Things My Mother Told Me…

“I don’t think you are that lovable.  When I think about it, no one will ever love you the way your father loved me. You’re already too old for someone to love you that long during your life.”  When she said this to me, my father had died less than a year ago.  Clearly, he was the only parent who had loved me.  If, that is, I am indeed lovable at all.

There is a long list of things I wish my mother had never told me, all of which have been divulged in the time since my father died.  No, I’m wrong already, she has been giving me these small jewels of information for years, I’ve just been sheltered in how I have translated the information.

Like so many children, I had an idealized perception of my parents’ unending love for me. I faithfully believed that my parents would always support me, that there was always a safety net called “home” to cradle me in times of dire need or desperation. That belief began to puncture around the same time my mother’s cardiologist recommended she drink one glass of red wine a day. I’m not sure it still qualifies as one glass when the goblet holds the contents of two-thirds of a bottle of Merlot.

“It’s not my job to take care of you, or any of my kids. You are all adults and I’m not responsible anymore for caring about you. Everyone tells me so.” She slurs through her proclamation in the weeks following my father’s heart attack. While I’m sure the statements from her friends and family involve some comment about how we are adults and my mother should practice self-care, what she has heard is that she is alleviated fully of any responsibility to monitor our emotional welfare following my father’s sudden demise. She locks herself in her bedroom and wails, glugging down additional glasses of boxed wine, which she stores under her bathroom sink along with a half-empty handle of Smirnoff.

I’m not sure when her glass of wine a day became a problem, but my sister, a decade my junior, relays that this is the only mother she has ever known. We’re lost now, or lost again.  Adopted children, maybe, always remain orphans a tiny bit. We will always be orphans now.

“Your dad, he wasn’t perfect. He did a lot of things wrong. He didn’t even try to be intimate with me for five years. But he loved me. He did.”  Yes, counseling my mother through her own issues with feeling loved and wanting me to love her, despite her assertions that I, myself, cannot be loved, is perhaps the most trying element of those drunken conversations.  She wants reassurance, she wants validation, that even without true intimacy, my father loved her. I tell her that he did, even though she wouldn’t remember that I said it later. Even one minute later, as we repeated the conversation verbatim.  Yes, my father loved you.

It is not a lie.

“I might have to put the dog to sleep.  Now I know she isn’t really in pain, but she’s just so much work, and she isn’t my dog.  I never wanted her.  Your dad should’ve taken her when he left.”  She says this, as though in the midst of his heart attack, my father motioned to our family pet, who has been with us for over a decade, and asked her if she would like to die too. If the border collie had known that no human in the house would ever stroke her furry mane again until her own death, she may have agreed.

Years ago, I wanted the dog.  I was moving out of state for the first time, and I thought the transition would be easier if I had the dog with me, the dog who adored me and always made me feel less alone. But my mother had refused, claiming I was selfishly stealing my sister’s pet from her. Yet now, it’s a threat. If I don’t take the dog, she will let her die. She didn’t do it right away.  My mother waited a few months before she killed her.  She called me three weeks later and nonchalantly mentioned the dog was dead.  “I told you, didn’t I?  Well, it doesn’t matter, she went in peace. We buried her by the side of a road or something.  I don’t really remember.  I know you said you wanted to cremate her, but that was too expensive, so we just buried her. In peace.”

We.  My mother had been part of a we for so many decades that she had to replace the we.   My dad died, and my mother “had a new love of her life within weeks of his death.  It was obvious that there was no newness to the new relationship, except that it was no longer the “deep, dark secret” that she used to gurgle about when she was inebriated, now it was a public exhibition of her infidelity.  He new love was uncouth, untethered, unconventional – a true opportunist.  With a large house and a business to sell, my mother was an opportunity.  Around this same time, my mother only took our calls by speaker phone and with supervision.  Her new love answered for her, spoke for her, coached her responses. The script was always the same: she was having fun, we were selfish bastard children.  I wanted to feel sorry for her, but it was easier to watch her trickle into yet another relationship where all of her thoughts were created by the other person.

When I was a little girl, my mother and I used to watch made-for-tv movies together, mostly featuring women making bad choices or trapped in bad circumstances. When women abandoned their children for flashy men, or refused to leave abusers and controllers who hurt their kids, my mother would proclaim gravely, “I would never choose a man over my kids; my kids are the most important thing in the world to me.”  I’m not sure when that vow became a lie: the moment it left her lips, or years later, when it was no longer convenient and her new boyfriend told her that selfishness was the true path to happiness.  “I can’t see you if you don’t want to meet with him,” she said though I had not spoken to her for a year.  I extended the olive branch, offering to meet alone, without her lover as a chaperone.  She refused to abandon him and chose not to see me. It was the anniversary of the day I was adopted.

“This isn’t home for anyone,” she said when she unceremoniously sold our family home.  “I hope that you all leave and find your own homes.”  She wanted us all to disperse, to find the wind and blow like leaves. We did.  We weren’t meant to grow roots, only wings. She didn’t seem to notice or care if the wings had developed, if the others had the capacity to fly or not.  She only cared that the nest was to be empty and she would be free to find flight.

Now she is a nomad, too young to retire, living off leftover money and waiting for my father’s social security. “He’d want that for me, to be able to take care of me,” she says, as I write checks for essential things and try to plan safety nets for my siblings.  My mother used to say her greatest fear in life was that she would get old and that none of her children would want to care for her, would not welcome her into our homes, that we would let her die alone.  “Even though,” she would say.  “Even though I took care of you your entire lives.”

Life is a series of ironies, it seems.

 

 

Often & Much

I think, sometimes, about the many mistakes I have made in the past. The past, like yesterday (or Sunday, specifically). I think, “how quickly will karma come?” I think about how quickly it has come before, when I’ve done things that were on the thin of falling off the moral compass. Often, I believe it’s why I spend so much time alone, or why I have been alone so much.

Other times, I think it’s my fierce affection for others who have enraptured me.  It is not just love affairs that have blinded me. Other people mistake my strength as a challenge to see my weakness and exploit it. Or as an opportunity to take advantage – maybe it’s all exploitation and manipulation.  I know it all feels yucky and confusing and empty.  Sometimes, I try to assign meaning or rationalize or correlate these disgusting mean meanies to bad things I have done, but the truth is: mean people are mean. They like being mean. They need no reason.

This city has been a vicious cycle of false friends and opportunists or judgmental folks who can’t understand that not all free-spirits have wind in their hair and bare feet.  I’m opinionated, not rigid. I’m professional, not conservative. I’m vocal, not judgmental.  Except with judgmental people, I tend to want to give them a taste of their own behavior – an incredibly pointless exercise which I somehow cannot stop.  I am strong because I was built that way, but my strength is independence, scurrying down tiny trails because a feeling led me there, not because the path was well-worn. I still follow a heart-string to the edge of the Universe, which is why I don’t think of myself as a natural leader; not everyone is meant to live on the edge of the Universe…don’t follow me unless you’re sure. Very few people have been sure, which circles back to why I am mostly alone.

So, I did a bad thing, and then immediately, something bad happened to me. Now I’m empty again, not just alone, but actually empty. It’s that rumble in the belly when you’re so hungry, it is no longer a pain, but a hollow… the faintest echo hollering back.  For now, I think what is needed is for me to feel the emptiness instead of fill it (see “vicious cycle of false friends”).

Maybe the echo has something to say.

Godric Elevens

11 Things About Godric the Kitten

1. Godric loves his tummy rubbed first thing in the morning. He will stretch his legs and purr and purr.

2. Godric hates all talking first thing in the morning. First thing in the morning is for tummy rubs. Only for tummy rubs. Do not talk. Do not answer the phone. Do not make coffee. Do not use the bathroom. Tummy rubs.

3. Godric loves ice cream from Dairy Queen. Though I thought I was ordering him Kitty Cones, I was recently advised they are indeed Kiddie Cones, for children, not kittens.

4. Mr. Man lost his boar bristle flat brush to Godric. It is now a kitten brush.

5. Godric loves Mr. Man. The feeling is not mutual. Though I explained to Godric that love is fickle and inconsistent, he continues to be a traitor by adoring Mr. Man more.

6. Godric wants to be friends with all the animals in our neighborhood. Two kittens have punched him in the face. He is not an alpha cat.

7. I’m trying to convince Godric I am still his human even though my hair is a different color. He is not convinced. He has tried to scratch the dye off the blond strands that are now brunette.

8. Godric’s twin is half his weight. Godric is a giant kitten that happens to weigh 15 pounds. Maxie weighs 8 pounds and so does Izzy, Godric’s mom.

9. Godric does not like moving. He has been extremely confused and anxious about these boxes. I haven’t told him it’s going to get worse… Soon we will live somewhere else.

10. Godric loves watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I’ve tried to explain about Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood being the original creepy version, but Godric calls me a liar.

11. I have officially become a crazy cat lady. Godric’s IG: http://www.instagram.com/godricthekitten

Mantra Years…

2017:

  1. If it comes, let it.  If it goes, let it.
  2. As long as your actions are reactions, someone else is still in charge.
  3. Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
  4. A tether, my love.  Not an anchor.
  5. There’s a difference between pursuing your goals and being in a constant state of chase.
  6. Love hard or not at all.

2016:

  1. Brain-space does not equal wordspace.
  2. Success = The Best Revenge.
  3. Loyalty is not free. Allow it to be earned not given.
  4. Don’t let them change you. Others will conform if you set the norm.
  5. Love exists for the subject, not the object. The love you give is for you.
  6. Expect nothing, live frugally, on surprise.

2015:

  1. If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me.
  2. Eggshell Plaintiff Rule.
  3. One dreamer, one dream.
  4. Never say “no” without a reason. Never say “yes” without knowing why.
  5. Comparison is the thief of joy.
  6. Not everything that needs to be told should be heard.

Lunar New Year…A Replacement Birthday Blog

“I didn’t write a birthday blog this year.  I didn’t even try.” This is what I wrote a year ago on Lunar New Year, and it is again true this year:  I did not try and I did not write.

There are things I wanted to say, but my words failed.  There are things I wanted to do, but I did not act. I wanted to feel, but I was apathetic. I can’t explain or describe why this past year was so difficult. I’ve re-written this paragraph several times, trying to say something eloquent or meaningful. Sometimes, words have no meaning.

Maybe last year’s Birthday Blog anchored me to this strategic way of feeling, of organizing and planning my feelings, something that was not organic to me.  I was in a new form of survival mode; I was existing. There was nothing terribly wrong, there was just nothing exactly right.  I was lost, untethered to the reality I had built based on the expectations of others. I responded instead of reacted. I answered instead of replied. I attempted desperately not to feel anything, at all. I had fallen into such a deep despair and was prisoner to so much insecurity, that I was a puppet or a shell… I was nothing really, at all. So, there was nothing to write about. A puppet needs a script to speak.

I used to love my Late Onset Tourette’s Syndrome, this politically incorrect diagnosis I had given myself to explain episodes where I said the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time because I thought it and I just said what I thought.  I loved that I was always uncensored, and more than a bit impetuous.  The people in my life that truly loved me, loved this too, despite this or perhaps, hopefully, because of this uncanny ability I had to say the truth in a way that made people think about their own truth. Before, I didn’t need other people’s words, or thoughts, or instructions.  I trusted myself, even when I was wrong.  The mistakes I made, I owned because those choices were my truth. Without this, I was never really me.

This past year was more difficult, harrowing, hollow than all prior years (including the year after my father died) because I was removed, wholly, from who I was, not only who I hoped to evolve to become.  It’s hard to reflect and write about a year you barely remember because it feels like someone else’s life.

I wish I could say I had a moment of self-actualization and power and resolved to be me, warts and all. But that isn’t what happened.  What happened is, one day I was hiding, and he found me anyhow. When he found me, he expected me to be the same. And I realized, I wanted to be who I was before, the same as I was before – impatient, stubborn, outspoken, raw – something I had not allowed myself to feel, or want, or realize.  So maybe, it was a moment of self-actualization after all.

It’s New Year, and so, I choose one resolution, one quote mantra for the year:  “If it comes, let it.  If it goes, let it.” For me, this means that to the best of my ability, I will willfully command myself not to control everything, including the desires and needs of others.  I’m attempting, not very gracefully and a bit begrudgingly, to live a non-attached life; this is not to say I am UNattached or NOT attached, but that everything is impermanent.  My purpose is to exist in the relationship for the time that it exists, without ownership or expectation, value what I have, and release what I do not need.  For a control freak, neurotic, alpha female, this is no easy feat.

But, feeling more like myself, I am ready to try.