I can’t tell you anything about the actual date, the weather outside, or what I ate that day. I honestly can’t remember. I think it was more towards the evening hours though, almost like a closure of sorts to a very long chapter in the book that is me. I was on the phone with my mother, as calm as I have ever been. She was pretending that we hadn’t just had the argument of a lifetime earlier in that week. Arguments were a frequent happening between us. She had grown to be quite a toxic person in my life and she was realizing the further I wanted to distance myself from her, the harder she was going to make it. I remember having her on the phone, practically clutching it with both hands.
“Mom.” I took a deep breath. Here goes nothing. “You need to just shut your mouth and you need to let me speak.”
It was then in that moment that I decided it was time to move on.
Growing up was a rather rough spot for my brother and myself. Our parents got divorced when I was seven years old. And let me tell you, it was a good thing. They couldn’t have been more opposite for each other. My father was a drinker and could be a violent man when provoked enough. My mother was whimsical, a skinny little thing, always in her own head. I later have come to know that this was partly because of a few mental issues that she had that amplified later on down the road. We were in and out of living with our grandparents and when my mother could find us housing, it tended to be short lived. She liked to move around a lot, or so I thought. The passing of time really shines light on the darkest of corners. Those corners you dare not see, those corners you simply couldn’t see through innocent eyes. I would never let my brother and I fall into that trap of statistics though. I was a dreamer and he was a child. I taught him how to read, to write, and to tie his shoes because frankly, no one else was going to.
My mother would rarely cook, hardly clean, and seldom engage. She spent most of her time sleeping the entire day away, unless she was at work. She would come home and always mumble about the cash register being short. Moving into my teenage years, I didn’t care about what was going on in her work place, I was more concerned with hitting eighteen. The older I got, the harder my shell became. My mother was putting her depression underneath a microscope, so anyone would pay attention to her. Doctors were practically throwing medicine her way and she would take it like clockwork. Finding anything to get her to that numb state where she could sleep and forget that she had to live this life. Forget that she had people living this life with her underneath the same roof.
As a young woman moving into my late teenage years, I realized that I have always had a maternal instinct. The neighborhood children of the lost and forgotten would find their way to our doorstep. I would make them food and they would play video games, sprawling themselves out on the floor. I would ensure that their homework was completed before such games because “We are getting out of here.” was my motto and everyone knew it well. I was never worried about my mother coming downstairs and wondering why one of the neighborhood kids was sprawled out on the couch from the day before, not wanting to go home. She never really would come downstairs, so I pretty much had a run of the show. In high school, I bounced around in friend groups. I was always so curious about what made people tick, what made people the way that they are. I always had someone to say hi to in the hallways, even though in reality I missed a lot of my high school experience. I was under a lot of stress between making sure my brother was doing okay, finding a job, and ensuring my mother wasn’t passed out for good.
I made my huge move out of her house after I found a love for California. She wasn’t pleased that one of her children was trying to leave her after all that she had done. She would scream at the top of her lungs about how sorry she was that she couldn’t provide a better life, she couldn’t buy us the big house, and she couldn’t buy me a horse. I would look at her, watching her have these meltdowns. I learned quick that if you engage, that’s exactly what she wants. She wants your emotional buy in so she can guilt you into staying exactly where you are. I made a lot of friends socially, finding out that networking was my niche. A group of my friends and I fell in love with music from Coheed and Cambria, a rock band, and we decided that it would be cool to meet up in one spot and camp out in Glacier National Park, Montana. I knew my way out was through people. I understood at a young age that you either become it or you rise above it and that the world was much bigger than the four small walls of my mother’s home. One of my friends on the trip lived in California and I quickly made a break to move in with her for a bit. I needed to clear my head and to get as far away as possible from the place I was forced to live in.
With all brash decisions, I quickly came down from my longing to leave and with the help of long talks, good food, and laughter in California, I knew I needed to come home and face her one more. I think the difference was I felt prepared to do so. I felt rejuvenated. I stayed with her a few weeks and quickly moved back out. Back and forth continued, her playing the cards one way so my perception was of a struggling woman, then she would flip the tables and appear fine. She was a master of many faces. It’s strange, when you finally realize this about someone you have loved and cared for it is a very surreal feeling. The feeling of being used and replaceable is something that I admittingly still struggle with today, but it doesn’t echo in my hollow chest anymore.
“You need to shut your mouth and you need to let me speak,” I said.
She fell silent, almost obediently. She knew the routine when someone had enough.
“This will be the last time you hear from me. I do not need you calling me, messaging me, messaging my friends.” I had found out over the years she had hit up my friends all over the world for money. I wasn’t even embarrassed, I was expectant on something like that now.
“I am done. I am calling it quits. I cannot and will not do this anymore. It is not healthy for you or for me. You need to work on yourself and that does not involve me. I cannot help you. I will not help you. You need to find your peace. I have done all that I can do and I will not do anymore.”
We sat in silence for what felt like forever. I knew she had actually heard me this time.
“Okay.” She said. “I love you, goodbye.”
It is one of the hardest things to part ways with your mother. As a woman, you can understand the ties that you have to her. You have a special bond, woman to woman, child to mother. Your instincts kick in to want to save her, to take care of her, even when she is abusing the privilege. It takes every fiber in your body to stand up to her because you are engrained at a young age to believe in her, to cherish her, no matter what. Taking off the rose colored lenses can be one of the most difficult things any woman has to do in this situation, but I am telling you it is worth it.
Your happiness is worth it.
Your peace of mind is worth it.
Your freedom is worth it.
You are worth it.
It will be okay. It isn’t as big of an explosion as your anxiety tells you it will be. It will come quickly and pass just as such. You will look around and suddenly feel the urge to take a deep breath. It’s done, it’s over.
You have let go and you have moved on.
Article originally posted on Odyssey Online.