I always wore shoes in the grass. I didn’t like the feeling of the little blades crawling through the crevices of my toes. Sometimes they would get stuck and I would have to rinse my feet off to get the intruders away. And then my feet were wet. When my feet were wet they would get cold, or I would slip on the smooth vinyl floors of our one story house. So I just wore shoes when I went outside, it was the simpler solution.
Mom said it was weird that I wore shoes all the time because the other kids liked running around barefoot. “You’re just weird,” she said. She was probably right.
That wasn’t really that rude of her to say. For her it was very nice. That’s because she wasn’t very nice. Mom had a lot to say about everyone and most of it was negative. Sometimes you can get away with saying mean stuff if you sound concerned, so she always sounded concerned. Wow, mom worries an awful lot, I thought, everything everyone does worries her. That wasn’t true. Everything everyone did was reasons to judge them. The tone of her voice was a liar. So was she.
As a kid, it can be really hard to understand that you parents aren’t always honest. My mom always told me that she hated liars more than anything in the world and that she would never lie to me. I believed her. Why would I not? She was my mother, she was my whole world. Everything she said, I kept with me. I picked up her words off the ground and stored them in a little locked box close to my heart. I have trouble pulling them out even still, because the key doesn’t quite work the same.
She said a lot of things to me that I believed because I believed she didn’t lie. She told me I was getting pudgy. She said I was lazy and selfish. She said I was broken and didn’t know how to care about people. She said I was dumb. She said I was trash and a waste of space. But that all came after she told me that I had no love for her in my heart.
She told me that I didn’t love her. I wanted to change her mind about that, but I was also angry. I had spent all of my life trying to be the daughter she wanted. I did everything to see her smile. She was my day and night and stars and moon. I didn’t know how to love anything but her. And here she was, telling me that I didn’t love her. I was nine. Every year after nine got worse. That’s when all the other insults started coming. I believed them too, because mom told me she would never lie to me, so it must be true.
I decided that if she wouldn’t accept my love, I would love my dad more. He was more like me anyway. He liked music and art and always gave me fun, crafty activities to do. He never forced his political views on me, besides, he didn’t really have many. He wanted me to be social and confident. He never told me to change anything about myself, and when I said to him “I love you,” he said to me “I love you too, C-Bear.”
Mom could tell that I had picked my dad over her and she didn’t like it. She would ask me awful questions when all three of us were together. “If your dad and I split up, who would you want to live with?” I shook my head, “I don’t know. Does it matter? You’re not getting a divorce.” It was always my dad, though. If I was to live with my mom, I would be her caretaker. She was always very bad at taking care of herself. She’s dependent, I guess some people just are. “Which parent do you like better?” I would look at her with eyes begging her to stop. She never stopped. “I like you both equal.” That was a lie. She made me very good at lying. Ironic.
The older I got, the more okay it became to be “honest” with me. “It’s bluntness, honey,” she would say, “I just don’t want to keep anything from you.” She would tell me that my dad was a terrible husband. “It’s just honesty, sweetie.” She would tell me that her mother was an awful mother and a trashy person. “Mom, that’s my grandmother,” I would interject. She would sigh, “It’s just the truth, baby girl.” She would insult my cousins, dad’s side of the family, and even my siblings, her own children. What’s the difference between honest and mean? I had no idea where one began and the other ended. She blurred the reality of what is and isn’t okay to say, so I chose to say nothing, or something close to it.
My mom didn’t get physically abusive...until she did. She threw a metal water bottle at me. She was aiming at my head. She missed. “Well I didn’t actually end up hitting you.” No you didn’t, I thought, because you have bad aim, not because you didn’t want to. I didn’t say that though. I chewed on the inside of my mouth. It hurt, but not more than it would if I had said what I was thinking. Once she grabbed my face and threw my head back against a wall. When she was pissed, she had superhuman strength and she liked using it against me. She punched my brother because she didn’t like the expression on his face. He never did anything about it. Maybe that’s why he’s still angry.
She tried to kill herself four times. I was there for the first three and I either talked her down or called the police. I regret it. Is that bad? Sure. I don’t care though. The last time, her “trash” mom saved her. I wish she didn’t.
I almost killed myself too. I was just too sad and too much of a dissapointment. Mom worked really hard to make life not worth living anymore. I was so close, not just once, but many times. I talked myself away from the pills. I’ve always been my own hero.
I haven’t seen my mom in over a year and it doesn’t make me sad. It makes me sad that she still finds ways to hurt me, but that’s my mother’s way. She wants dad back because he took really good care of her. He’s done with her and so am I. That’s progress. Every tomorrow, I suppose, is progress.