At least, it does so lately. (Siblings, you might wanna skip today’s entry. I talk about Mom and other deep scary stuff. )
Had therapy today. Nothing big went down. I told my therapist that I have my father’s address now, so I could totally send him a letter. But then we got on talking about how the really hard thing to do is confront the weak partner, the passive one, the one who could have helped but did nothing.
In other words, my mother. Might be different in your family. Probably not.
My mother is the one person who could have restrained my father’s rage at the dinner table, and beyond. She was the sane adult with children who were emotionally imperiled by her unstable and dangerous spouse, and in absolute terms, she should have been fighting for us the whole time.
Instead, we all learned to instinctively protect her. She was always so sweet and so fragile. Even today, I can’t imagine ever confronting her about the sort of childhood I had and her role in the abusive dysfunction of our unhappy home. I just can’t imagine upsetting her like that. I would feel like the worst person in the world if I hurt that sweet, sensitive woman.
Plus, I gather her health is not that great, and I would never do anything that might make that worse. (Don’t leave without me, Mom. I beg you. )
So whatever I might have to say to her, odds are it will never get said except perhaps in a letter that I never send. I can’t see a solution. For me, hurting her in any way is just plain unthinkable.
Like I have said before, she says she was a victim too, and she was. My father systematically dismantled her self-esteem and made her, a very intelligent woman with a professional career and a lot of responsibility at work, utterly dependent on him. He had her convinced that only he could handle the family finances, and so she could never leave him, obviously.
It can’t be easy to be married to Larry, four kids or no. I think, like a lot of abused wives, she just buried herself in her work and in looking after the kids, and treated Larry just like we kids treated him, namely doing her best to avoid him. It’s that old trick, dealing with something by not dealing with it.
Then there is my certainty that she was suffering from depression for a lot of my childhood. Something happened somewhere along the way and I think she just kind of gave up. She just went through the motions of life.
I find it odd that my siblings didn’t notice this. I sure did. But in a sense, Mom was my only friend when I was in elementary school, so I was closer to her than the others, at least till the zombie chill of her depression finally got through to me and I started leaving her alone, too.
Which, of course, left me totally isolated. I am positive there is a link between my depression and hers that goes far beyond mere genetic risk factors. I saw what happened to her, emotionally speaking, and internalized it.
Maybe all my frozen tundra exists within her as well.
It wasn’t all bad, though. I have fond memories of summers with my Mom, where she would be off work and there to be a Mom to us. I remember her taking the time to teach me things and stir my curiosity, and of course I will always treasure her reading all of the Narnia books, plus Huckleberry Finn and both Alice books, to me when I was a wee sprog.
It must have been fun for her too. Reading to wide-eyed little me, answering my occasional question when I didn’t understand something, doing all the voices for the different characters, my little red head soaking it all up in rapt awe.
And of course, like I have said before, I remember sitting with her at the family dinner table, in the kitchen, singing along to folk songs while she strummed her guitar, the very picture of Seventies familial bliss.
No wonder I have such intense Seventies nostalgia that it feels sometimes like a fever dream. No only was that the era of my most formative years, but things were a heck of a lot better for me back then. I had friends, Pat and Janet, and I had my family around me, far more supportive and attentive and less distracted back then, and things were just plain a lot groovier back then.
Everything changed for me when I went to school. Well, actually, the year before that, when Pat and Janet went off to school and so it was just me and the babysitter. That was the year I should have been in kindergarten.
But we’ve been over that.
So in my mind, it really does seem like the Seventies were the good times, and everything went to hell once the Eighties started. Think about it, I was born in ’73, which means I was seven in 1980. That means Grade II, and yup, by then my life was a hell of boredom and terror, utterly alone in a cold, cruel world.
Maybe it seems that way to my mother as well. It feels like in the Eighties, everyone got colder, more self-absorbed, more careerist, more grey and angry.
I know you won’t agree with that, Felicity, but it’s just my own impression.
The more I think about my childhood, the stronger the feeling of terrible wrongness gets. Nobody should grow up that isolated and abandoned, and my mother played her part in THAT as well.
She ignored me just like the others. I was inconvenient. They didn’t know what to do with me. So they did nothing.
After all, I was so meek and shy, it was like I wasn’t even there.
Sometimes I still feel like I am not even here.
Maybe I should pay someone to remind me I’m around.
I will talk to you again tomorrow, dear readers.