When it comes to talking about my childhood, I really struggle. I remember bits and pieces of mostly bad memories, but what is really lacking are memories of my Mom. My mom is still alive today, really coming into her own. I can’t pretend to know the why’s of everything with her, but she has told me some things.
I remember mostly wanting to be close to her. I wanted the bonding time with her that for whatever reason has always been strained. She would spend “token” time. Please don’t misunderstand…she was never cruel. Most of the time she was just too busy, or whatever, to really take any bonding time with me, her only daughter. There were those instances she seemed to avoid being with me, spending time talking or anything of the sort. I believe I understand a little better as to why, now. Right now, she is in ICU at the hospital, but growing stronger by the day. I’m grateful for that. I have always loved my mom. Today, I love her more than I have ever been allowed to, over the past several years.
the few memories I do have are of the few times I finally was able to feel close to her, feeling loved and protected. I remember my first love, who dumped me at the age of 11…(oh the mind of a pre-adolescent!). he just wanted to be friends. I remember him…his name was Mike. He had striking blue eyes, gorgeous blonde hair, and captured my heart the first day I met him. As children do…”wanna go with me?”…”ok.”…there you have it…instant boyfriend and girlfriend. We were on the same bowling team, of which my Dad coached part-time. When Mike “broke up” with me, (that makes me laugh, now) I was devastated! I sobbed uncontrollably and thought the world came to an end right in front of my nose. Mom came to the bowling alley to pick me up (or did I call her to pick me up? Not certain.). I was crying, still. We sat in her car while she talked to me. She was understanding and loving. She was also reassuring. Everything I needed her to be at that exact point in time. I don’t really remember what was said between us. I just remember how she made me feel that day. I felt like someone had wrapped me in their arms, held me tight, and I believed in my soul that everything would be ok. She did hug me, but it was more in the love she showed that day, than physical touch, that made the most difference. It was a wonderful experience. I don’t have much of a description about that, other than that I remember feeling more loved than I ever had before, and safer.
When I was younger, still…perhaps just 5 years old… I remember a thunder-storm. It was raining outside, and it was just my mom, brother and I. Maybe I was even younger than that. My step dad wasn’t there. Mom knew I was scared, so she pulled out some paper dolls that she bought for me. It was a surprise for me, as if she had planned it just for such an occasion. We punched out the tabbed outfits and stands for our little princesses, and chose together which outfits each would wear. I remember how the thunder that startled me, seemed almost non-existent in the middle of our dress-up time. I was safe then, too. Same feeling of closeness that would be so illusive throughout the remaining years.
The following years, were very long and painful for me. Mom really wasn’t “available” to me, and I felt she resented me for some reason. Now, I believe she really didn’t know how to heal from her own pain, and still protect me from mine. It’s the old thought..”if you can’t beat it, avoid it”. “What you ignore will eventually go away”…that last statement applied to being around abusive men as well. If dad got mad, mom told me, “If you would just stay quiet, eventually it will stop”. I paid attention to everything my Mom said during those times. I learned to be just like her in some ways. I didn’t recognize any of this until just this past year. Mom minimizes discomfort, illness, fear, pain, and anything in those areas. Minimizing things makes them easier to deal with…or ignore until they “go away”. Don’t get me wrong..Dad was a wonderful man, though he had a very BAD temper! I learned to be silent, so the verbal barrage would end. Mom did the same thing.
This “life lesson” would continue well into my 40’s, which I’m in, now. This lesson also made me more susceptible to abuse. I learned that it was a bad thing to voice my discontent, anger, disappointment, or disagreement of anything… I learned to go to a “safe place” of sorts, where I internalized things in order to protect myself from that which I didn’t know how to handle. Minimize and ignore… Here’s an example of the extent of this: 17 years ago I was in a serious car accident. I was driving with my friend who was in the passenger seat. We were just out for a nice country drive, and headed back home. A 71 Mustang t-boned my little 82 Toyota Starlet, on the passenger side of the car. The car that hit me was going about 60 mph, going around the bend. I was in the way. I had narrowly avoided a head-on collision with a minivan at the same time, by veering into the opposite lane. The mustang came directly after the minivan. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The impact threw my car 50 feet, into an adjacent field. My car was folded in half. My friend was knocked unconscious and suffered a 6X broken pelvis and shattered leg. She had to be heart-flighted to a hospital in the next larger city.
An off-duty EMT was coming down the hill, and was on scene in a very short period of time, taking field-vitals. (quick measurements, to quickly evaluate the status of the patients). I made sure he checked my friend, as I knew she was badly hurt. I dislocated my thumb, and was cut up pretty bad. when he got to me (approx 1 minute later), he took my pulse… keep in mind the seriousness of the accident… my pulse was a calm 60 bpm!! It should have been racing from sheer adrenaline! I had gone to my “safe place”. Minimize… What do you make of that, Watson?? That is something I would continue to do, as I had done since childhood, with every abuser of my life. In the middle of abuse, I would separate myself so I didn’t have to endure the brunt of it. Sexual abuse… physical abuse… and now psychological abuse at the hands of a psychopath. The amazing thing is that while going through the abuse at the hand of the psychopath, I couldn’t minimize it, i couldn’t separate myself, or guard myself in any way. I was a lamb for the slaughter, while fully aware of the danger…I couldn’t stop it, or wish it away. I was “dinner” for over a year.
I am working on voicing my feelings and thoughts, being fully aware that I might make someone mad, or upset them somehow, without meaning to. This thought scares the hell out of me!!! My natural inclination is to stay quiet, and not say anything. God knows, I can’t handle upsetting someone, or causing them to be angry with me. it’s a battle to re-learn life-long habits and beliefs. My mom is now trying very hard to build a relationship with me. My dad passed away a couple of years ago. Now mom seems freer to speak her mind, though she’s apologetic, and unsure of herself. It’s as if she has to choke out the words.
I went to see her at the hospital this morning before work. She is still on the ventilator, but was fully awake. She reached out to me, pulled me close, and ran her fingers through my hair. I am scared again…she made me feel loved again today, in spite of the fear and uncertainty. The times she shows this, are the times that count the most. I am grateful for being able to experience the bonding with her, that I’ve longed for, for so long. Gentle spirit, my Mom. She deserves so much better…