It’s no secret I have mother issues. Normally they’re on the DL, you know, just kind of there minding their own business. But Tuesday? Well, Tuesday they threw a f**king parade.
YBW and I were with our therapist Tuesday. And while discussing something (that at the time seemed) completely unrelated the teenage girl in me was triggered.
The summer after my freshman year of high school, my mother literally removed all trace of me from my home. She packed up all my belongings in black trash bags and left them on the porch. When my father took me to pick up my things, my mother would not allow me in the house. She actually stood behind the storm door long enough to deny me entrance before closing the big door in my face. I wasn’t allowed to say goodbye to my brother. I never got to hug my Grandaddy. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to my cat.
When I was fifteen years old, my mother sent me to live with the father who abandoned me when I was five.
I know you want to ask why.
Believe me, I asked it enough. In fact, the last time I made the attempt to speak with my mother about it, she politely told me she was not going to discuss it. That it was over and there was no reason to go back to it.
UM…NO REASON TO DISCUSS THE SEMINAL MOMENT IN MY LIFE!?!?
So, to answer your question, I don’t know why.
I do know that she didn’t like the fact that I was beginning to become my own person. I no longer wanted to be a girl scout. I no longer wanted to be a memember of the CAR. I didn’t want to do the things she forced me to do. I wanted to do things I was curious about, interested in, not just what she decided I would do.
I wanted to play softball. I wanted to take theater, and dance classes.
I played briefly at not turning in homework and skipping classes. That didn’t last long, I love(d) learning and understood it was ridiculous to miss out on something I loved to spite my mother.
I started dating a very sweet guy that was instantly hated simply because of the timing. He was kind and caring and was actually good for me, encouraging me to be more focused in school, etc.
I wanted to choose more for myself. I was weary of living the life she designed, I wanted to be my own person.
Of course, this is actually developmentally appropriate behavior for teenagers.
And I was not drinking. I was not doing drugs. I was just trying to figure out what I wanted my life to look like.
That was not what my mother wanted. She expected me to do all the things she wanted me to do. She expected me to live my life for her. She didn’t want any part of a daughter that didn’t keep her head down and do what she was told.
According to my father, my mother called him one day at work and when he answered she said, “If you don’t take her, I’m putting her in a home.” His reply…? “Who is this?”
(I learned this as a 40-something year old woman)
Yeah, these two f**kwits were my parents. Yay. (sarcasm, just so we’re clear)
I didn’t do what she wanted me to so she got rid of me.
Let that sink in. I didn’t do what she wanted me to do so she got rid of me.
No conversation, no talk with me about ‘getting it together’, no warning. Just me calling her from my dad’s one afternoon in the summer asking her to pick me up so I could come home and her telling me, “You’re not coming home.”
Let that sink in. “You’re not coming home.”
That was her solution to her problem of me. Her first born child, her only daughter. Her solution to the problem of me not doing what she wanted was to get rid of me.
What kind of mother does that?
And even after my deep-heel-digging-in resistance, this all (and more) came out in our therapy session.
So. Many. Tears.
I didn’t want YBW there. I didn’t want the therapist there. I’d rather never have to be there, but of course, ‘there’ is always down deep in me.
Here’s why I don’t want anyone there.
First of all, it was the most damaging moment of my life. In that moment I was taught that if I didn’t do what someone else wanted/expected/told me to do, I was so unlovable that I needed to be disposed of. In that moment I learned that without knowing all the rules all the time I was never going to be safe. In that moment I learned that home is nothing but a noun.
Secondly, I have so much shame regarding every single bit of that.
I am so ashamed it happened to me. Ashamed because I feel like I’m betraying my mother if I tell this story.
No one should experience what I did. Even secondhand.
Of course, that’s not how therapy works. And I’m a weeping, gasping, snotty mess talking about how my mother didn’t love me. Talking about how I was sent away from my little brother. How I was sent away from my own precious Grandaddy.
I wanted to run as far away from that room as my feet could carry me. I hated every single moment of sharing that story. To be perfectly honest, I would rather have removed my own tongue than share that experience.
After the worst of it, I talked about Grandaddy. How he was the first man I ever loved. How he taught me how to give and receive love. How he taught me to express myself and not be passive aggressive like my mother. How he once told me that if anything every happened to my mother, I never had to worry, I didn’t have to leave him, he would keep me with him always. How until the day I left Thing 2 in the NICU, the day he died was the worst day of my life. How even though he could sometimes be a grouchy old man, he was chock full of love.
Our therapist suggested that I’m kind of a grouch in love because that’s how I learned to love.
I actually laughed out loud! She’s right.
I’m gruff but loving.
Velvet hammer, much?
I love the way I was loved by the only adult who loved me consistently and unconditionally.
(I suspect the girls will experience a great “Ah ha” moment at reading this.)
What kind of mother throws away her child because she can no longer control her?
My kind of mother.
All my issues with trust, with always having to know and understand what the rules are. All my issues of never feeling good enough, or truly lovable. All my issues regarding feeling safe. And my issues regarding house vs home, wondering if I’ll ever feel at home anywhere again?
These are directly related to that trauma.
That trauma she caused.
The one she flat refused to discuss later on in our lives.
And still I have the guilt. Still I have the shame.
It feels like, I shouldn’t talk mad shit about my mother. I should protect her. She loved me. She did the best she could.
How every single bit of it still feels like my fault.
Our therapist asked YBW to be my fifteen year old self’s ‘champion’ as a way of having an adult speak to my mother.
First he told her that I am an amazing, beautiful, loving, woman and mother no thanks to her.
He told her I was fractured, but she did not break me.
He told her that I learned love from her father and that he is a part of me every single day and she is not.
He told her that I am a really wonderful mother, and she should never have told me otherwise.
He told her that because I’m so lovely he was blessed and honored to be my husband.
He told her a great big f**k you!
And finally, he told her that all I wanted to do was go home, why wouldn’t she let me go home?
Years ago, I used to say, “Home is where the Roby is.”
I didn’t realize it was because I felt so f**king homeless. But I was determined to create a home where I felt safe, so wherever I was, that was home. Only I couldn’t love myself unconditionally enough, so that didn’t quite work out.
That’s why I’m so hell-bent to build a home with YBW that’s just ours, not one he already had, not one with any of our kids in it. Just him and me, in the home we create. Where we’ll both feel safe and sound and loved and wanted.
This story has been in me for thirty two years.
This experience of sharing it has been upsetting me for the last couple days.
I’m feeling pathetic and needy. I’m wanting to be snuggly. I want to, as Grandaddy used to say, “crawl into a hole and pull the hole in after you”. Mostly I want reassurance that I’m lovable and not disposable. YBW’s on it.
I laid my head on him this morning, and he asked if I was OK.
No, I’m not remotely OK, I told him, but I feel better now.
Here’s what I know now.
If I hadn’t been sent to my father’s I wouldn’t have met my ex-husband, and while that may have been a bonus, I would not have my girls. And my girls are everything!
I wouldn’t have been in British Lit senior year of high school with a boy I took no notice of, but twenty years later took great notice of. So much so that six years later, we got hitched.
I wouldn’t have Sundance, or Sally. Don’t want to live with out them!
I might not have Jessica, or Nicole, or Becca in my world.
I know that I’m not the perfect mother, I know I’ve f**ked shit right up for my girls. But, I do know that I did everything in my power to make sure they felt loved. To make sure they felt safe. To make sure they could make their own choices.
It is my ultimate hope that they know I love them more than anything else. Ever. In the history of the world!
For me, however bad things were, I wanted them fiercely and I wanted them to know that.
I know that I’m flawed.
Jesus, by this time in my life, it’s simply part of my charm!
I know why I’m flawed. I know my responsibilities in my flaws. I know that these flaws make me the woman I am. And steaming hot mess or not, I’m full of love. I’m full of hope. It slips in and fills in the cracks from those long ago fractures. Love and hope make me a whole woman.
For how much more could I ask?