I suppose this is going to take me a while to write. I want to talk about my mom. I want to talk about myself. I need to share.
I grew up in a home that at first pass might pass the sniff test. Now, as an adult, returning to visit, I realize something stinks.
I was never comforted by my mother. I have no memories of thinking, even as a child, “I need help/I hurt/I am sad… I should find my mom.” What six year old writes a letter to her mom saying, “I am sorry to have burdened you, I know you don’t love me and I will leave” and then just walks down the road as far as she can until, she is so afraid of being more trouble for having left, she runs home, pees her pants along the way. Retrieves the letter from her mom’s vanity. It’s been only three or four hours. No one knew she was missing. She tells her mom she is sorry and hopes she knows she is hollow with guilt for being a burden. “I know I am always guilty mom, even if I don’t know what I did. I am always guilty.”
My mother is mentally ill. Depending on the year and the shrink, she has depression, a bipolar disorder, multiple personalities, anxiety issues… you name it, someone has treated her for it. She is also bulimic and an alcoholic. No one ever acknowledged these issues to me or my brother until my parents were getting a divorce when I was 17. My father had always been the lightning rod, attempting to divert or distract or come between my mom and us kids. I never knew anything different.
She had all these rules for us. Do you remember when Jacob Wetterling went missing? I do. That was one of those events that triggered something in her. The paranoia took hold. We had code words for emergencies… code words for normal life. If someone wanted to come in the front door of our house, they had to say “breakfast sausage” even if it was a member of our family. We weren’t allowed to have play dates with other kids. My mom’s logic was that we should be friends, and so we shouldn’t need anyone else. She wasn’t going to cater to the social needs of a child, she had better things to do.