Yesterday I wrote. My head was bugging me so I said okay, try and write you bastard, and to hell with the pool and swimming. Figured I may do 20 minutes and then pull back.
I didn’t stop for two hours. And when I did finally stop, I felt shaky and sick.
I was trying to write about my early years. Trying to explore that abuse by my mother. I began with ‘my mother’ and that wasn’t right. I tried ‘my mom’, which was better but still didn’t give me the flow.
Then I typed in ‘Mommy’, and it came flooding out.
First lesson: Mommy could, and did, hurt. The girl always hoped Mommy wouldn’t hurt. She always hoped Mommy would be the Mommy she loved; the one who hugged her and kissed her and told her it would be alright. But there was that other Mommy. She came unexpectedly. Odd times of the day or night. And she brought pain with her.
There it was. I remember now. I didn’t have the words back then. Now I do. And the child that was me felt my mother had split personalities. She was the perfect example of a loving mother in public. In private, just the two of us (and oh! how she managed to spend so much time with just the two of us I’ll never quite figure out), she could be ‘Mean Mommy’. I thought that way for all of my early years. Later on, as I grew, these irreconcilable mommies would merge and become one and the same person to me. But in those very early years, they were two separate individuals.
Who would Mommy be today? Nice Mommy or Mean Mommy? Mean Mommy was good at hiding. You never knew when she was around. Not until her mouth clamped down, or she hurt.
I confronted the repeated abuse:
Mommy didn’t promise the pain would stop. And it didn’t. It seemed to go on and on. And when she finally stopped hurting the girl, it was only for a little while. The pain would come back, another day. Again, the girl would beg for it to stop. Again she would be told it was for her own good, that it must be done, and the scrubbing or pinching would continue and continue until the girl felt she must be bleeding from a thousand wounds.
To say I feel unhinged would be an understatement. I’ve been wondering if I really have cracked, if I truly do have my feet on the path marked ‘INSANITY’. The entire world has shifted under my feet.
But those remembered feelings are true.
I’m clinging to that.
I found my fear of my mother:
The girl said nothing. Mommy was known. Mommy was popular. Mommy was important.
Most of all, Mommy was powerful.
Never say anything. I must have, once. Sometime. Because I learned to be so very afraid of saying it ever again. I was afraid of my mother’s retribution, exacted when we were alone. My mind quakes just thinking of it.
The child in me also brought up another point, one that really makes me wonder now that I’m an adult:
Her brains could ensure she was slave to no man, ever. That was the worst thing in all the world, and Mommy was going to make sure it never happened if it was the last thing she did.
This coming from a woman who put her husband before her children.
The ironic thing is, of course, that my mother trained me to be a doormat so I was prime territory for abusive men.
And my grandmother (my mother’s mother) was infamous in the family for the following statement: “Men have a place on this Earth. It’s six feet under.”
What happened? I’ll never know now. All the relevant characters in this story are dead long ago. But it makes me think my grandmother and mother had an awful lot of hate towards men, despite their ‘happy’ and long-lived marriages. Men weren’t partners. They were necessary combatants in daily life. Women had to work extra hard – get up early and go to bed late – to keep men in their place.
Yet men were everything. Number one. Daddy came first, work a close second, bills/friends/phone third, house fourth, savings/investments fifth, and somewhere bringing up the rear were children.
Every child wants to feel special to their parent, but my dad and I did have a special bond. I was the only child of natural birth; my siblings had to have medical intervention to even be conceived. I was the ‘gift’. I was also the only one to carry my dad’s coloring and dimples.
I do not have any memories of my father playing with my siblings the way he played with me. Then again, I have no memories of my siblings wanting to spend time with my dad. I was the one he tickled, I was the one he taught football and baseball to, I was the one who had full rights to climb up on his lap and fall asleep listening to his heartbeat.
Dad was safe. My mother wasn’t.
The little girl remembered a bed time thing, a game my dad played with me. My mother was drawn into the game because she had to be; they’s swing me by my hands and feet and gently toss me onto my bed. Then Dad would tickle me and kiss me and tuck me in. As I was there, in that memory, I saw my mother. Looking on from the doorway, her part in the game done. She had that look I call ‘Mean Mommy’ about her. She didn’t like that Dad and I played, that we shared something she wasn’t involved in.
My mother was jealous of me.
When I was four, or five.
…Things being the way they are, I’ve tried looking up idea on how to deal with this. Half the time I’m telling myself I’m going off the deep end, my memory is screwed up, none of this happened. The other half I feel sick and afraid. For now, I’m trying to let it just be. I want to write more, but I’m going to wait awhile. The memories I’ve been unlocking have shocked me deeply. And it’s lonely to think I still don’t feel safe talking about it.
But I am here. I have survived what was done to me.
Now I just need to forgive myself.