Alone in her mother’s house, she wandered the silent, lifeless rooms, looking for remnants of something she knew she would never find, as it had never actually existed. Yet, she still searched diligently for some secret token, some magical whisper, some buried acknowledgement that what she had always foolishly longed for and sought out just might have had even the slightest basis in reality. Unsurprisingly, in the end, she left empty-handed one last time.
We are all well.
Imagine our surprise,
when our poor mother
was sent off
with bad news,
and never came back
for the truth…
(“rewritten” using bits and pieces of prose from the novel itself)
Mother’s Day always creates such a barrage of mixed emotions for me. There was a lot of trauma, abuse, mental illness, and foolish decisions that marked my childhood. My mother was far from a perfect parent. Luckily, she does admit to that and seems to be really trying to be a better person now, but being around her always triggers so many memories, thoughts, and feelings – some good, some bad, some funny, and some tragic.
I think part of the issue is that my brain has a tough time seeing how she acts towards me now and reconciling it with memories of how my sister and I were treated while growing up. I do believe in forgiveness (within reason), and I do love my mother, but I doubt there will ever be a day in her company that doesn’t create confusion for me internally.
I write this post today to recognize those of us who struggle on Mother’s Day to even know how to feel…
She could never let me sleep.
That would put us
on equal footing
and allow me
to be fully awake
she would sneak into my room,
shake me awake
and cry loud, calculated tears
while I practiced
hiding my true feelings
and tried my hardest
to become a limp, gray rock
held barely out of reach.
Last night I was thinking about my history of abuse and how I grew up seeing so much of it. As far as physical abuse goes, I did endure some growing up, but it was much more common for me to see someone else physically abused in my family. There was a “scapegoat” in our family who seemed to be the target of much of the worst of the abuse.
Thinking back, I remember how when this abuse would happen, I would scuttle into the corner or hide in a nearby alcove, but I never tried to actually leave the room. Common sense would seem to dictate that when violence is happening, you would want to get as far away from it as you can, but I didn’t even try.
I questioned myself last night why this was so. I came up with several possibilities. First, perhaps I was afraid to leave the room because I thought it would draw further attention to me. My main goal when violence would erupt was to try to become invisible. Sometimes the rage would boil over and the physical and verbal abuse would extend to me if I happened to get caught in the crossfire, so I naturally tried to fade into the shadows. Sometimes, early on, I would try to distract and please the abuser in hopes of calming them down, but that never really worked.
Another reason I think I stayed to watch was because deep down I feared for the safety of the scapegoat and I wanted to make sure they didn’t die. There may have been some morbid curiosity tossed in there too, the way that human nature makes us crane our necks to see what happened when driving by a car crash.
Lastly, I think I stayed and risked my own safety because I felt responsible for trying to make peace after the explosion. I hated to see the division in my family and the anger and pain created by these confrontations. After the worst of it was over, I would often go to the victim and try to comfort them, and then I would even go to the abuser and try to comfort them. I would try to mend the rift between them, although obviously looking back with adult eyes, I see the utter futility of my efforts and sometimes feel anger that I felt responsible to hold the family together in the first place, as I was so little at the time (elementary school age).
Although I am an agnostic when it comes to the actual physical existence of any kind of God or divine power, I am drawn to pagan spirituality. I love their connection to the earth, seasons, and the cycles of nature. I also happen to love mythology, whether it be classic Greek/Roman, Egyptian, Native American, Eastern, Celtic, Norse, or whatever else there happens to be. I’m not sure if I could believe in the Gods/Goddesses of these belief systems as actual living beings, but I can certainly believe in the archetypes and types of universal energy they represent and the various facets of humanity they project.
Greek mythology is my favorite pantheon and has several Gods/Goddesses I adore. Hades will always be a favorite, as the cool ruler of the underworld. His wife Persephone is right up there as well. Athena is brilliant, and Hecate is dark and mysterious – two things I adore! But my favorite Goddess has to be Artemis (Diana in Roman mythology).
I always loved how Artemis was tough and tomboyish. She determined from her youth that she didn’t need no man! She could take care of herself and find happiness with her nymph friends and beloved animals. The other day I came across a bit of knowledge on GoddessGift.com I didn’t know about Artemis though, which made me love her even more:
“Artemis’ mother, Leto, gave birth to Artemis after a short and painless labor. But then Leto’s labor continued, with her contractions growing weak and painful. Moved to compassion, the infant goddess Artemis, born only a few minutes earlier, became her mother’s midwife and delivered her twin brother Apollo. You could say that, of all the Greek goddesses, the goddess Artemis was literally born to serve as a nurturer and protector!
The Greek goddess Artemis was frequently called upon to nurture her needy and somewhat ineffectual mother. All too often she felt compelled to come to her rescue even though Artemis received little from her mother in return. As a result of her having caused her mother no pain in childbirth, and her successful role as midwife in her brother’s birth, Artemis naturally became the patron saint of childbirth, the protector of children, and the goddess who especially heard the appeals of women.
The goddess Artemis was always responsive to the needs of the vulnerable and the suffering. She was quick to defend the powerless from unjust treatment at the hands of the Olympian patriarchy; it is not surprising that in current times Artemis is seen as the “feminist” goddess.”
What a kick ass Goddess! Right after she was born she helped deliver her baby brother Apollo? And like me, she had an ineffectual (probably narcissistic) mother that she had to take care of all her life? I can totally relate to having to come to a parent’s rescue time and time again, when you get little in return. And being a feminist in a time of overt patriarchy (especially with a philanderer like Zeus for a father)? Artemis, you rock!
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Today I’m doing something rare for me…two posts in one day! I didn’t plan to post this second entry today, but I feel compelled to do so and get something off my chest that I’m tired of hiding. For a long time I debated whether to tell my real story or not, because even when our family hurts us, we still feel a need to protect them.
So this post is about the most humiliating and potentially traumatic experience of my life. It happened when I was 15 years old. At that point I had already endured a rough childhood of turmoil, including being surrounded by and sometimes the target of verbal, mental and physical abuse, my parents’ constant instability in relationships, and the death of my father when I was 12. So, I was already pretty banged up emotionally and mentally. Not to mention the fact that I had undiagnosed high-functioning autism, which made it really hard for me to find my place in the world or understand it.
Anyhow, when I was 15, a boy who was I had been school friends with for years started showing interest in dating me. He was two grades ahead of me and 17 years old at the time. I agreed, but wasn’t sure if I really wanted to date or just be friends. So, I did bring him to my house a few times to hang out with him. In the end, I decided I just wanted to be friends and we decided not to date. Ironically enough (as you shall soon see), my mother actually helped me officially “break up” with him. We never kissed or anything like that, but the kids at school thought we were together and he was technically the first boy I ever “brought home”.
So after deciding to just be friends, I thought life would just go back to normal. But I was wrong. My mom started acting sort of weird. She was sneaking around having mysterious phone conversations and I even once caught her hiding outside, smoking, something I had NEVER seen her do before! I knew something was up, so one night I quietly picked up an extra phone extension to see who it was she was talking with at night. I was shocked to hear her and the guy I had been “dating” exchanging “I love you’s”. I confronted her after the call and she admitted to being in a relationship with him. I was angry, humiliated, shocked, and sickened.
After that, she quit hiding it and started taking off on dates with him pretty much every night, leaving me all alone night after night after night, or even dumping me off on random people so they could go away for days at a time. Before long, she moved him in and I had to live with them. By this time, everyone at school knew that he was dating my mother, which brought me a lot of uncomfortable questions about the situation, since they had all thought I had dated him. I even overheard teachers talking about my mom and the boy. Everyone treated me like my family was insane, and I felt like they had a right to do so because we WERE insane. It felt like Jerry Springer type stuff.
One of the most hurtful incidents I remember during this whole time was when I got into a fight with my mom’s new boyfriend. It was just a verbal fight, but I made him so mad with what I said that he punched me. I was so hurt by this that I jumped on my bike and rode away, even with my mom yelling after me to stop. Eventually I came back home, and instead of making him apologize to me for hitting me, my mom threatened to send me away to live with relatives. At this point, I felt like I was nothing and no one wanted me.
My mom married this boy the very day he turned 18. So I was going to the same school with my new “step-father”. Even though school had always been a refuge for me in the past, now it felt like torture every single day. I started skipping constantly and barely ended up graduating in the end because of all of it. When I was 16 we moved to another state and I went to a new school, but the feeling of shame followed me and I had given up on caring about school or about anything else. I was soon diagnosed with depression for the first time (not surprisingly!)
To this day I still hold a lot of resentment, anger, feelings of betrayal, and embarrassment about the whole thing. I have a relationship with my mother, but it is precarious and not the most trusting.