Thursday, September 21, 2006

It's all relative

Compassion for my mother and her problems has been haunting me lately. I really had to stop and ask myself some tough core questions. Why can’t I remember any of the good times? Have they actually all been bad? What am I missing? True, she had some tough issues and decisions to make regarding men, her husbands, my father and most importantly for me, my birth. Did she try and do her best, no matter if she failed or not?
Am I being fair blaming her for her lack of love or attention? So many questions seeking answers that I alone could not answer. Intense therapy sessions would only seem to bring more confusion and more questions to the forefront. My shrink would listen and then together we would hash over words like narcissistic, evil, crazy, self serving, etc. She would painstakingly explain each one. Still I looked for answers, anything to define my mother’s behavior.

My brother had a different experience with her than I did. I tried talking to him at one point and he shrugged it off with, “ I don’t have any of the memories of Mommy that you do.” Then half jokingly would add, “but she always liked me better anyway.” Not funny. Not even a joke, but my life or happiness was never a part of his concern.

A few weeks ago I decided to try and solicit any information I could from 2 family members who knew my mother from a different perspective. I thought if I asked them both the same questions, I could pinpoint specific events in her life before I was born, maybe, just maybe there would be that one ah-ha moment when things became a little clearer.

My first cousins from my mother’s two sisters were closer in age to my mother than they are to my age. They are both in their late 70’s, and unmarried. They chose to stay home and take care of their mothers until my aunts died. I had long since fallen out of favor for not following in their footsteps.

I started off with Cousin #1 by telling her that I was doing some writing and trying to figure out some things about my life, namely some my mother’s issues. She immediately became suspicious and asked 2 things- was she being taped- I assured her she wasn’t and was I going to write mean things about my mother. I told her I was writing the truth from my perspective. She began by telling me that my mother was a “change of life baby”, that she wasn’t supposed to be born and wasn't supposed to live. Her birth brought about her hard life.
She went on to tell me that her mother lived with them when she was younger because no one liked her.” She explained that the White Tower saved my mother’s life when they hired her and gave her self esteem and that whatever she did, she did for “the kids.”
Because of difficult times her mother was ready to adopt my brother. When I asked about my adoption, she glossed over it by explaining that “someone would have stepped in”.

Cousin # 2 had a different take on things. She said that my mother was an “unhappy soul” and she had cut herself off from everyone. She added that everyone was aware of how she treated my brother vs how I was treated, but couldn’t say anything. What she did say next caught me off guard. She mentioned that my mother’s life became even worse after “the movie theatre incident.” I pressed her further to explain.
It seems when while mother was married to Frankie’s father, he was arrested for exposing his “private parts” in a movie theatre to men and children.

The sordid circle became a little clearer. It didn’t even end with my brother’s father succumbing to syphilis. The cycle of abuse had continued from my brother’s father to my brother. This must have been what happened.
But it never stopped. Why not? Weren’t the red flags up?

I brought back these two packets of information to the only person I’ve been able to totally trust, my shrink Dr Lubin. I have faith this unbiased woman would point me in the direction of the truth, at any cost, whether I possessed some sort of inability to see the entire picture of my mother’s life, or if indeed my mother did lead such a wretched life.
I was always left with the same gnawing feeling. She didn’t have to be that unhappy.

As before, the words were the same.

Same diagnosis, same woman, same mother.

Narcissistic, evil, crazy, self serving.

What an incredibly sad way to describe a person’s life.

What an incredibly sad way to describe my mother's life.


Blogger Michelle O'Neil said...

....and the madness stops with you. Quite a lot of responsiblity you have here to turn it around.

Looks like you've agreed to the assignment and are doing great work!

Remember, when you are healed you are never healed alone. You bring lots of people with you.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Go Mama said...

I am reminded of this sticky note, taped to my wall: Resilience--the inexhaustible capacity to heal oneself.

You are here. You have survived. To ask the "why was she's" is like a dog chasing its tail. Why? Because. Why? Because.

More interesting is what you are going to do with it now, and by that I mean the knowledge you have learned from the experience. Choose love. Choose healing. Choose light. You are already that.

5:52 PM  
Blogger serenity said...

Great comments that come before me, and I ditto them both.

It strikes me the cycles that are passed from one generation to the next. Your mother "not supposed to have life." Where do these judgments come from. How incredibly sad. A sad life lived.

And I loudly echo in the chorus that you are turning that around for your own life. Love, light, healing. Choices. Your heart is a beautiful example of it all.

Thank you for sharing your incredibly heartwrenching stories and in so doing sharing you. It is a gift and a blessing and an honor to know you.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Carrie Wilson Link said...

Suzy, I am PROUD of you! What a woman! What a warrior of the light! You can take an A, a bow, and a standing ovation.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Jerri said...

I'm with Carrie on the standing ovation, Suzy.

I've read this piece three times and still can't come up with anything adequate to say.

Truly, you have stopped the cycle and are inventing a new one with your life.

Huzzah! Bravo! Felicitations! and--


12:43 PM  
Anonymous psychobabble said...

I think some of our hardest work is the work we do regarding our mothers. If you keep doing the work - you will become free.

Great writing - it hits home.

12:28 PM  

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