Category Archives: Motherhood and Children

Why!?

A new (and very supportive) Twitter friend of mine, the @RealMattEaton, and I have an unfortunate common bond: childhood abuse by our family. Matt and I “met” in a Monday night #sexabusechat and have shared a few meandering conversations since.  For some reason, he always seems to be around in the Twitterverse and responds at just the moment when I need to be tweeted off the ledge. After my last therapy session, I was processing a few of my thoughts via Twitter and definitely needed to talk to someone who *gets it.* There was Matt again, ready to lend an ear. I am in awe of and very grateful for his repeated selflessness.

Anyway, as we messaged about my past and my tumultuous relationship with my parents, he asked me a question that, while I have certainly pondered in general terms, have not really been asked or asked myself so pointedly:

Why would you want to remain in a relationship with them?

I don’t know, friend. I don’t know. Except, how could I not? This is my mother and father we’re talking about, after all.

Everyone wants, needs, craves a supportive, healthy, functional relationship with their parents. I, like Matt, and like an unconscionable number of other child abuse survivors, however, have never had real parents. Sure, we might have had adult human beings who cared for us, that we loved deeply, that loved us back, that we shared good (even joyous) times with.  But when adults abuse an innocent young human being, they simply don’t qualify for parenthood anymore, IMHO. Parental status, revoked.

The parental absence and abandonment leaves a void, an emptiness, a wanting, a lacking in the abused child’s heart that will be present with them for the rest of their lives. The abused child is left confused, stunted, and reckless. They desperately try to fill the chasm in their souls with addictions to mood altering substances (in my case food – dessert especially), anger, cutting, crime, anything that makes them feel something other than that sheer desperation or simply helps them forget. Without hard work, grit, and a little luck, some never make it to the other side of their grief from the ultimate betrayal by the adults in their lives.

Why do I want to keep them around? Why!?

Some days I really don’t. I have wished they were dead, just so this internal struggle, this insatiable desire for an impossible and unattainable functional relationship with them would be over (and I feel incredible guilt because of it).  I’ve gone through periods of no contact. Right now, in fact, we’re back to not speaking while they decide if our relationship is worth the effort of individual and family therapy. With the distance and time away, my heart usually softens and I welcome them back, hoping for better. Hoping for what I’ve been missing. It’s hard not to.  My real hope this time is for the strength to maintain my bottom line. It’s the only way we can ever achieve something close to normal.

Even Matt recently admitted that all the “child support” he needed was for his parents to be together as a unit rather than fighting over him and the money he generated in child support payments for his mother. He has chosen to cut the dysfunction from his life completely and I respect, understand, and applaud that, but I haven’t fully been able to. I may never fully be able to.

I don’t want to get married without my dad to walk me down the aisle. I want to have my mom there to help me through child birth. I want to be able to have dinners, share laughs and conversations. I don’t want to miss the last years of their lives and carry guilt for the rest of mine (like I do about my Gram) because I wasn’t capable of being the bigger person in the moment.

Despite everything, I love them, I miss them, I continue to want actual parents. I have seen the potential for greatness in my relationship with them and hold out hope that we can make it through this season in our lives better people, together. It would be easier in many ways, to turn off the switch, to forget it. But I’m kind of a hopeless romantic about life (I had to be to survive) and I just can’t let them go yet. Call me naive, a fool, whatever you like; I just can’t.

Check out my art and follow my journey on Twitter, Instagram., and in my Etsy shop.

Motherhood, A Series

The celtic knot with two hearts intertwined symbolizes the unbreakable and everlasting bond between mother and child. Each piece is printed/hand painted on vintage sheet music and reflects a different mother figure in my life.

M-O-T-H-E-R, A Word That Means The World To Me, c. 1915.  I see every supportive woman in my life in this piece. It pays homage to every woman (myself included) that has helped carry me through life when my own mother couldn’t.

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My Mother’s Rosary, c. 1915.  This knot was painted with my best friend,  and new mom, in mind.  “Ten baby fingers and ten baby toes…”

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The Songs My Mother Used To Sing, c. 1914.  This is my own mother. Like our relationship, it’s upside down and filled with darkness, but an unbreakable bond nevertheless.
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Check out my art and follow my journey on Twitter, Instagram., and in my Etsy shop.

Lost: One Bandwagon, If Found Please Return

Despite hoping to hop right back on the wagon, over the last few days I’ve totally lost sight of the bandwagon and reverted back to my old bingeing habits.

I imagine this feeling is similar to how people with chronic pain and opiod addictions feel (though I imagine that’s much harder). It certainly reminds me of something I read somewhere by a former addict turned addiction counselor.  Was it a blog? A tweet? I don’t even know now.  Either way, despite having gone through the ringer of addiction, they actually felt worse for food addicts.  They made a really good point about why, though.  Alcoholics and other addicts can put their “tiger” in a cage and leave it there, but food addicts have to take their “tiger” out of the cage at least three times a day, pet it, and put it back in the cage without getting hurt. 

The struggle is real, people.  Food addiction is a bitch.

Friday I was in a deposition all day and we all skipped lunch to try to get through it quicker.  Huge mistake. By the time I met my friend for dinner and drinks, I was starving and ate waaay too much.  I was proud that I at least skipped the post-drinking Del Taco binge, though. I did eat when I got home, but it was semi-healthy leftovers.  Small victories?

Yesterday, I was tired, cranky, slightly hungover, and had too much time to think about all the things that I prefer not to think about. I’m still processing my mother’s recent string of inappropriateness.  Talking to my aunt about her when we had a private moment at the buffet is weighing on my mind as well (more on that later). I’m feeling down on myself after that jerk told me that surgery is the lazy way out. The news about the Duggars (that @TruthIsHers wrote such an important piece on here) has also triggered more thoughts of my own abuse.  It’s maybe just a little much at the moment?

I did fairly well during the day, but I hardcore gave in to all my negative thoughts and ordered dinner from one of my favorite delivery spots to cope. Night time is always a struggle for me and my old habits are just so hard to quit. Honestly, I was really just in the mood for the desserts (yes plural), but delivery minimums and all. Rather than enjoy a little of the treat and leave the food for, say, the next day, I ate it all. *sigh* 

What can I say? I’m a fatass that learned early on if you didn’t clean your plate there’d be hell to pay.

I’ve probably shared the story already, but one of my shittiest and most distinct memories is from dinner time.  I was full (or maybe just didn’t want the rest of whatever we were eating or maybe just wanted to be a kid and go play) that night and wasn’t finishing my dinner, picking at my food.  After everyone else was done, I was left in the dark dining room by myself, forced to face away from my dad and brother watching TV in the living room so I could clear my plate without distraction. My mom was hovering in the kitchen, putting food away I think.  When I started to get emotional and said I was going to throw up (I had a sensitive stomach and anxiety over throwing up as it was), she screamed at me and slammed a big Tupperware bowl on the table in front of me.  If I threw up, she said, I had to do it in that bowl and I’d have to eat it. 

Lesson learned, mom. Lesson well fucking learned. 

I’m terrified that I’ll never conquer this beast on my back. It’s true, I have to eat.  I have to pet my tiger and put him back into his cage without getting mauled every single fucking day.  The past few days, my tiger has been really angry and upset and hurting and it took all that out on me.  My tiger is always going to be there, but with a much smaller cage after surgery.  If I can’t tame him before then, this shit is going to be even harder.  How the hell do I deal?

Can’t wait for therapy Wednesday.

Check out my art and follow my journey on Twitter, Instagram., and in my Etsy shop.

Unannouncement

After I was feeling so great that we had what I thought was a real moment, a genuine break through, she showed up at my house unannounced on Sunday. Yep, she blew through all boundaries to show up on her estranged daughter’s doorstep expecting a warm and happy welcome.

Keep in mind that she’s been to my house less than ten times in the six years since I bought this place. We spent nearly half of that time not speaking. I’ve seen her in person all of maybe half a dozen times since we started talking again.  Oh yeah, and let’s not forget that she abused me in ways I can’t fathom abusing anyone, ever.

I don’t have the capability, or the guts, or whatever it is that I need to ignore the doorbell or the knocks (driving my dog crazy). I don’t have the power to just tell her I don’t want to see her and that she needs to leave. I’m not assertive enough to answer her truthfully when she asks me if I don’t want to see her. I don’t have it in me to turn her away, despite the fact that all my alarm bells are ringing, my entire body is immediately buzzing, and inside I’m screaming at myself and at her that this is bullshit.

I let her in after I take a minute to hide a few personal things (like my open book on healing daughters of narcissistic mothers – oh the irony).  She is now in my safe space. Why did I let her into my safe space? She is tainting my safe space. I have no more safe space.

She tries small talk, but it’s forced and I’m not prepared. It ends up being the most awkward 30ish minutes you could imagine.

Finally, I get my wits about me and tell her that she can’t do this again. That she’s ruining our shot at a relationship by taking these liberties. I calmly explain to her that it’s awkward and uncomfortable because of our past. I let her know how I respect her space and need her to respect mine, reiterating that this can’t happen anymore. I remind her of the time I changed the locks after she threatened to come sit on my couch to force me into speaking to her again (she did actually come over and I got the bitch out of the century for being a bratty, ungrateful, spoiled child that would do such a thing), to give her a concrete example that if it wasn’t appropriate then, it’s not appropriate now (she claims not to remember, but I call bullshit).  I try to be nicely stern. Meanwhile, she’s visibly upset, on the verge of tears. I feel bad and tell her I don’t mean to upset her, but I continue saying my piece. I couldn’t stop at that point.

Her responses are so out of touch with reality.

“Well I called.” I didn’t hear the phone, but regardless, in what fucking world does that give you rights to come over unannounced?! 

“It’s rude not to answer.” I didn’t hear the phone, but regardless, in what fucking world does that give you rights to come over unannounced?!

“You said you wanted us to come over more.” Regardless, in what fucking world does that give you rights to come over unannounced?!

It ends with her declaring that she’ll never come over again. I throw my hands up in exasperation and tell her that’s not the point.  She’s even closer to tears as she walks put the door and down the front walkway towards her car. As I close the door behind her, I stand there, reeling. I’m confused, ashamed, fearful, sad, and so many other emotions that I can’t even put a name to. Days later, I still don’t know what to make of it all.

I’m afraid that the apology I remember from just days before was not what I thought after all. Maybe I was just so wrapped up in the mixture of wonderful feelings about trial and exhaustion that I heard something she never meant. Maybe she’s actually sick enough that she really just doesn’t get it. 

Either way, I’m left to pick up the pieces of my heart again. 💔

I had been getting my hopes up that there was some functionality to our relationship. I always get my stupid hopes up. She always finds a way to dash them. It’s an awful cycle that I’m tired of repeating.  I don’t know what to do anymore.

This book I’m reading says, “Before you can grieve, you have to accept the reality of what you have gone through. … Most narcissists lack the capacity to give significant, authentic love and empathy, and you have no other choice but to deal with this reality. Accepting that your own mother has this limited capacity is the first step. Let go of the expectation that it will ever be different.” I hope that the book also tells me how to give up hope without just giving up, because that feels like my only option at the moment.

I don’t feel at all equipped to navigate through this. I don’t know how to be the adult child of abusive parents. I don’t know how to keep myself protected while maintaining some semblance of a relationship with them. I don’t know how to get rid of the crippling guilt over losing my Gram’s final years (among other things) that makes me continue to cling desperately to this dysfunctional woman.  I don’t know how to release the hope that she can, on some level, just be a good, regular, mom. I don’t know how to rid myself of the desire that runs to the core of my being that she will someday love, respect, and support me in all the ways I wish she could. It’s killing me inside. It’s killing me.

Check out my art and follow my journey on Twitter, Instagram., and in my Etsy shop.

A Little Peace

We had a breakthrough of sorts.  We showed each other mutual respect, she actually acknowledged a large chunk of things in a meaningful way.  I’m so grateful for it.

I told her something along the lines of, “I always respected and admired your career.” Totally true. Career and education she has been my 100% cheerleader for in so many ways. In many ways not.  But still.

She was successful.  She worked her way up from the very bottom to second in command of a local governmental body.  She had no higher education, her parents couldn’t afford it.  But she was smart, she worked hard, and she, well, she fought her way there (more on that some time later).  I idolized her in so many ways.  She took advantage of it.

Growing up, I was always telling her how proud of her I was, so she could succeed (it always should have been the other way around).  Not to mention, some of the lessons she handed down were sick and twisted.  She was severely abused herself and took out all of her anger and her feelings of inadequacy on us.  She also, as happens, reenacted a lot of her abuse with us.  But I digress.  You’ve read some of my story, so you know by now (I hope).

Anyway.  She actually said before I could even get it out of my mouth, that her “career came at a high cost.” An incredibly high cost.  She said so much by saying so little in that moment.

We agreed that we can’t change the past and we both want to move forward how we can.  I explained to her that I’m just starting to work through a lot of things and it’s going to be hard sometimes, but we’re on the right track. 

I’m still hella guarded,  but we’re willing to work on it.  That’s good. 

Check out my art and follow my journey on Twitter, Instagram., and in my Etsy shop.

Setting Boundaries

This text to her is why I haven’t been posting the last couple weeks.  This text turned her into an ice queen like I haven’t seen in years.  This text made her decide she wanted to withhold her love again. 

This text:

I think we need to reestablish some healthy boundaries. Please be careful in the future about trying to take credit for my success or capabilities at work. I made all the sacrifice to get where I am today. I took it very personal and took great offense when you tried to make that about you. To be honest, I don’t feel at all like you taught me to argue. Quite the opposite, I never felt like I had a voice in our house. I didn’t have a voice. Being a lawyer is one of my ways to reclaim that and I cannot let you take any part of it from me. Things have gone kind of sour between us recently and I’d like to continue to work on it, but you have to keep working on it too. I like to call and give you fun news about work, but I can’t keep doing that if that happens again.

I’m not sorry about it. What I had originally written was scathing (I was pretty pissed originally, just look here). It took me four days to tame it down to a point I felt like I could send it.

Unfortunately, her reaction added a layer of stress to my life that I really just did not need right now.  Her reaction made me question why I still try.  Her reaction triggered a flashback from when she would threaten to cut off my fingers in the kitchen or burn me with her cigarettes.  Her reaction has nothing to do with me, but her reaction still deeply affects me.

I have to rise above this again. I have to keep being the bigger person.  I have to grow.  I have to do all these things to make this relationship work and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of trying. I’m tired of putting myself out there.  I’m tired. I’m sad.  I’m hurting.  I have tried everything I can think of.

Honestly, she’s lucky I even speak to her. She’s lucky I’m in her life at all, after everything. I’ve given her chance after chance.  I’m done.  I’m getting off of the rollercoaster. I can’t let myself slip into the sick cycle again. Not now; not ever.   I owe myself more than that. 

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On Mother’s Day

Mom Day ECard 7

She never expected gifts for Mother’s Day, thank goodness; but a card and a visit were mandatory.

I remember the conversation pretty clearly – we had it every year that my brother forgot (or intentionally ignored) Mother’s Day.   Her rationale seemed innocent enough – a card and a visit one day a year weren’t too much for the person who gave you life to ask, were they?  What she really wanted was for someone to mend her shattered heart and when my brother failed to do so, it became my job.  It never should have been, but it was always my responsibility to make things right.  Mother’s Day became no different – another obligation from daughter to mother.

Every May I dutifully searched for the perfect card to express “my” love for her. I always knew when I had the right one, because the message inside made me want to cry.  Each time, I convinced myself that the emotions came when the card said, in words, what my heart actually felt.  As it turns out, the tears actually welled up in my eyes when the expression of mother-daughter love resembled what she needed and demanded that I believe it was.

Every May I identified less and less with those sappy Mother’s Day cards.  I didn’t feel the unconditional love they spoke of.  I couldn’t relate to the caring, nurturing, supportive relationship that Mother’s Day cards so eloquently describe.  I began to feel uncomfortable giving her praise for being this person I knew she wasn’t.   I couldn’t reconcile the words with my feelings, so I continued.  I felt like I had to.

Until I couldn’t do it anymore.  I couldn’t buy another sweet Mother’s Day card and make the obligatory visit.  Thankfully, Mother’s Day comes when you’re starting to make the the final push before finals, so my visits were excused.  Flower delivery, with a card that reads “Happy Mother’s Day, Love Lex” was an acceptable substitute.  I didn’t have to lie again.  I didn’t have to wrestle with my emotions.  I could just spend my money, make a phone call, and live another day.

I do my best to ignore Mother’s Day altogether these days.  No calls, no visits, no texts, no flowers or cards.   It’s hard.  The barrage of advertisements in my inbox, my mailbox, and on my favorite websites reminds me that I am shirking my (perceived) obligation to the one who gave me life.  The articles about women who lost their mother to cancer or some other tragedy leave me feeling guilty for not celebrating the short time I have with her while she’s here.  The touching stories of mothers who champion for their children make me wish I would receive the same from my own mother.

Honestly, I can’t bear to look at a display of Mother’s Day cards now.  They’d never really say what I wish I could say.  That I’m hurting.  That I’m angry.  That I wish she would do something – anything – to fight to save this relationship.  That my biggest desire is for her to show remorse and accept responsibility for her actions.   Hallmark doesn’t have a section like that.  So, I entertain myself with woefully inappropriate Mother’s Day cards.

Mom Day ECard 5

Mom Day ECard 3