When Your Mother Wasn’t- Part II
Over the past 3 years, I have come to accept some hard truths about my Mother which I spoke about in Part I. From all outward appearances, my Mother is a sweet, kind, gentle, older lady. Thus, no one would believe me if I told them about the Mother I know. The truth is, she can be all of those things. The problem is, she uses them to use you. Again, I want to assure you that I am not just trying to say awful things about my Mother. I love her. However, these are the things I had to accept as totally true. I also had to accept how the things she does have my entire life since childhood.
My Mother moved our family of 3 out of Idaho to California when I was 4. My Father worshipped the ground she walked on until the day he died, so, if she wanted to go to California, we went. There were happy times. Then, my Mother began drinking. She not only became an alcoholic, she became a different person. I firmly believe that she has been mentally ill for her entire life, but never diagnosed because she also highly functional - in a very dysfunctional way - and was self-medicating.
She isolated me from all family with the exception of 2 Uncles and a Great Aunt. Then she moved us away from them, to Nevada where we knew no one. After my Father was gone, I saw him only occasionally and was told he never tried to communicate with me - a lie. A series of men went through our lives. Mom worked hard, drank hard and partied hard. There was no place left in her life for me. Not a sob story, just a fact. One of those men molested me. My Mom didn’t believe me when I told her so it was years before I ever spoke of it again. To this day, she doesn’t know because she doesn’t even remember my telling her. I began to act out. I hated her; I hated myself; I tried to commit suicide; I drank; I was horribly lonely and tormented, and I decided that if I stopped feeling I could not be hurt. It took years to undo that one!
I ran away and ended up with my Father. We moved back to Idaho and within a couple of years (at age 16), I met the man who was my husband for 49 years. His family took me in as if I was theirs, and, for the first time in my life, I was part of a normal family. He went to Vietnam; we had three sons; we spent many years in ministry; we loved and laughed, and had hard times but loved each other until he passed away in 2015. Now, I have been a widow, survived cancer and remarried.
At the same time, my Mother’s lifetime of lies began to be revealed. For instance, I loved her parents (my Grandparents). They were wonderful to me. She told me they had beaten her and all the kids every day with switches, beaten them to go to church, and constantly verbally abused them. I had resumed a relationship with my Aunt (one of my Mom’s sisters) and Uncle. We began to visit about some of the things Mom had told each of us for many years. The lies and the hatred she had toward almost everyone, came out. It was a strange sensation to realize that most of the things I had grown up believing were lies. In addition, I didn’t know truth from lies in her words. I had begun to stand up to her as she lied to me about my Aunt and a neighbor lady. I told her in no uncertain terms that I would not listen to it any longer. One day, I hung up on her when she started to say things about my Aunt. I tried to stop her, she started screaming at me, and I hung up. When her ability to manipulate me ended, I became her enemy and she ended our relationship.
After my husband died, I also learned of the horrible things she said about him even after his death. She had done the same with my Uncle’s wife who had passed. The ugly pile of lifelong lies piled up and I could no longer allow her to control me through lies and self-pity. As is common with this type of personality, my Mother is always the victim. In every situation in her life, she has made herself the victim. The victim of abusive parents, of sexual abuse by a cousin, of my Father, of every man she was ever with, of her neighbor (who was trying to kill her), and my Aunt. Now a victim of her daughter. She is really, really good at it. I came to see that, because she has lived her entire life like this, she must always create an abuser so she can be a victim. It is her lifeline.
I also realized much about myself. Though I had forgiven and lived a wonderful life, I was highly inhibited for years and years. I was supposed to be a doll she could dress up and show off - she literally told me that. I had to be perfect. I was afraid to talk or be the center of attention. I thought I was worthless and had no talent for anything. I thought I was ugly. My Mother, as a young woman, was beautiful. I wasn’t. I stayed away from my family because that was how I was raised. I thought I had to fix everything because that is what an only child must do. I had to clean my Mom up when she came home drunk. I had to be the calm one who thought things out. I had to take care of myself. Yet, I was terribly lonely and afraid, afraid even to feel.
I have lived with fear since I can remember. That awful, sick, gnawing feeling down inside was constant. I was afraid to fail, afraid of people, afraid of new situations, and, you name it, I was probably afraid of it. Yet, there was a stubborn side to me that wanted to rebel against all of it. To this day, I fight with fear. At this moment in my life, I have no reason to be afraid. I am at peace. Yet, fear still tries to visit me. I have conquered much of it but it was a seed planted in my life. I am the victor over it now, but it has been a lifetime war.
In the next, and last blog, I will talk about finding my way out of my Mother’s maze by choosing to look for the good path winding through all of it, finding God’s love and grace.