ABOUT MY MOM
My mom passed away 12 years ago this February.
- •She was a cipher & remains a cipher.I know very, very little about her upbringing & childhood. Her mother suffers from some form of mental illness (not specified but have heard it described as schizophrenia once or twice). My grandmother is still alive & began writing me letters last year. She has not mentioned much about my mother's childhood-- she & my grandfather divorced when my mom was 3, & was in hospitals for treatment. My uncles won't talk about their childhood either.
- •She was talented.Demonstrated artistic abilities from a young age. The only real glimpse I've had into her life was through her high school sketchbooks. She drew her classmates all day. Very proficient in French, and later learned to speak Danish fluently. Could also speak a bit of German & started studying modern Greek before she became ill.
- •She was very controlling & judgmental.Any trip out of the house would culminate in a tirade about what other people were wearing and/or doing. I was given ridiculous ultimatums as a child & young teenager: never think about sex while I'm still living at home, not grow up & become "less child-like", never breakaway from her & stop holding her hand in public... If I asked what a word meant or mispronounced a word inappropriately, I was interrogated about where I learned it & she would explain it crudely in a way that wasn't suitable.
- •She was not comforting.When I cried she would just get exasperated. If she tried to comfort me verbally, she would end up talking about herself mostly. I was either not affectionate enough or being "cloying". Usually she told me that I was hypersensitive. When I dealt with my verbally abusive 4th grade teacher, she took the teacher's side, agreeing that I was "high strung" (clearly I was the problem, crying daily due to being yelled at for no discernible reason-- the teacher bragged about me to her other class!).
- •She thought she owned my body.One of my earliest memories of my mom is her pulling down my underwear so the neighbor boy could understand what female genitalia looked like. This was done with no warning or explanation & I was chastised for flailing about & trying to resist. As a teen she once walked in on me in the bathroom on purpose (I was never allowed to lock any door; my bedroom door was not to be closed at any time) & when I exclaimed in surprise/annoyance she hit me with a hairbrush.
- •She would never let me disagree with her.About anything. I was not allowed to like colors she disliked or music or movies or people. It's taken me a very long time to accept that I have different taste, that my friends can have different tastes. That it's ok to like a few Billy Joel songs or Ethiopian food.
- •She was always suspicious of me.She would read through books that friends gave me & confiscate them if there was anything "inappropriate". I had once taken a back issue of a magazine to use as part of an art project & had left it open to an advertisement for "Six Feet Under". I was accused of being morbid & suicidal & treated to a massive guilt trip about how good I had it at home. I was 10. She was always snooping through my room, even in elementary school. She told me I wasn't allowed to have secrets or keep a diary.
- •She would threaten me.Not so much physically, but I was told regularly that if I broke certain rules I would be kicked out of the house. Later on, I applied & was accepted to a magnate high school... she would tell me that she would remove me & send me to the big high school any time she disliked my behavior or tone of voice or facial expression.
- •She would guilt trip me.About absolutely everything. My dad would join in for this game. Food & shelter & clothing, especially. As a child I accepted this as normal & reasonable. As an adult with no dependents, this makes no sense. If you resent having to provide basic necessities why bother having children at all? I still have to provide shelter & food for myself. If she had bought me anything recently & I did something to annoy her, she would point that out & call me an ingrate. That was her favorite insult.
- •I don't miss her.I doubt she would have allowed me to go on birth control at 16 to regulate my horrible menstrual cycle-- which she was well aware of & never suggested medical intervention. Same goes for my digestive issues, I was always blamed or told that I was being "dramatic" & "attention seeking". I guarantee that she would have discouraged me from applying to or attending a "fancy" college. My life would be considerably smaller & narrower today. Her only dreams for my future were marriage & motherhood.