****Warning, this contains my memories of abuse, can be a trigger for others who have been abused as well.****
I write this after a fun filled morning of egg hunts and treats with my children, hugs and kisses of celebration with my husband, and a cancelled Easter lunch with my family. It was cancelled in part due to some sort of expanding conflict between my parents, and my mom storming off in a huff.
My sister begged me to bring the girls over since she had spent time and energy getting lunch and gifts ready for them, but I refused after a walk and talking with my husband. She cajoled and cried at both of us, but I am so irritated by my mother’s behaviors that I still refused. I won’t feed into the situation and put my children where the bullets are flying, and will fly regardless of who they hit.
Holidays or special occasions have been like this my entire life, one minute we would be sitting down to a nice breakfast or gifts, the next she would fly into a screaming rage or stomp off slamming doors or shouting cruel barbs as she left. I remember a Mother’s day where we set out to give my mom a wonderful day, and it ended in broken glass, tears, and my siblings and I hiding outside in the garden until she left.
Why she reacted this way?
You see, we had the audacity to present her with a larger than life card that was an award saying she was the #1 Mom. We also bent over backwards to make a delicious lunch (for 3 kids, 1 toddler and 1 adult we did pretty good) of lunch meat sandwiches, chips, and soda to drink. She opened the card, and began to yell about “this card being a huge lie” and that she was sickened by how we would lie to her like this.
I guess the normal kid behaviors of playing, sibling rivalry, acting out and not listening, or just being ourselves was so horrible that anything we did to make her happy was all just lies and disgusting. My dad herded us outside, and I was an unwilling audience to more screaming, objects and glass breaking, and her car driving off. I walked back in to find my father sweeping up broken glass with tears running down his cheeks.
We never knew one day to the next how she would feel, or act towards us. Sometimes she was cuddly and clingy, showering us with gifts and praise. The next moment she would be physically abusive, emotionally manipulative or screaming accusations in our faces for things we hadn’t done. She would claim to have been told about our actions by god, and would quote bible verses at me, or tell me she could see Satan standing behind me laughing at her as she hit me.
As I grew older and less willing to be her punching bag, she went out of her way to attack me, or hold me down trying to choke me to death while telling me that “she brought me into this world, and she was going to take me out of it.” I was an easy target being the oldest, and often wore the bruises of her fists, or belt marks after she was done.
These acts were barely hidden in our family, and my father and siblings would often side against me to keep themselves safe from her. I grew to hate the days where she acted loving or kind, because I knew it was just a matter of moments until the next time she would slide back into hurting me. I also grew to hate going to church, bible studies, or sunday school because she would use them as explanations for how she treated me, and tell me that because I was a sinner she had to punish me.
As an adult I have done my best to overcome my abusive past in many ways, but the one thing that would keep her out of my life (i.e. moving away or cutting her off) is not possible at this point in time. She acts like a loving grandmother to my 3 girls, and they know nothing of how she used to behave. I have tried to move away in the past, but my eldest missed my mom and dad, and my siblings so much that I moved us back to be closer to them. So I am stuck dealing with her at least in small amounts because she is an important part of my children’s lives.
I have just had to realize that nothing I do can fix her, and guard myself against her being too close or draining me. She is broken and has an emptiness inside her that knows only hunger and pain. I have seen this side of her, and know that nothing in this life can fix it, especially since she refuses to see the shards jutting out of her or how much she hurts others with them. I have struggled with feeling guilty for not being able to help her, but she is like a rabid wolverine in a trap, every time I have reached out to release her I get attacked.
So I am done trying to help, I am walking away because it is for my own good that I don’t stay. Drowning out the shrieking cries as I abandon her will be hard, but not as hard as staying for another round of pain I don’t deserve.
So I am making sure I seek out cuddles from my girls, reading stories to them, watching a movie or two, and time with my husband to counteract the remembered pain and chase away the ghosts of my tears.