When I lay down for bed at night my mind is constantly reflecting. Often times my past, present, and future intersect as I enter in to a dream state and I’m able to think more philosophically about my life. It feels like I’m thinking on a more subconscious level where my emotions can’t tamper with how I really think about my version of reality. It’s in that moment that I’m conflicted with one of the hardest decisions I’ve made, severing my relationship with my mother.
As a mother who constantly aims to be the best mother I’m capable of being I wonder how my own mother could fail so miserably. I try to imagine how it must feel to know that all three of her children have ceased having a relationship with you. My heart breaks when I imagine how I would feel if my daughters one day did the same to me. I contemplate why she would have possibly made the decisions she did to drive us apart. There’s no logical explanation for her decisions because she’s mentally ill.
Most days I’m so far removed from any tangible emotion relating to my mother. I’ve long past the hatred, love, and apathy. I’m so far removed from the vortex that is her life that I no longer know that I made the right decision. Last night as I tried to sleep I thought of the day she gave me Mister Bear. The day before her departure to Japan she did a walkthrough of the airport. That was when I first saw him. It must have been close to Halloween because he was dressed up as a witch. It was love at first sight. I so badly wanted him but my mother told me no.
As we were saying our goodbyes, before she departed for Japan, she surprised with my beloved Mister Bear. My mother left for her 6 month business trip to Japan. Having no concept of time it wasn’t long before I thought my mother was gone forever. Mister Bear became my surrogate mother and clang to him with all my might. Even after she returned he and I were inseparable. I recall stuffing him in my backpack for my first day of school.
When his witch hat and cape fell of I distinctly remember tucking them in to the living room chair for safe keeping. Unfortunately for Mister Bear my mother didn’t find them worthy of being saved. But luckily for me Mister Bear survived the mass eradication of toys. You see my mother had decided to remarry after a very short courtship. Unfortunately the man she chooses to help raise her children was a monster. I won’t go in to great detail but my brother and I survived 3 years of physical and emotional abuse. When the hitting stopped “working” (meaning we quit crying out in pain) he resorted to more mental warfare. We would often come home from school to a room void of any of our toys. Yet somehow even this monster knew to leave me my beloved Mister Bear.
I used to sit in my window holding Mister Bear and dazing in to the stars. I would clutch him tightly and wish upon the stars for my prince charming to come and save me. Occasionally I would resort to praying to god but at an early age I accepted that if there were a god he wasn’t answering my prayers. I decided that my only chance for salvation would be a prince. (Thank you Disney /sarcasm) My prince never came and the nights continued to be a hellish time for me.
Every morning my brother and I would walk to my mother’s room to show her our bruises and whelps. She would ask what we did to deserve such a punishment, kiss us and send us on our way. I later found out that she was taking sedatives so that she wouldn’t have to witness the abuse at night. If she never heard our screams she could easily turn a blind eye to our bruises.
Mister Bear was my constant; he was in hindsight my prince charming. Eventually my mother did leave our monster and we tried to start anew. Unfortunately instead of getting her children help for the trauma; my mother took it upon herself to diagnose us both with bipolar disorder. Her psychiatrist’s wife just so happened to have a clinic for children and of course agreed with my mother’s assessment. We were both force feed anti psychotics that numbed us from the world. I slowly became addicted to sedatives as sleeping was easier than dealing with reality.
It took a great deal of effort for me to overcome the series of bad choices I made from that point forward. Because I never learned how to deal with my abandonment and abuse issues I myself became a monster. That might be a bit dramatic but it summarizes me nicely between the ages of 12-15. Luckily for me I did finally get the help I needed. I slowly pried myself out from under the thumb of my delusional mother and gained my own independence.
I decided at 17 to move out and attempt to become self sufficient. I failed miserably, but that’s a story for another day. My relationship with my mother finally hit a head when I was about 20. It was at that time that she revealed that she and the monster had rekindled their flame and were to be remarried. I gave her an ultimatum me or him. She chose him for the 2nd time in my life and I was devastated. I didn’t speak to her for months but somehow I conceded and let her back in my life.
One of the most painful experiences was about to unfold as I reached out to my mother for financial support. I was a new mother and money was tight. The breaks on my car were going out and the repair was going to consume my entire savings. As a new mother I knew I needed the savings for emergencies. I called my mother and asked if she could loan me half of the repair bill so that I could maintain some emergency funds. She originally agreed but advised me that she would have to make sure the monster was okay with such a large loan. I will never forget what she said when she called back. She was unable to loan me the money until I admitted to her and the monster that my allegations against him were false. If I didn’t admit that I had made up the entire story she would be unable to loan me a penny.
Here I am in the middle of Budget Breaks balling hysterically on the phone. I wasn’t concerned about being embarrassed. The flood gates had opened and there was no stopping them. I paid my entire bill on my own and that was the last time I ever reached out to my mother for any form of support. I wish I could say that was when I ended the relationship but it wasn’t. I kept fighting for our relationship for several more years.
I don’t want to get in to great detail but over the next few years my mother spun out of control. She was institutionalized many times. I would receive phone calls from her that she was dying of cancer or some other ailment. If she wasn’t calling me because she was dying the hospitals were calling me because she was being admitted and they didn’t know what to do with her. She would physician hop every time they found out she was a hypochondriac and would refuse to treat her made up illnesses. It was a really long few years before I finally called her psychiatrist. I asked him if she was self aware enough to be doing these awful things on purpose. He said he didn’t know and that there was no way to know if she knew the difference between realities or was just so malicious that she did these things intentionally for attention.
It was at that point that I could not take it anymore. I abandoned her and our relationship. I occasionally let her have supervised visits with her grandchildren but only when she’s not “sick”. She seems to have accepted that I want nothing to do with her illness so I’ve not been contacted by doctors or hospitals in while.
My fiancé will ask me how I will feel when she dies. To which I reply, “I already mourned the loss of my mother. I don’t know how I will feel when she dies.” When I lay at bed at night reflecting on these memories I see Mister Bear and the inner child in me still cries. I may have accepted that I cannot have a conventional mother but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Behind the walls there is still a sad girl clutching her bear. The question I don’t have an answer for is “can I emotionally support her when she needs me?” She’s obviously ill and I imagine how painful it must be to be alone and know none of your children want you in their lives.
Having fought depression for years I fear that one day I will drive a stake between myself and those I love. I wonder if I would teach my daughter’s enough morality to put aside their anger towards me to help me in my time of need. Am I now strong enough to endure the turmoil that comes with having a mentally ill mother? Or am I so fragile that I must protect myself from her? What is best for me? I don’t have the answer but I can no longer pretend that she’s not ill to make it easier for me to abandon her.
There was a time when I was an infant. She held me in her arms and dreamed of a lifetime of happiness. I can’t imagine that same woman willingly abandoned me. Perhaps it is time to do what she wasn’t capable of and fulfill the last few dreams she had.
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