Wednesday, July 28, 2010

First Love

Posted by Anonymous.

In a few hours midnight will come and I will slip down the hall to his room and lean over his sleeping form -so big!- and speak my love in whispers, in my mind, in my heart which needs no language. He will not wake, but I will imagine that his heart will hear.

He is my first love, love that wrenched my soul. How often have I read the blogs of other women who struggle to keep their identities underneath this crushing, precious wave of love? How often have I struggled with that myself, wondered if all I was, all I would ever be, was defined by those I love? Isn't that who he turned me into, seven years (almost!) ago? What identity did I have to keep, anyway? I wasn't a teenager when he was born, but not long from it. I was just beginning to emerge from that shell of daughter, sister into a fragile, barely-formed Me when he came, shattering all that, forever branding me mother.

It almost wasn't so. I tried to dial the number to the clinic, phone in my hand, frozen by the burden of choice. It's for the best, my friend told me. We can't do this, we're not ready. This from the father, though my mind shied away from words like father and baby. Did I know then? Did I understand on some level how a child changes you, dominates mind and heart and soul, turns you into someone you don't recognize? I could stop it. Dial the number, make the appointment, go and stay myself. Become myself on my own terms.

I can't. Tears pouring down my face, voice barely a whisper. Be rational. they said. Be practical, think about this. This will ruin your life, our lives. I couldn't be rational or practical, I couldn't think. All I had was that bone-deep certainty. I can't. Where did that come from? From him, that tiny clump of cells I couldn't wrap my mind around? From myself? Had I already changed?

I became someone. Loving him, I learned to choose wisely whom else to love. In protecting him, I learned to be brave. In failing him, I learned how to forgive, myself and my parents and others. Wondering how to teach him, I learned what I believed in. In imagining the kind of man I hoped he would be, I found a man who would cherish both him and me.

I've had more children. Even as I write this, I feel the fierce kicks of another who will both fill my heart and break it. But it started with him, my first love.

He made me a mother. But he also made me Me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Letter To Me

Posted by Connie.

To Me, present and future...

I've been trying to figure out the best way to write this blog, but I can't figure it out, so if it sounds more like a rant and less like a well-composed intelligent thought, thats why.

In my life, I have always had a problem. What is that problem you ask? Well, to put it simply, I give people too many chances. I always lived my life believing that no matter what, people had GOOD somewhere in them, and that everyone deserved the opportunity to show that. So, when someone hurt me, I would let them go for a little while, only to let them back in the minute they came back around. I always thought that I was doing a good thing, but in reality, I was only hurting myself more. It was like I was telling myself that I didn't deserve to be treated right the first time, and that it was OK for me to accept only second best. In the last year, I have made alot of changes in that department. I have let go of alot of people who really just weren't good for me. It was hard, but I did it, knowing that the people that I still have care enough about me to make up for that absence. I have done this successfully with one exception: my mother. As (more than one person) pointed out to me, it's like I am a drug addict. No matter how crappy she makes me feel about myself, my life, and the people who love me, I keep going back for that "momentary high" that I get when she gives me even an ounce of praise. The problem I have come to realize is that its all an illusion. That praise is given with strings attached; with conditions. If I don't fulfill those conditions, it comes back ten-fold in the form of insults, hatred, and just plain meanness. No matter what, though, I always went back. Not only did this hurt me, this hurt the people around me who were finally starting to trust and care about me. This ONE relationship was tearing down all of my other ones. Not anymore.

The purpose of this blog is mostly for me. In the case that I couldnt get a hold of someone like J, M, or K in a weak moment, I can read this to remind myself why I left in the first place. Some of you might wonder "Is it really that bad?" The answer is yes, and so much worse. It would take a lifetime to detail the 22 years of hurt that has been laid upon me; for now, I will use this blog to remind myself of the ones that stick out the most.

When I was 8 years old, my mom took me and my brother to a 60s dance at the elementary school. Back then, I had a "boyfriend" named chris; he was my "boyfriend" because we were 8 and we sat next to each other in school for 3 years, LOL, and he invited me to his birthday party and told his mom I was his girlfriend. Anyway, at the dance, my mom was being a spoilsport, I remember, and I started dancing with Chris' mom. Apparently, this made my mother feel very jealous, and at the end of the night she told me that everyone probably thought that Chris' mom was really my mom because we were both so fat.

I have never been a skinny person. I have always been overweight. Don't worry though, because I never forgot that either. My mother made sure of that. She can say that it was "because she cared" all she wants to, but there is caring, and then there is purposely making someone feel bad about themselves. When I was 10 years old, I couldnt find an outfit to wear to church with my friend. I was upset about this, I remember, and instead of comforting me, my mother told me that "If I wasn't such a damn whale, I would be able to find something to wear". Thats hurtful at any age; imagine what it does when you are 10.

All throughout middle school and high school, I was terrified of getting bad grades. My mother actually thinks this is a good thing, like well at least you would never bring a bad grade home, but I on the other hand, know differently. Yes, I liked to get good grades, and yes I was a good student, but anytime I even brought home a bad progress report or report card (and when I say bad, I mean I got one C out of an entire semester), my mother would lay into me in her passive aggressive way. "Oh sure, a C is fine. A C means average, so as long as you are OK with being AVERAGE than thats great."

While I was living at home with my mother, after highschool and during college, I was working part time, sometimes full time, and going to school full time, commuting even, so my days were long and I never really had a break. I will admit it, when I got home, I was exhausted, completely, and all I really wanted to do was be able to enjoy what little time I did have open by spending it with my friends and, when the time came, my boyfriend. My mom got mad at me because I didnt help to clean up around the house enough. I wouldnt vacuum, I wouldnt do the dishes, trust me if u asked her the list would go on and on. I am not denying that I didnt do much housework, I didnt. It was not because I was lazy, however, it was because I was SO DAMN BUSY. At that point, my mother wasnt even working. SO basically, she stayed home all day and never did anything except play on her computer, yet when Kayla got home from school, I got home, or Marty got home, all from very long days, WE were supposed to do all of the work. Once in a while is fine, ALWAYS is just ridiculous. My mother had the nerve to tell me that having me in the house was like living with an extremely rude roommate. Why? Because I didn't clean up a mess that I didnt make? I barely ate at home, barely spent my time there, and when I was there she was also making me feel like crap. This went on for years and years and that feeling that she made me feel, that I was basically garbage, will never go away.

This one is a sensitive topic, but one of the BEST ways to remind myself just why its best for me to stay away. When I FINALLY confessed to my mother that my brother had molested me for 9 years, she barely batted an eyelash. She gave the standard "oh really, im sorry" blah blah excuse, but she NEVER wanted to talk about it. Talking about it is what I really needed, and she just wouldnt. Even worse, after I told her this, she was still going out of her way to communicate with him, making sure he was ok wherever he was at, not making stupid decisions, worried when he started acting crazy, etc etc. And she would ask me about him and if I had heard from him, no matter how many times I told her I didnt want to hear about him at all. I remember crying on the phone with my friend while I was at work after my mom had called me and freaked out about Bobby. I was so upset that she just didnt seem to care about what I was feeling. I understand that Bobby is her kid and she will always worry. What I didn't understand was why she had to act like she was SO concerned with him, so worried about him, when she never acted that way towards me. I felt like no matter what, I would always just not be good enough for her.

And finally, the most recent BIG THING I guess, even though there are thousands of others. In February, I had to have emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder. And by emergency, I mean ambulanced out of work during a 3 foot snow storm emergency. James drove from Fairfax to Woodbridge in his truck with horrible traction, in the snow, to be by my side. He was there with me for 9 hrs, and drove me to CVS after, got my prescriptions, drove me home, etc etc. He was there taking care of me and making sure I was ok the WHOLE time. The next day, I called my mom. I was upset because I did not have insurance, and the surgeons deposit was going to cost me 1500. I didnt have this; I wasnt using my credit cards and I didnt have any in savings. I didnt want to, but I asked my mother for help. Yes, she helped me out and for that I am very thankful, but it didnt come without cost. First, she told me that this was all my fault; that it was from the way I lived my life. Then, when I told her that I might need her to drive me to the hospital on the day of my surgery because James wasn't sure he would be able to get the day off, she insulted him and made me feel bad at the same time. She said, and I quote "What good is it to have a boyfriend who lives near you if he can't take care of you?". Im sorry, but what a horrible fucking thing to say to your daughter. My boyfriend had spent the last 9 hrs in the ER with me, by my side, holding my hand, etc. SHE didnt even come to the ER. (And by the way, James took off work and took me to the surgery, my mother never even came.) Jean, (the lady I live with) drove me to the pre-op appt. So yes, my mother gave me her money. I guess that meant she didnt have to give her time.

Like I said, this probably didn't sound like the most put together thing in the whole world, but I felt the need to get it out of me, to put it in writing so that I would be able to come back to it. There are people in my life that care about me; people who are GOOD for me. Its unfortunate that my mother isnt one of them, but at this point, it doesnt even matter. I just need to remember to call them first.

Ce La Vie

Monday, July 05, 2010

To My Mother

Posted by Anonymous.

Mother’s Day was filled with Facebook statuses and blog posts about the joy of Motherhood. Most also included special sentiments about the author’s relationship with her own mother, and each time I read one, I scowled like a child.

Let’s face it- you were absent for most, if not all, of my childhood. Yes Mom, I realize
you were always there, in the house. Always commenting about laundry and about how
I will need to tell people about all you do when I get older. Always there, drinking out of glass bottles, because “drinking out of cans is low class.” Always there, locked in your room, smoking marijuana because it helped you to “be creative”. Always there, because you never left the house except for a short walk across the street to buy cigarettes.

The excuses I would make for you were varied and creative- you had seasonal affective
disorder or that you were bipolar (because these had come up on television, and that
seemed to fit at times). You couldn’t come to my concerts because you were afraid of
crowds. You couldn’t come to my younger brothers’ Open Houses at school because you
were sick (an excuse used so often that teachers barely blinked at a 14 year-old showing
up to collect her brother’s special projects). You missed soccer practices and baseball
games. But as I recall, you never missed a nap. Should we happen to wake you up from
one, we knew to run and hide.

As I got older, I was willing to blame the alcohol. It was alcohol that you brought with
you, practically kicking and screaming, to my little brother’s wedding that you tried so
hard to get out of. It was a six pack that you cracked open within 20 minutes of meeting
my daughter, you first grandchild, that you refused to hold as you cradled you can of
Natural Ice (now long past the need for elegant bottles). If you could just get sober, then you could be the mother I wanted, the mother I longed for, the fictional mother, who at the very least could teach me how to apply make-up and could give me advice as three months of colic with my second child wore on and on.

But Mom, you’ve been surprisingly sober for three years, and still that mother has yet to
make an appearance. In fact, in a fun twist of events, after 1 year of sobriety that we as a family had fought so hard for, you left my ever forgiving father for a woman you met on the internet (“Oh please, it’s not a big deal. It’s been on Oprah.”). Suddenly you can drive on I-95, where you were too scared to do it before, thus missing my graduation for my Master’s degree. Suddenly you can fly- but only to Arizona with your girlfriend… not to NY to see your third grandchild.

I go for weeks without hearing from you. It’s like a game. How many days will go
by before you realize you haven’t heard from me, and you can rush to the phone and
apologize? Only you never do, because I give up and call you around day 14. And
your conversations always revolve around how this world has done you wrong; how
much you actually hate your girlfriend; how much you hate having to take care of my
grandmother as she slips deeper into dementia. How much you wish my father would
take you back. How bitter you are that my brother doesn’t speak to you and how it is his fault because obviously it is a “lesbian thing.” (For the record, he wasn’t speaking to you for 6 months before your coming out, but you didn’t notice.) How you are going to call J.G. Wentworth and fight for the rest of your divorce settlement because you and your dogs can’t stand living with my grandparents one more day. And I let you talk, because I don’t know what else to do.

This weekend, for Mother’s Day, we came out to the house to have Mother’s Day
with you and Nana. We ripped out weeds in the garden as you talked away on your
cell phone, upstairs away from your daughter and grandchildren. We planted flowers
while you puffed like a chimney on the back porch. We went out to lunch while you
drove to the Comcast building to replace your cable box, which apparently could
only be done right at that moment. We had a great time with Nana, who is more of a
grandmother to my daughters than you will ever be, but that doesn’t seem to bother you.

So yesterday I struggled with whether or not to call you on Mother’s Day. I had come to the firm resolution that I would not, since I seem to mean so little to you. But in the late afternoon, I wavered, holding out still for that mother who may just show up one of these days. And I called that cell phone that never leaves your side for a second. And it rang and rang. I left a message. You have yet to call back.

So thanks Mom, for the blank slate you have given me on this journey into motherhood. Thanks for the advice you never offer. Thanks for giving me a clear path to make my own mistakes and the resolve to never repeat yours. I may not know how to be a mom, but I know how not to be one. My life is dedicated to being the best mother to my daughters that I can be, if only because I know how hard it is to find a Mother’s Day card that does not include any “great mom!” or “loving” sentiments. They deserve more than that, and so do I.

Friday, July 02, 2010

So Mom Is Dying And You Are Not

Posted by Anonymous.

My mother is dying. Slowly, but perceptibly. Fading out, like a blurry xerox, her features sinking inward and melting toward one another. And for the 9 months this has been happening, I have wished it were you, Daddy.

Because Daddy, she showed up. She was there for every lost tooth, every prom, every school play, every nightmare, every spilled juice, every outgrown shoe. It wasn't pretty. She yelled. She was so tired she fell into bed every night. She wasn't good at comforting me. But she was always there, like a rock, a tired, jagged, sometimes cold, but always firmly and absolutely present rock. And you? You missed it all. You were drinking, and then trying not to drink, and then piecing together the ravages of a self from what was left after you stopped drinking, and then you floated off into some kind of oblivion I still don't understand. I played the part you needed me to play: loving and uncomprehending little girl, forgiving adult. But when the diagnosis came in, when they told us what it was and we realized what it meant, all I could do was hate that it wasn't you. Because when she is gone, I will be an orphan. Only you won't know it, and I will have to go through the motions of comforting you about the fact that there's really nothing you can do for me anymore, make up things for you to do so you can feel like a dad after missing it all in the first place.

Mom and I, we had plans. She had bought a house. She was going to move near me, be a grandma, see my kid grow up, be there for her. For the lost teeth and the outgrown shoes and the school plays. That's all gone up in -- not a a puff of smoke, but a steady stream of twisted cells multiplying silently. So she'll go, and my kid won't remember her, and we'll have a photo or two of you, the grandpa she's hardly met, and at some point I will say to her, it's OK, honey, I hardly met him either. But your grandma? She loved you to pieces. She was there when you were born and she held you and rocked you and did your laundry and laughed with me about how stupid cloth diapers were, and she bought you your first clothes and your swim lessons and all your shoes till she died, and she put money away for college. She loved you. She was there for you. She hated not being able to see you grow up more than anything.

And Daddy, you'll never know any of us.