When I was a tot, before my mother married her fifth husband, Dennis (now referred to as The Beast), she was a self-proclaimed “wild woman”. She enjoyed herself, she enjoyed men (thoroughly), especially men in the United States Marine Corp (semper fi).
She and her friend Jane were well known in Long Beach California, for their partying and raucous ways – but perhaps mostly for the ever-present matching sweatshirts that said “Well Howdy Hi There” on the front and “Black Russian Time” on the back. In truth, they didn’t want to waste time with formalities, they wanted to get straight to the “fun”.
This was the late 60s, early 70s – and I guess my mother could be construed as a revolutionary fighter in the sexual revolution. Truth be told, she worked hard, and was raising two kids as a single mother – I suppose she deserved some fun.
I was so young, that this “time” in my life could be better described – or more accurately described by my older brother, David. Being 8 years older than I, he endured so much more of my mother’s wrath and abuse at the time. I cannot know or even fathom the abuse that was visited on him. He was, and remains, my hero. I know there were many times he stood between her and I, and took the brunt of the beatings.
She was an enigma, outwardly seeming the “perfect mother”, with “well-behaved” children, a hard worker (she was) and “put together”. But privately, she was controlling, spiteful, abusive both physically and emotionally, and, I would posit, in a great deal of emotional pain. But this is no excuse for her actions, simply an acknowledgement of the truth.
I have spent the better part of my adult life trying to repair the damage done by my childhood – with the last six years focused on my relationship with my mother. In 2005, I brought my ill and elderly mother to live with me. I sometimes still question the sanity of that decision. I have to compartmentalize my life, to a point, to do it successfully. Basically, I began our relationship then, in 2005, having buried the past during therapy, after years of cutting her off from my life.
She is too frail to do an physical harm, and I must remain strong to disallow her the ability to do any further emotional harm – on the contrary – I seek healing. She is still incapable of recognizing or acknowledging the past, she lives in a bubble, an alternate reality she has woven around herself. But I know the truth. Others know the truth, and in actively loving her, and actively loving my family in a healthy and non-abusive way, I am healing.
I refuse to pay the abuse forward, to use “I was a victim of abuse” as an excuse to visit the sins of the father on my children. I AM A SURVIVOR! and there is more power in the difference than you can possibly know.
There are hard days. There are good days. I am growing and learning. I am healing.