I have spent a lot of time in therapy working on the issues surrounding the sexual abuse I was subjected to by my father. What he did is pretty clear cut. It was wrong. It was horrible. No one could (or should) ever think of saying what he did wasn’t wrong.
A bigger, more insidious issue, however, is my mother. She looks like a good person. It is hard to point directly at her actions and say there is anything fishy going on, but if you look at the totality of the picture, she is almost as bad as my father.
Two weeks ago, my mother was in a pretty serious car accident. She was conscious after the accident, but we were hearing diagnoses of “broken spine.” To me, that means paralysis. In that moment, I truly wished that my mother would die. That seems harsh, but there was no way in hell I could take care of her and I did not wish that on my sister.
Broken spine translated to two cracked vertebrae. She would not be paralyzed, but would require a back brace for 8-12 weeks, which she could not put on by herself because she also broke her arm and a couple fingers. My sister lives closer, and is her medical power of attorney, so she agreed to bring Mom into her home and care for her.
There is no way I could have done that. None. It was hard enough for me to feed my mother jello in the hospital. She was totally defenseless. And while she is not a violent person, it was hard for me to see her like that, knowing how she can be.
I found out that I’m her financial power of attorney, and the next day, I went to work getting the information we would need and notifying all the necessary people. One of the first calls I made was to her car insurance agent, also a close friend from what mom told me. I called and told the woman my name and my mother’s name and what had happened. The woman got really quiet, then said, “Do you have a sister?” I said yes, I had a sister, and told the woman her name. The woman said she had HIPPA guidelines to follow, but then said my mother had never talked of another daughter. She had told the woman of my sister, but never mentioned me.
I was shocked, to say the least. I spent quite a bit of time feeling terrible over that. After talking to a friend of mine who knows my mother, he reminded me that she, just like my father, groomed people. It was not for the same purpose, but it was grooming, nonetheless.
I am not wealthy or tremendously successful in the typical way that society values, and my sister is no slouch either, but for my mother to talk about me, she has to tell people what I do. “My daughter writes about the sexual abuse she endured from her father, that I knew about.”
She says she did not know, and she is sorry. I told her, she did know. And when I told her, she admitted she thought something had been going on. He was prosecuted, not so much for what he did to me, but he went to prison. This was not a case in which I never said anything. I told lots of people, my mother was just the first in line.
She was too scared, too in love, too worried about what others would think, too whatever to do anything.
So, now, after 30 years since the start of my abuse and telling, she says she is sorry and she did the best she could. In the present, though, she isn’t sorry enough to tell people she has two daughters.
You’re right mom. You are sorry. Not for your actions, but you are just generally a sorry person.