Through the last few weeks I’ve been on this journey of change, I find myself reflecting on many avenues that were less traveled. For so long, I have tried to hide from the haunting emotions that have plagued my life for as long as I can remember. I spent most of my early adulthood studiously avoiding reminiscences for fear of what I may recall. I stuffed my feelings deep inside and donned a smile to mask the pain.
As I began to examine the veracity of the my youth, I asked the age-old question: Why? Why did my mother do the things that she did to me? I’ve thought about my mother and how she came to be. Sometimes, the thought of past regression brings more and more anger. Other times, my heart is filled with pity when I contemplate the circumstances that must have led her to be the type of human being she was and still is.
“I don’t think the mind can comprehend the past or the future. They are both just illusions that can manipulate you into thinking there’s some kind of change.”
What type of person is capable of harming her own children? With my mother, there was a relationship between victimization and violence. Her abuse of her children is a consequence of her own experiences with domestic violence. When these circumstances arise, most women usually feel guilt or shame. While I cannot begin to state whether or not my mother harbored these feelings, I have never seen evidence of it.
When my older brother died, my mother confided in me that she wished that it had been my younger brother who died instead. As a fourteen year old child, I was unsure of how to react, so I said nothing. I was so taken aback that a mother would wish for any harm to come to any one of her children. If she was capable of propagating the exchange in death of one child for another, what else was she capable of? Even if a mother cultivated these feelings, why would she ever feel the need to share them with her own child?
Physical abuse at the hand of the mother is almost the worst kind. The bonds of trust are severed and possibly cannot be reconnected. However, the pain of neglect is sometimes more intense than physical abuse. It is more difficult to hypothesize about the neglect, though; it is less researched. I wonder, once my mother had escaped the clutches of her abusive, drugged-up ex-husband, why did she neglect her three children in the ways that she did? I thought when we were finally free of him, life would be the dream that I carried in my head and played out in my daydreams. But it was essentially a nightmare for us while my mother was out with some married man. Why did we have to be hungry, dirty, lonely and afraid? My mother was free of her amalgamation, so why wouldn’t she relish her life with the three children who had endured the pain and abuse with her, yet survived? If I felt unloved by my mother, did my brothers feel this, too?
I may never know the answers to the plethora of questions, and if I continue to obsess over it all, I will never have the peace I longed for in the throes of violence. I make the choice to redirect my thoughts to drift toward a safer place: today. When the lurking remnants of that pain, I must remember that it is not my legacy, but the legacy of abuse and neglect. Beneath the veneer, I have to embrace the beautiful person inside of me and learn to love her for who she is today. That’s the gift I can give myself.