You are my favorite and my darling. Oh, how I long for you, sweet dear Mama. My heart feels weird and full, to speak to you. How far away you seem. Where did you go?
People say you’re inside me. But where? My heart? Where in my heart? My hands? I doubt it. My mouth? “Do you kiss your mama with that mouth?” was a joke at your house. Yes, I kissed you with this mouth, a thousand thousand times.
A mom is a lot of different possible things. You were to me a deep comfort. How you got that way is not really fair. My dependence on you feels pathological, honestly. I wish you’d helped me prepare for life without you. Even high school can do this–senior math, a course on how to balance your checkbook and make a budget.
But more than money planning, I needed ways to be in the world without you, emotionally. Needing to teach myself all that was too big a job. It’s still too big a job.
I resent that you were in denial about your departure. The cancer that destroyed you–did you really not see death coming? Even if you had recovered, which didn’t seem possible, as you were diagnosed at stage 4–you would still die. Just delayed a while.
You were in denial about so many things, dear Mama. Dad, my brother, me. Yourself. You lied in a nutrition class you took, about the foods you ate. You seemed to hide a lot, from yourself, to get by. It was a weird magician trick I never understood. Did you really forget where you put the rabbit?
Was it cowardice, that made you stay with Dad? Seems like you really thought it was your job to sacrifice your life for the men you loved. I was always different, as the girl. You’d trained me to be strong like you, a mini-you. I didn’t need you to sacrifice your life for me. I would never in a million years ask you to.
They would ask you for anything. I remember when my brother was abusing you, after Dad died. My brother lived in your house, controlled your money, didn’t follow through with what he said he would do. My brother is a drug addict alcoholic who has zero integrity and thinks everything good in the world belongs to him. Money, food, drugs, guns, women. Did you really prefer his abuse, to living without a man?
But the part I’m remembering is seeing you crying on the couch, fully anguished, furious about something horrible my brother had done. You were crying like mad, rocking yourself, and I could see your suffering, as you felt the rage.
You were feeling it, and praying to Jesus to take your anger away. Rather than use your anger to tell my brother to leave, confront him, improve your situation–you prayed for the anger to dissipate, so you could continue with your life, which was being abused by him.
Why in the world you did that, I do not know. To me, it was very clear–ask him to leave. Give him a deadline. Build a life without him; live with freedom. Don’t let him use and hurt you anymore!
It was horrible for you! And horrible for me and everyone who witnessed your pain. But also, keeping my brother central to your life meant I had to keep interacting with him. And he’s the only person I’ve ever been afraid of murdering me in cold blood.
If he had killed me, that would have been really fucked up. If you had chosen to support and enable the violent nasty kid, who killed your good, kind kid. What irony.
He still could kill me–he definitely has reason to. And violence is his life. He has guns, and hurting women is his whole method of living. Exploiting women who love him is how he does anything!
I stopped falling for it, and cut him off, when you died. He was shocked silly and hounded me for a while, lied to my lawyer, harassed my spouse. Trying to force me to call him back, using all the manipulation methods he could think of, including “I love you” and dismissing me for mental heath struggles, as a non-human. Which of course is hilarious, as he’s crazy as me.
Back to my story. You were on the couch, crying your eyes out, and I watched that intense suffering. Grief pouring out of you, as you tried to manage yourself back into compliance with this asshole son who controlled your life. I watched you do it. I was like–why do I come here? This is a shit show.
It could have been around when my brother’s ex-wife had made a horrible accusation against him. Or it could have been when the sheriff was supposed to come arrest him, and he warned me it could be quiet or loud. I don’t like flash bombs.
He told me his woes, and I just looked at him. The warrant, the paperwork mishap, accusation, when he tried to turn himself in so he wouldn’t be raided again, at your house. He wanted my sympathy, and I gave him none. I quietly listened, hating him, and he eventually shut up, getting nowhere with me.
He promised you a lot–to fix something on your car, upkeep on the water filter thing, fixing backyard issues. You bought a screen door, which sat on the front porch for half a year. He’d string you along, make more promises, not follow through. He did the minimum, to keep you half-believing in him.
It was disgusting to watch, because he made your life dysfunctional. You could have paid someone to fix your turn signal months before, but my brother kept promising, and you had to live with that.
Drugs dysfunction, everyday household dysfunction, and then when you started to die more, a whole new level of hell.
But the burrito. We were at this restaurant, our favorite Mexican place, and we ate some delicious foods. It was me, you, and my spouse. We talked and enjoyed sitting at the table together. Munching chips, enjoying our food, smiling.
Then at the end of the meal, you called my brother to ask if he wanted a burrito. He gave you a detailed order of what kind of burrito he wanted, and you bought it for him, paying for it, down to his specifications.
I was like–wait! I just saw you crying your eyes out, about this asshole, doing wrong to you. And you’re seriously going to bring him his dream burrito, paid for by your own work, when he hasn’t worked in years?
You’re going to call him, to ask him if he wants it, after the excruciating emotional pain you were in, a few hours ago, about that worthless piece of shit, who treats you with exploitative brutality? He was worse than a blood-sucking parasite, sucking you of everything you had. Sucking the life out of you, along with your money, love, time, energy, and generous kindness. Your smiles, dancing, and fun.
He destroyed all that, but the creepiest part was how it was collaborative. You kept participating, keeping part of yourself pretending he was ok, to keep getting some rewards I don’t understand.
Wow, yes. He was hurting you. It hurt me to watch it. Still I’m living with the results of all that. My issues run so deep, dear Mama. I learned to sacrifice myself for men, tend their well-being at all times, take their abuse, and serve them first. Just like you did, all at my expense.
At least you believed in an afterlife, where you would get your reward in heaven. I believe no such thing. It makes zero sense for me to let men hurt me, manipulate me, and string me along, like you did. Men I love have way too much power over me. They use me, and it takes too long for me to comprehend.
I don’t want to blame you, dear Mama. The coping strategies you learned were not the result of happy fun times. You were the victim, long before I was born–victim of your dad, and who knows who else. But I wish you got a therapist, faced reality, and acknowledged that your bad behavior with abusive men was getting super deep into me. It fucks up my life, even after you died.
Endless work, to tell myself over and over to stop giving and giving to men who abuse me. As if giving more would make them love me right! Giving more never worked, but I still want to keep trying!
I beg Mother God to help me stop, and asked my friends to pray for me. Thought I wasn’t an addict, but it plays out the same way. I thought you weren’t an addict, but where did I learn this?
Dear Mama, I miss you. Especially when it was just the two of us. No boys allowed, for sure. We needed women-only spaces to hear ourselves think. It was the only way we could relax. To hear each other and find rest, not jumping up to do something for a man who was abusing us.
It feels good to tell the truth to you, whether or not you can hear me. I love you more than anything.