Subtitled: And Mama, It Ain't You
Today I discovered that the healing words I write have turned on me.
My mother told anyone who will listen that I've stolen vast amounts of money from her. She said I wrote that on the internet. My brother today asked what I've been doing with the money.
Not only can I not find where I said I stole money, I've never done it. In fact, the only time I took something that wasn't mine my mother marched me back in the store to return it. It was a spool of thread, I think.
The difference between her assertion that I stole and my assertion that I didn't? I can provide proof.
So, does that mean I stop writing?
I don't think so.
I don't write for my mother -- although I might write because of her and what she's done to me.
I write to heal. I write to share a story. I write to end a lifetime of shame and secrecy.
I can't stop writting when she tries to use my words against me.
My mother has always attempted to shame or bully me into doing things her way.
She'd do it physically if she were enraged. She'd push into my space, screaming or yelling about the topic of the day. She'd force me backward until I couldn't go any further, a malicious gleam in her eye.
If she were just mad or we were in public, she'd talk louder and louder until I complied with what she wanted to get her to stop whatever shameful things she was saying.
If we weren't physically together, she'd badmouth me to people I respect -- and probably to people I don't even know.
Nothing's changed for her.
Everything's changed for me.
All my life, I've heard my mother saying, "I can't deal with you. I'm going to leave. I won't be here when you wake up tomorrow." I dreaded waking up and finding her gone. What would we do without our mother, I often wondered. I begged her to stay, to not leave us. I prayed as hard as I could to be better, do better so she wouldn't go. As far as I know she never actually left.
After my boys were born we had a respite for awhile. She loved my babies beyond imagining and devoted herself to delighting them. Observing their interaction with her, I remember smiling with my whole body. I didn't know that it couldn't last. Her salvation needs to come from within her -- not from any outside source, no matter how dear that source.
One night a couple years ago, I was worried about her. Dad was out of town and I'd been trying to reach her all day. I went to her house on my way home, and she wouldn't answer the door. I went through the garage, concerned because of her health issues. I discovered her inside the house with a case of empty beer bottles. She was consummed by rage. I have no idea why. She was screaming and ranting and kept pushing me in the chest or shoulder with the phone until she forced me into the rocking chair. In that moment I wished with every part of me that she would go away.
When she finally left in the winter of last year, I was concerned and hoped she was safe. I tried to call her a couple times. I even checked a couple of sources I had to make sure she was okay.
Then I quit checking on her.
It slowly occurred to me that for the first time in my adult life, I was experiencing real peace.
It's okay to rest in that peace and give thanks for it.