Mommy Nearest

13 Jan

I’ve been asked by more than one reader about my mother.  Apparently she’s missing from my blogs lately and people are curious about my very complicated and volatile relationship with her.  It’s like reading a book and there’s a protagonist and you’re just so curious about what really happened to them.  I’m not sure if in my case if it’s more Patricia Cornwell or Stephen King.  The truth is, I haven’t spoken to my mother since October.  Now, before you judge me…..

The last time I saw my mother was at my aunt’s deathbed.  I held my aunt’s hand and watched as she succumbed to the cancer that had been periodically visiting her body for the last fifteen years.  She was ravaged by pain and regret and although we had a falling out, attributable mostly to my mother and my desire that my aunt stop enabling her prescription pill habit, we were able to communicate both our love and our sorrow before she passed.  I comforted my mother in her sorrow and ignored her painful outbursts aimed at my aunt’s husband and myself.  It was time to put aside petty things.

I thought the pain and the sorrow of losing her sister would be enough to make my mother realize what she was inflicting on her children and her grandchildren.  She was not speaking to my sister.  My sister had been angry and said angry words, and according to my parents they were unforgivable.  They decided to never speak to my sister again, and in doing that had not spoken to their grandchildren either.  I played mediator for a period of time, and had clung to a small vestige of hope that all of it could be resolved.  I talked my sister into visiting the hospital with me while my aunt was still cognizant enough to know she was there.  I watched from the doorway as my mother snarled at my sister and rolled her eyes and the disgust was palpable.  My sister’s egregious act was by telling my mother and my father she was angry, she was hurt and they had caused it.  For this, my mother could barely even look at her as she sat crying at my aunt’s bed side.

I was certain death would be the catalyst to bring us all together.  After all, hadn’t my sister and I forgiven my parents so many things?  There were instances of neglect that were so painful, and yet we saw past them.  We had overlooked my mother’s drug addiction for years and had forgiven my father for enabling it.  Surely, words spoken would not be the straw that broke my family’s back.  Yet, even in the tragedy of death, they could not see beyond their own selfishness.  First one, then two holidays past and they refused to see my sister or their grandchildren.  I pleaded and ranted at my father, and still he held steadfast.

So, how is my mother?  To be honest, I have no idea.  I haven’t spoken to her in three months and neither will I.  It seems cold dead hearted to abandon my parent when she needs me the most, but I’ve extricated myself from the guilt I’ve carried all these years.  I cannot have a relationship with her while she’s on drugs, be them prescription or not.  It has been her decision to not speak to my sister and her grandchildren.  Now, she’s locked up in her house, sleeping in a recliner when she’s not watching Law and Order and I can’t imagine a more miserable existence.  I once believed loving her could make a difference, but it hasn’t nor will it ever.

I’d like to say at least I have my father, but I’m no longer speaking to him either.  His choice has always been to allow my mother to erode our family.  He has chosen not to see his grandchildren.  He has chosen to disown my sister.  There was a time when I understood his pain, but those are bygone days.  The history speaks for itself and my parents have to live with the choices and decisions they made.  It sounds harsh and simplistic, but it’s anything but.  I’m a parent and I love my child more than my own life.  I cannot imagine she could say something so egregious I would cut her out of my life.  I cannot imagine saying to her that her pain and the words she may say in it, are unforgivable.

I’ve thought a lot about this.  After all, I was grateful I had sat at my aunt’s bed side and said goodbye to her.  I was grateful I heard her apology and I was able to give mine.  It’s beyond sad to waste moments that could be spent loving and understanding each other.  But I hug my sister, this woman who was once this baby I loomed over in her crib.  I had loved her wholeheartedly.  She was a prelude to the daughter I would one day call my own.  She is a beautiful soul, yet in so much pain directly caused by my parents.  They did not keep us safe and did not protect us.  She wears the open wounds of someone who longed for comfort and never received it.

It is a miracle neither of us are drug addicts or in prison.  Instead, we turned to each other and found the comfort in our family of two.  Our family expanded with our children and we swore we would do things differently, and we have.  Our children have never felt alone in the world.  We had each other.  I remember laying in bed at night, whispering to each other in the room we shared, trying to cheer her up with funny stories.  She deserved better.  I deserved better.

So since my father insisted I had to choose a side, I did.  I thought of my sister crying in a hallway with my mother smacking her and my father standing feebly by.  I had pulled my mother off her and demanded my mother to leave.  She didn’t and my father didn’t make her.  But in that moment, we became all that each other ever had.  So if my parents can’t forgive my sister for the words she said, then they have chosen to be alone.  We are surprisingly happy and well adjusted.  Not having to watch my mother slur her words and lash out while high on drugs is a relief.  Not having to wonder why my father didn’t and doesn’t do more to prevent it is no longer an issue.  We have each other.  Maybe that’s what got us through it all.

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10 Responses to “Mommy Nearest”

  1. maggsworld January 15, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    Your heart is not dead. I hear the love beating. You and your sister have each other and I am grateful for that. Too, I am grateful for your honesty. I am sad ( so so sad) that your mother and father let you down like that – again. Thank you too for the bravery of your honesty.

  2. Cold Dead Heart January 15, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Thanks for your kind words. I know my situation isn’t unique in the world, but I do hope people can take away at least something from it. It feels good to be honest after years of lying about the dysfunction.

  3. David M. Green January 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Sometimes all one can do is move forward and leave the one’s causing the problems behind…At least you and your sister are still a family.

    • Cold Dead Heart January 15, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

      What’s that quote..you can pick your friends..but not your family? I’m accepting mine is the one I’m creating, not the one I’m born to. And thank you for
      your words of encouragement. 🙂

  4. getoveryourselfnkm January 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    One either gets to see the worst or the best in a family when dealing with the demise of a loved one. When dealing with your parents you saw the truth. When you accept the truth, then it is no longer a burden to have them in your life. It is difficult not to honor the folks who gave you life, especially the woman who carried you for nine months. Deep down you know your parents fall short, but it is hard to accept this as a matter-of-fact. It does not make you any less of a person, it does calm your doubts and you can be around them and not be scooped up in their drama. Perhaps you can even come to see some humor in the dumb things they say or do. You share your journal and I don’t always respond, but I do see growth with you this past year. You still send too much time fretting over your relationship. If you accept you can’t change, you are not responsible for their actions and tolerate for just the moment and then move on you will find it much easier each time.
    My mother-in-law was a sweet person, but she was never spontaneous, unable to openly give love, selfish , unable to make decisions and unable to forgive her own mother who got pregnant with her at 14. Once It occurred to me to me through lack of education, nurturing and etc. that she did dumb things out of stupidity not being mean spirited. I know you can’t fix stupidity so I let go and did not dwell on it. You are almost there.

    • Cold Dead Heart January 16, 2012 at 10:57 am #

      Thanks so much for your advice and encouragement. I can love them, and accept they are who they are. It’s just sad they can’t likewise get past the petty arguing.
      I’m getting there 🙂

  5. The Hook January 16, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    My heart goes out to you, young lady. Parents are both a blessing and a curse – unfortunately.

    • Cold Dead Heart January 16, 2012 at 10:56 am #

      Thank you 🙂 I’m definitely fortunate I know, despite all the dysfunction.

  6. njfawcett February 7, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    The poet Philip Larkin wrote ‘they f**k you up, your Mum and Dad.’ I’m sure there are great parents out there: sadly I don’t think I’ve been one of them, although I’ve tried my hardest, and I know my children forgive me past mistakes. Sadly, too, it sounds like you and your sister have had the hardest time. I’m new to your blog, and all I can think of to say to you is this: Sometimes it’s impossible to go on making excuses for someone no matter how much you love(d) them. You can only forgive and forget so many times. At that point the only possible solution, for the sake of your own well-being, is to give up and walk away. I wish you luck on your journey

    • Cold Dead Heart February 7, 2012 at 10:24 am #

      Once my sister and I found this picture of a cake..it said, “You two suck for different reasons.” We thought it was hysterical and had threatened to give to our parents at various holidays. I suppose our humor helped us overcome a lot of it. I think it’s true, sometimes you have to give up and walk away. Sometimes you have to accept people really are that petty, cruel and even a little evil. I have not spoken to my mother since November and it’s actually been quite nice to take a break from her drama. I wish her the best, but I’m moving on with my life without the chaos she creates in it. Thanks for your words of encouragement and stopping by. We’re all on a journey, and it’s great we get to share it. 🙂

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