Beauty on the Outside
My Mother was a beautiful and charming woman. However, many people would have been surprised to know what went on at our house. Her parenting ranged from neglectful, leaving me to care for myself from the age of three, to abusive, both physically and emotionally. Like all children, I thought it was my fault, that I was a “bad” kid, and that I should have never been born. I took refuge in books and my art, quiet activities that wouldn't make her angry by making noise. It didn't matter if I got straight A's and was in a gifted program; I was in a growing state of misery and belief that I was worthless. By the time I was in 7th grade, I was suicidal. After a particularly brutal beating from my mother I began researching how to kill myself. Each day I would increase the amount of aspirin I took to see what it would do. I realized I needed a lot more than some aspirin, so the next time my Mom beat me and left me alone, I took every pill in the house--including my Mom's supply of cross tops and pink hearts. I was in my room watching the ceiling ripple and float away when she came home, pounding on my door, threatening to beat me if I didn't open it. My fear was so ingrained; I wobbled to the door and opened it. She could tell something was wrong. She beat me for a while then took me to the ER. She pretended to be a caring Mother while the nurses treated me like a selfish child who put a nice pretty lady through such a nightmare.
Then she sent me to stay with my Dad. A few weeks later when I was allowed home, she tried to strangle the life out of me. As she tightened her grip on my throat, her eyes were dead and metallic like a shark. I was seeing stars as she beat my head into the concrete. It was getting darker and I knew I was going to die. Somehow I managed to get my feet between us and I pushed with all my might. I looked into her eyes and in that moment, everything changed. I realized SHE was the sick one. It was her and not me. I called my Dad and he came and got me. I lived with him from 13 until I graduated and went off to college. Years later, I asked him why he let my Mom raise me when he knew something was wrong with her, and he said she had told him if he ever tried to take me she would kill me and then kill herself. He looked me in the eye and confessed he was afraid of her.
I tried for 27 more years to have some sort of relationship with my Mother, but the price was too high. It involved pretending she was NOT a monster, pretending the abuse didn't happen, and pretending we were happy and loving. I finally told her I didn't want any contact with her unless it was in a family therapist's office. I have not talked to her in over a decade and it has been the best 10 years of my life.
After our relationship ended, I started to remember the sexual abuse from the various people she abandoned me to as a small child. She even left me with the man who had molested her and her sisters. I think she tried to kill me because she would rather have had a dead child than have been a Mother who allowed her child to be molested. I have spent a lifetime trying to heal and to be aware of myself enough to embrace the things I learned from her and not be afraid of becoming her. I never had kids because I was always afraid that somehow I would turn into my mother.
I now work with children and teens and I find that my experiences have given me a gift of understanding kids who come from abuse. I try and pay it forward and help kids who need it most. I was lucky enough to have teachers and neighbors who cared and a Dad who was non-violent, but some kids don't have anyone at all. I want to be there for those who don’t.