So here it is: Mother’s Day. No one in my house has wished me a happy Mother’s Day. No one even remembers it’s Mother’s Day. As much as I love my husband, he doesn’t remember days like this without big reminders. I’m feeling like it’s not my job to remind him today. And my son is pretty oblivious to anything today but his own needs.
You see, the commercial Mother’s Day is filled with images of a loving and doting mother who cherishes her children. They show her being put together, able to handle anything thrown her way, and having children who are wired “normally.” They show image of happy families honoring their matriarch; the mother and grandmother.
What they don’t show are all the mothers out there who are damaged. The mothers who were abused, who are emotionally unstable, or who are mentally ill. Both my (now deceased) mother and I fit into this latter category. My mother was both emotionally damaged by her mother, and was mentally ill: bipolar. Her mental illness wasn’t medicated until she became so manic that she completely lost touch with reality and was put into a mental hospital. By this time I was in 10th or 11th grade. The damage had been done. Her psychiatrist, who was later sued in a class action lawsuit, knew she was bipolar, but thought he could psychoanalyze it out of her. He would also string along clients in an effort to drain more money from their pocketbooks. He should be shot.
I grew up in a household where I was not emotionally supported, loved, and cherished. I was verbally assaulted when my mother was manic, slicing me with her words, and abandoned by her when she was depressed. I was not the only one affected by my mother. My older brother was also damaged by our mother. His damage left him feeling powerless. He came into the world with less than stellar wiring in his head, so his damage not only left him feeling powerless, it let him think that inappropriate sexual touch was how to show love. His moral compass developed with a major deviation. Mom was sexually inappropriate with him on more than one occasion. It affected him deeply and he doesn’t even know it.
As far as I can tell, my younger brother seems to have made it out without too much damage. Thank God.
Growing up with my older brother, there was a relationship dynamic of controller/ controlee, predator/ prey. He dominated me emotionally and physically. When we were little, he figured out that his little sister would do what he wanted, because she sought validation. She didn’t get it from her mother, and she hoped her older brother would be that for her. Instead, I let myself be controlled by him, doing things that, in my gut felt wrong, but I so desperately needed the validation. He relished the feeling of control. It made him feel powerful and ok within himself. The moral compass that holds most people back, had deviated enough that he could neither feel nor hear it’s messages.
Eventually, when my brother’s hormones raged, he came to me to both control and to satisfy his urges. Maybe there was a part of him that thought it was loving as well. All I know is he violated me, he controlled me by making me believe that if I told anyone, I would get in trouble. Me. He molested me, raped me, and eventually impregnated me. After the big secret came out, the wall of even bigger shame and secrecy fell. Bigger that the great wall of China.
My being pregnant was a horrible shame on the family. I had shamed the family for being pregnant. This secret must never come out. My father was terrified that if it came out, he would lose all business and we would end up ostracized, homeless, and living on the street. Of course, that never would have happened. But that’s the way my father reacted. He swore us all to secrecy.
My mother went along. We all went along. How was my being molested handled? Poorly. So, on top of being ashamed that I let my brother control, dominate and rape me, I was now ashamed that I was pregnant and had shamed my entire family. How fucked up is that?
It just so happens that I was able to hide my pregnancy until the end of the school year (freshman year of high school), when I entered a home for unwed mothers. Lies were created so people thought I went off to summer camp for the whole summer. I delivered my daughter 2 weeks into the school year, took a week to recover, and returned home and to school, as if nothing had happened (other than another lie of my coming down with an illness at the end of camp, keeping me away from home for a few more weeks). So, no one found out about our shameful, dirty secret, which I was now integrally a part of. Six weeks later, I signed away all rights to my daughter, giving her up for adoption.
With the healing work I’ve been doing recently, memories of old wounding are coming up. My mind was a champ at blocking out years of bad memories, but it’s safe for them to resurface and be healed. Because of that, thinking about Mother’s Day today is extremely emotionally charged for me. I didn’t know my grandmothers, and I didn’t have a close relationship with either of my 2 aunts. There is no matriarch in my family for me to look up to with memories of being cherished by them.
Even my own experience of being a mother has included depression and personal struggle while raising a special needs child with his own daily issues. It has been a long and difficult road.
So, today is Mother’s Day. If I see one more thing on Facebook about how wonderful someone’s mother is, or how much someone is missing their dead mother, I think I’m going to scream. I’m glad their mother is or was a saint. They need to know that there are plenty of mothers out there who were or are nightmares, or who are struggling to not be a nightmare themselves.