed that was real love and I accepted to the best of my young and immature ability that when I “grew up”, I’d be able to understand better how that is love no matter how much it didn’t make sense to me at the time. My sick gut feeling I got regularly when this woman was ruthlessly and randomly cruel would be proven wrong the minute I matured enough to understand real love. After all, I was just a child… how could I understand such complex things as even love was supposed to hurt? And hurt bad and hurt regularly? How could I possibly know the right way to love a child? I was just a child myself! One day it would all be crystal clear and the words she occasionally spoke saying I love you would some day make sense even though her actions and behaviors didn’t feel like love to a silly little sensitive child like myself who probably was just extra needy of love and affection because I was just so unlovable and so very difficult to love.
As an adult, it never did make sense. I was 23 and had been in therapy since I first was freed from the mother at 17. After my first year of therapy and telling brutal truths (truths I hadn’t ever admitted even to myself before) about how truly horrible and unlovable I had always been, I will never forget the exact moment my therapist said the words, Do you ever resent your dad for not protecting you from such horrific abuse from your mother?
Immediately, I felt defensive of both my parents and guilty that I had apparently somehow inadvertently misled this woman whom was the first person in my world I’d been brutally upfront and honest about every single bad thing about me, every last little bad deed I had done and even the horrible thoughts of self pity and ingratitude I had felt so often throughout my 20-some years of life at all the love I’d been given even though I didn’t deserve any at all.
What? Abuse??!? No, you don’t understand Dr. Patty! I wasn’t abused. My mother loved me! There was no abuse?? I was not abused. I was a difficult child. I was born really bad and impossible to love. My mother tried really hard to love me and she loved me sometimes in spite of how awful I was born. And my daddy??!?? Ummm… why would my daddy have protected me from being loved by my mother? He loves me too. He wanted me to be loved and to grow up and be a good person. He loves me in spite of being born bad and completely unlovable too!! ABUSED? ME?!?? No! You’ve misunderstood ! Somehow I’ve tried to tell you every awful truth about me and you’ve totally misunderstood, Dr. Patty!!
I couldn’t understand how I had misled Dr. Patty so badly even by being 100% truthful no matter how embarrassing it was to admit what a horrible human being I was. I couldn’t grasp why she wasn’t confirming what I needed her to confirm- how lucky I was to have had a mother who loved me so much even though I certainly had never been worthy of any love at all.
This was why I was investing so much time and effort into therapy!! I was a “grown up” now and I was still sometimes ungrateful and immature enough to not feel like my mother loved me even though she’d said the words to me all my life, why did her actions still seemed senselessly cruel, demeaning, and evil? Those words that proved my intuition and understanding were just twisted and backward. Those beautiful words that proved what a wonderful and amazing mother God had given me… those three words, I love you.
Abused?!? I was not abused! I was lucky and so very loved! And now, I’m an adult and I need to understand that truth . I’ve waited my entire life to understand this is the truth of love. Love hurts . Love feels cruel and sad and very painful , but that is what love is!! Why do I STILL feel in my gut that it’s not love? Why can’t I understand what real love is? How can I be intelligent and still be clearly so immature emotionally that my mind and my heart are still in constant conflict? Why does my mind STILL try to convince me that love shouldn’t hurt when my heart knows my mother painfully loved me !? I was supposed to understand by now that my mother loved me beautifully all my life!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME THAT I STILL DON’T GET IT?
Dr. Patty, that’s just crazy…. I was NOT abused. Why would you even say that to me?
After this infuriating misunderstanding, I skipped my appointments with Dr. Patty for a few weeks. I was so frustrated that I had somehow misled her even by being brutally honest.
It felt like the time I was 14 and went to the optometrist. I answered every question and eye test truthfully and still I somehow “faked that I needed glasses”. I didn’t need glasses. I “just wanted attention because I was a needy, overly sensitive, never-satisfied-with-the-love -I-got-every-single-day kind of impossible and ungrateful child”. I didn’t need glasses, I was just trying to get attention. And ohhhhhhh boy, was my mother pissed at me for lying to the optometrist!! And livid that I had “cheated” on the eye exam and totally “manipulated the doctor” into believing I needed glasses when I didn’t. I was just trying to get more undeserved attention than I already got every day.
And now, I’d cheated and misled my own therapist too! I had to accept that I was so bad and so irreparably broken that I had done it again even though I thought I’d been totally FUCKING honest this time!
I was just fucked. I was hopelessly fucked.
It wasn’t until a few years later when I became a momma myself that I realized Dr. Patty had been so right. There was nothing in the world I could imagine more terrifying and utterly crushing than the sound of my babies crying or hurt or disappointed even. Then, I knew I had been in denial all my life. I had never even known or been able to understand love nor to what degree I would be willing to go to protect my child from hurt and harm until I looked into the sweet blue eyes of my two precious babies.
I knew love. It really wasn’t me!! The woman who gave birth to me had zero comprehension or ability to love outside herself or her bitter resentments or her furious seething anger at simply being forced to look at the light in my soul.
I have understood love all my life. And dammit, I would show my children all the love I could possibly demonstrate.
So happy birthday to the woman who doesn’t acknowledge my existence, who thrives on my miseries, who feels invigorated by my pain and struggles, who can’t tolerate anyone loving me, who doesn’t care if I starve, or if I die, or if I’m beaten or raped… happy birthday to the woman who spent 27 years showing me everything HATE, apathy, anger, injustice,and senseless cruelty is… who demonstrated clearly the fucking opposite of anything love could ever be.
After all, Mommie was really nice to me once when the janitor at my school put his hands inside my panties in the first grade. That was before I was truly bad and slutty and evil though… several years before my Shameful Panties.
Happy birthday, Mommie Dearest. I don’t wish you any ill will. My only wish for you is that all the “love” you showed me will come back to you threefold. You worked hard for that karma. And I want nothing less for you.
Happy birthday from your other, nonexistent child who could never get anything right in her life, who desperately just wanted to love and be loved by you.
Happy birthday to you.
Mommie Dearest, her golden child(my sister), and Mommie Dearest’s 3rd husband: Christmas circa 1992