Today, folks, we're going to deal with childhoods.
Was yours awesome? Nothing to complain about? A bit depressing? Abusive? Or somewhere in between one of those? Or maybe something else all together entirely?
Well, through my many years of therapy, mine has been described as abusive. Less so physically, but more mentally and emotionally. I tend to look at it like this, "Well, at least she wasn't beating the shit out of me every night.".
And yes, I said she. My mother... How so I begin to describe what my mother is without describing who she was? None of us have that kind of time. I'm also not really interested in reliving the emotional drama that came along with having her as a mother. I've moved past it. I'm mostly over it. I bear little grudge and/or chip on my shoulder.
I will touch on a few points, because friends, it all leads into a greater point. I believe she is undiagnosed Bipolar 1. When she would get angry she would do everything from break things to slap me. I would never know what mood she was going to wake up in. You get used to living in a constant game of "Watch What Happens Next". I spent a majority of my childhood grounded for extensive periods of time for infractions such as talking back. Which caused me to lie about things. Which caused me to get caught lying. Which caused more grounding, physical and emotional punishment. My mother would get in fights with my father about who's turn it was to buy groceries and weeks would go buy without anyone buying food- Which resulted in snacks of toast and ranch dressing. (For some reason, there was always plenty of both.) There would be stand offs about everything from who's going to mop the floor in the kitchen after someone spilled a pitcher of Koolaid (Eventually one of the kids did it after a week) to who was going to do the dishes after mom decided the best place to do the dishes was in the bathtub, had a manic crash and we took showers with plates, silverware, peas and scraps of steak for at least one evening.
About 16, I stopped giving a shit and just did what I wanted. I met Dave. He saved me from myself. He gave me something to care about instead of finding the next guy to sleep with or more ways to piss my mother off.
Now, from what I can gather after I was kicked/moved out at 18, my mom has been calmer, a bit more thought out, and had more proportional responses to perceived injustices by my father. (Again, a dynamic that would take to much time to cover fully. Let's just say, he makes more money than she does at Pizza Hut. He's a saver, she's a spender, and when he doesn't give her everything she wants, that makes Hulk Angry.) They will go months without speaking to each other, and then she'll calm down and they will be fine until something new happens that he doesn't take her side, he doesn't give her money or she gets 15k in liens against the home, and they stop speaking again. (Public Record, friends.)
Now, in total, she has 4 grand kids. G, L, my niece P, and S. P and S are almost a year apart.
I have gotten one apology out of my mother for the way she treated me
when we were younger. It was right after S was born. Completely out of
the blue and never to be repeated. "If I had known then what I know now,
I would have taken my medication like I should have. I'm sorry.".
What do you say to that? Find a therapist and a new set of medications,
because clearly, you're still bat shit nuts? Stop taking your Prozac
until it starts working and then stop because you think you're better
and don't need it anymore? SHIT DOESN'T WORK LIKE THAT!!!
So now that all the pieces of this puzzle are in place, we had an event this weekend. My mother and my sister got into a fight. My mother was bad mouthing my father to her again because he didn't give her money. My sister told her to grow up and stop bad mouthing our father. My sister left. My mother broke dishware in and outside the house... And possibly her toe.
My father calls me? to ask me about S's birthday gift and then begins to tell me about the scene he came home to- "Nichole, it looked like someone had a snowball fight with coffee cups in the driveway and in the diningroom.". My father isn't one for hyperbole. He's also not one to call and tell me about my mother's latest fiasco. He's also not one to sit on the phone with me for 45 minutes, learning of things about my childhood that he never knew.
About how, when I was 9 and my mom was mad at my dad, my mother came into my bedroom and told me that the only reason that they got married was because she got pregnant with me and I was the reason her life was ruined. Or how she got mad at me because I wasn't cleaning my room fast enough and she cleared off my desk with one arm, then stepped on my glasses and refused to replace them- Making me absolutely blind for 5th grade. Or no, Dad, she really did throw my things out the window into the trashcan in the driveway and scream at me that I didn't live there anymore and to get out because when she asked me who I was talking to on my cell phone and I told her it was Dave. The cell phone I bought and paid for with my 2 full time jobs that I had to work because she refused to buy me things like... Shampoo and tampons.
Now, I know that my mother is stressed about her "kids leaving her" and my brother's custody battle to the death with his ex cunt... But when do you draw the line and say, "Enough is enough. I have to protect my kids from what you did to me when I was a child?". Because, as smart, funny, and lovable as those boys are- They aren't me when it comes to emotional strength. They aren't their daddy. They've been taught that their feelings are ok, irregardless of what they are. They aren't forced to hide them until it almost eats them alive.
When does it become ok to tell your mother, your kids "loved" grandmother that she isn't going to see her grand kids again until she gets a mental health evaluation and is stable? Is it ok to tell her that you're afraid for your special needs toddler, simply because you have no idea how she's going to respond to him at any given day? Is it ok to outright tell your mother that you don't trust her with your children at the present moment?
I say loved, because at 7 and 9, L and G are very aware that Grandma isn't all there. That they are unsure of how to deal with her when they are there by themselves because they don't know what mood she is going to be in. About how she "mega yells" at them for things they didn't know they weren't supposed to do while Grandpa is gone, but is always very quick to apologize.
Is it ok now? Is it ok to unfurl this fireball of hell towards my father and siblings, simply because I live the farthest and can ignore it? Is it ok to do everything in my power to make sure that the fucked up dynamic that I survived, but just barely sometimes, doesn't affect my kids any more than it already has? That my children don't ever have to worry that Grandma is having a bad day and they need to hide out in the basement because mommy made the mistake of letting them spend the week at Grandma and Grandpa's house? Is it ok that even though I want them to be real, functioning people with common sense and a bit worldly, I don't want them to get it the same way I was forced to get it?
Or is it, like it's going to seem to the irrational mind, that I'm just holding her grand kids over head until she does what I want her to do?... Not that I want her to get help for ALL her 4 children and 4 grandchildren?
G said it best. "Mom. Why is it that I have to go to a therapist for my anger issues, but she doesn't? Why do you and Dad choose to go for your crazy problems, but your parents won't?".
Why is my desire to fix her so strong? After everything she's put me through, even now, why do I still desire some sort of functional relationship with her? I'm almost 30. I've had a functioning mom for less than half those years- I should be used to NOT having one...
But why is her denial of her mental health issues going to be the thing that shatters me... When I am so much stronger, smarter, and clearheaded than she'll ever be?
Why am I, as an adult, letting someone's medication use become my downfall?