Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My Mother . . . or, Welcome to Another Edition of The Jerry Springer Show

For anyone who doesn't understand where this is stemming from, check out the comment section to this post.

Let me just start by saying that I offered my mother an opportunity to engage in discussion privately. She has apparently decided that she likes the spotlight more than she likes dignity. Yes, yes, I know that I blog, and therefore make my life public, but I certainly don't blog to engage in verbal wrestling exhibition matches. This is my life, and I write about it. My mother is free to say anything she wants to say about me - elsewhere. I don't care what she says about me - she can write about it in her own blog, she can shout it from the rooftops, she can go on national television for all I care - but to try and get her voice heard here, on my turf, is just unacceptable. Don't forget, Mother, that I have the power to delete your comments.

Now, let me tell you all about my mother, and about myself. I have nothing to hide, I really don't. I have decided to disclose everything in order to dispel any misconceptions or confusion.

My parents sucked at being parents (and spouses, for that matter). They had a shotgun wedding when my mother was 19 and my father 18, my mother already knocked up. They ended up having three kids by the time my mother was 23 and my dad 22. My dad was a drinker. He beat my mother up and cheated on her a lot, from what I understand (my mother liked to make me privy to all the juicy and sordid details of her adult life). So they really were too young, too immature, and too fucked up to be good parents. Truly, one of my earliest memories is of "getting the belt" from my father. I can still picture the scene. It was before they split up, so I know I was very young. I have another picture in my memory bank of my mother hitting me with a hairbrush because I had put dirty socks in the laundry inside out. Again, this happened when we still lived in that first apartment before my parents split up, so I was very young. They were divorced by the time I was 5, my older brother 6, and my younger brother 3. It wasn't long before my mother moved us in with her boyfriend, who also liked to beat us kids. She let him. She may claim now that she didn't know (which I wouldn't buy), but she certainly should have known. She shouldn't have so casually and impulsively exposed her children to a new man in her life. Eventually they split up too, and then it was back to just me, my younger brother, and my mother (my older brother she had sent to live with our father since he, at 6 or 7 years old, "couldn't get along with" my mother's boyfriend). My mother had to work full time to support us. At one point she hired a babysitter to look after me and my younger brother - a teenage girl - who would masturbate in front of us and make us watch. My younger brother was sick a lot as a little kid. When he had to miss school, I was charged with staying home with him and looking after him.

When I was 8 years old, Mom and Dad decided to get back together. Over the next few years, there were many beatings, many episodes of my mother falling apart, many nights I would lay awake and listen to my father stagger in drunkenly in the middle of the night and then terrible, violent fights between him and my mother would ensue. My mother leaned heavily on me. She cried to me and wanted me - a child! - to reassure her that everything was going to be okay. Then in an instant she would turn on me and expect me to take on the role of child, and she would punish me, quite often violently, for transgressions I committed as a child. Back and forth, back and forth, I swung like a fucking pendulum. Am I the adult today or the child? I never knew.

When I was 12, Mom and Dad split up again. Dad had been having an affair behind Mom's back, and Mom found out - and of course made me privy to the whole thing. Mom really fell apart then. She would come home from work and lock herself in her bedroom for hours - literally hours - chain smoking and crying on the phone to whomever would listen to her. I can still see the fog of smoke so thick in her room that you could hardly see to the opposite side. Was she taking care of her kids then? No. Maybe she wasn't capable, I don't know.

A couple years later, my father married the woman with whom he had been cheating on my mother. My mother, shortly thereafter, and I have no doubt in retaliation, married a man whom she had met only three months prior. A man whom she allowed to move into her house with her children a week after she went on her first date with him (and she always made us kids responsible for that: "You guys wanted him to move in," she would say over and over, as if seh had no control over the situation). The scene replayed: there she was again, exposing her children to a man she barely knew, and one who also turned out to be an asshole.

Their marriage was a joke from the beginning. And through it all, my mother continued to make me privy to things she had no business burdening me with: like how disgusted she was over the fact that my step-father either wasn't circumcised, or if he was, it was botched. And the long-term affair she had while she was married to him with a guy she worked with (remember Max, Mother? I do.)

She and my step-father were abusive. My step-father was more into verbal abuse (he called me "Mouth"), but there was also an incident where he was dragging me across the living room by my hair. My mother continued her abuse as well. I have a friend whom I have known since I was 12, and she still remembers mornings when I would show up for school a wreck, my hair wet and disheveled because my mother had shoved my head under the faucet for some transgression, and then made me go to school like that.

Here is a list of the crimes I committed as a kid:

~ I whined and talked back.
~ I swore at my mother.
~ Sometimes I lied.
~ I stole cigarettes and small change from my mother.
~ I began smoking cigarettes, drinking, and smoking pot when I was 13.
~ When I was 14, I got caught shoplifting a bathing suit from Mervyn's.
~ I wore makeup to school behind my mother's back when she had forbidden me to wear makeup.
~ I snuck out of my bedroom window with my step-sister and went to parties.
~ I hosted one party at my mother's house one summer when she was at work. There were drinking, smoking, and pot at the party, as well as groping between boys and girls.
~ I began having sex when I was 16. My mother knew about this, as I was responsible enough that I went to her and asked for birth control (you know, so I wouldn't end up knocked up like she had done). She thereafter ranted about what a slut I was (let it be said for the record that I have had sex with exactly TWO men in my life, and I married both of them. Some slut).
~ I left home when I was 15 and moved in with an aunt for several moths because the home life provided me by my mother was intolerable (if you can even consider this a crime).
~ I ran away from home when I was 17, dropping out of high school in my senior year, and leaving the state. Nearly nobody knew where I was for a year.

So, those are the things I did to "contribute to the chaos in the home."

It is clear to me that my mother has not changed. She is still the same self-absorbed, self-interested person she always was. She is asking for forgiveness (and she is now putting up a cohort to back her up) and demanding that I accept some accountability for the absolute craziness that went on when I was a mere child. I won't do it. I will not accept blame or responsibility, or share in the accountability, for being a kid. Was I a perfect kid? No. I'm sure I was a pain the ass at times. What kid isn't? But I was not a terrible kid. I engaged in a lot of mischief that kids the world over engage in (and mischief that even my mother herself engaged in when she was a kid - gee, I wonder if she's ever called up her mother and accepted responsibility for the crimes she committed as a kid?). I also acted out in large part in response to the madness I lived with. I did not have a single positive role model growing up - not a one. And my mother seems to still be dumbfounded that I did some of the things I did.

Let us move on to the adult years. I believe it was the night of my wedding to my first husband that my mother and father reunited in what was to be a long, drawn-out affair. My father was still married to his second wife, so it was pretty ironic that he was now cheating on her with my mother. His alcoholism was out of control. He would spend days on end at my mother's house and lie to his wife, telling her that he was at my house. So she would call my house looking for her husband, and I had to cover up for him. My mother, during this time, was desperate for my father to leave his wife and return to her for good. I was still her sounding board during this time, her confidante. "Do you think he'll ever come back?" she would cry to me over and over. "He loves me, doesn't he?" she would ask me. She would also share with me how my dad couldn't get it up when he was drinking. She knew no boundaries.

Eventually my father moved away with his wife, ending his affair with my mother. She would call me on the phone and threaten suicide. I finally told her to just do it if she was going to do it, because I couldn't handle the pressure anymore of trying to save her.

My relationship with my mother fell apart over and over. I would have enough of her shenanigans and walk away, only to be sucked back in eventually.

My marriage to my first husband lasted for 12 years and came to a very ugly end. He was abusive, he was an alcoholic, and a drug addict. One night he disappeared with our two-year old son. He was on a binge (he was a cocaine addict). He was gone with our son all night, and to this day I have no idea where he took him or what happened. I was frantic all night. He came back in the morning with Kevin, and I went to see a divorce attorney that day, who drafted divorce papers. I also applied for a restraining order against him, because I feared for my own safety and that of my son.

At the court hearing for the restraining order, my estranged husband showed up not with an attorney, but with my mother. She and I (and my husband, for that matter) had already been estranged for some time by then, but I assume in desperation, he recruited her, knowing he could count on her to take a stand against me. And she didn't disappoint. She showed up in court with him and tried to tell the court that I was an unfit mother and wife. The court wasn't interested in anything she had to say - she wasn't a party to the action.

She hadn't been a part of our lives for some time, so she had no idea whatsoever about what kind of mother or wife I was. She also didn't know about the abuse I suffered at the hands of my husband, or about his drinking and drug problems - how would she know? I never shared that with her. But what kind of mother turns on her own daughter like that, especially without knowing any facts? She never once asked me if I was okay. It was merely a perfect opportunity for her to hurt me, to pay me back for hurting her by washing my hands of my relationship with her.

Less than two weeks later, my estranged husband was found dead of a cocaine overdose in a stranger's front yard. Although I had filed for divorce, this was a person I had spent 15 years of my life with - somebody I had a child with. I was devastated. My mother called me on the phone and told me "You must be glad that he's dead." I banned her from the funeral at that point and told her that she was not welcome in my life anymore. A few days after the funeral, she showed up unannounced at my front door, arms open as if to embrace me, with a smile on her face. I chased her across the front lawn and out to her car, screaming obscenities at her.

I have not spoken to her or lain eyes on her since that day. That was 10 years ago.

Has she ever acknowledged that terrible act she committed? No, she has not.

This is not about forgiveness for me. It's about protecting myself and my family. I will not - WILL NOT - subject myself or my children to that woman, especially when it is so clear that she has not changed. She's the same selfish person who is unwilling and/or incapable of taking fucking responsibility - full responsibility - for her behavior and for her choices. No, this is not about forgiveness, it's about making healthy, positive choices. Putting an end to my relationship with her for good was one of the healthiest choices I have ever made.

My life speaks for itself. I have made a good life for myself and I am happy. I am married to a wonderful man who loves me and respects me and is devoted to his family. I have six terrific kids. I am an honest, upstanding citizen who has high morals. My life is imperfectly perfect.

Now that I have several years of mothering under my belt, I can certainly see and sympathize with some of the challenges my mother faced as a parent - challenges that all parents face. And yes, she faced some challenges that not everyone faces. But I face challenges every day that she never had to face. And I don't care what challenges she faced, she was responsible for my happiness and my physical and emotional well-being when I was a child. She was the adult, the parent, no matter how young and ill-prepared she was to be a parent. When she decided at 17 years old to start having unprotected sex, she accepted the risk of becoming a young, ill-prepared parent. Likewise, I am responsible for my children's happiness and well-being. I fail sometimes. I take responsibility for that, without excuses. To say that she did the best she could is her same old excuse. Poor Lori, such a victim of it all. That was a choice, too, to live as a victim.

I am not fool enough to think that my kids won't engage in mischief. I hope to goodness that they don't do some of the things I did . . . but I know they will. I will try to see it for what it is - some of it is normal growing pains, and the other stuff? Well, I'll have to sit down and examine myself in the mirror of parenthood.

I have been aware for some time that despite the fact that my mother and I have no contact that she reads my blogs. I am fine with that. I'm glad that she's got a little window into my life. Why she is suddenly trying to intrude into my life is what I can't understand - nor am I interested. We are strangers, she and I. The fact that she sees even a remote possibility that I would turn to her in my time of need is almost laughable, and pitiful as well.

So, folks, there's the drama of my life in a nutshell. Maybe I've gone overboard, crossed some line of propriety in disclosing all this stuff. I don't much care. Like I said, I have nothing to hide. This is me, take it or leave it.


heather said...

Take it or leave it? I will take it! You are such a great person, mom and friend. It is amazing you have become the person you are today after all of the hardships you have had in your life. But we our made up of our life experiences and that is probably the reason you have such incredible depth, honesty, nonjudgmental, and values. You've seen it both ways and know which one leads to true happiness.

Keri said...

After reading this blog, all I have to say is that you are an incredibly strong woman. Only someone with strength of character could survive what you did and CHOOSE to give your children the type of childhood you wished you'd had rather than repeating the mistakes of your parents.

Eternal Lizdom said...

My husband had a mother who was horrid. If she ever dared to attempt to enter our lives at this point...

While the childhood stuff broke my heart... the piece that infuriated me, enraged me, and would have been the absolute END of my relationship was when your mother showed up in court on the side of the drug addict ex. Unreal.

You know that you are doing the right thing. You have come a long way. You have a lot of life figured out. And you work through the things that life throws at you.

Nicole O'Dell said...

I wish I could just hug you.

You're a beautiful person, despite it all.

mom of 2 said...

My husband had parents like you had-
he sees them a few times a year but does not feel close to them- He
says that maybe it is a way to
punish them by not letting them
be close to him and our family-
Like you he has become a good parent
who is always there for his kids-
He is always stressed for a week before and a week after he sees them...
I had good parents but they both
passed away- doesn't life suck sometimes?!?
You are making good decisions for
your family- stay strong.

Angie said...

your honestly and ability to tell you story never ceases to amaze me.

Your an inspiring, wonderful, caring and valued woman who has found her place in life. you rock lisa.

Anonymous said...

I have been lurking and reading your blog. I have my own blog but keep it private to only those who request to read it becase truly I fear those that are out there in a past life that will read my blog and think that they have every oppportunity to come back into my new life and they DO NOT!

You are a very strong woman. You have shared with us your life, your fears, your strengths, your love. You have shown that although you may not be perfect (no one is) you are still fighting the fight of your life to keep your family and the ones you cherish most close to you. Amen sister!!! keep fighting the fight. You have a new life now that you have made...and you deserve it!! Enjoy it and let no one tell you otherwise!!

Anonymous said...

I sent you an invite to my blog...just so you can get to know me and see that I am not a total nut!!! HA!! Or maybe I am!!! :)

Karly said...

To me, genetics/blood do not make family. Giving birth does not entitle you to the privileges of enjoying being a part of the lives of your adult children and grandchildren...that is the reward for a job well done and a relationship that has been nurtured.

{hugs} Lisa.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Lisa.

I completely understand how you feel about this subject. I 'know' what is like to have so many sad memories of your childhood and only few happy ones, (if any happy one at all), I 'know' how painful is to grow up the hard way, I 'know' how deep are the wounds, I 'know' how much they still hurt, I 'know'.

My childhood was similar to yours. I tried to run away once but failed. When I was 21 years old I finally moved out - for good!.
I had to learn to be my best friend & advocate (some sort of what it's called in therapy 'self-parenting'). I had to learn to always do what has to be done to preserve MY happiness and well-being.

Based on your OWN experience, the ONLY and MOST important thing you MUST do is to do what is BEST for YOU, your CHILDREN and your husband.


Chrystal said...

I understand...and I'm still here.

Megan said...

FTR, I don't think you needed to defend yourself. Honestly, imnsho, that is just feeding into her bull shit. But. It's your blog. LOL!

Anonymous said...

I can't say that I can completely understand your life because my life was a cakewalk in comparison to yours.

You have had an extremely hard life and I admire the fight and the struggles that you have had to engage in to get there. And I admire that - you are such a strong person - it would have been so easy to not struggle. But struggle you did and you have so much to show for it - your beautiful children, your own business and the love that your children give you! Rock on!

Kristin said...

Lisa I wish I could give you a hug. You are a strong women. I hope that writing this all out will serve as closure for you work as healing. HUGS again Lisa.

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Asha.
When you used to say you had a hard childhood, I never fathomed it was that awful. I am so sorry Lisa!!!!!

Huge hugs! No child should have endured beatings, and from her boyfriend too? Yeah, right she didn't know.
My heart breaks Honey.

And she thinks you can just "forgive"? Well, you can't get your childhood back and by her posts ( "you added to chaos" WTF???) she sounds like she hasn't changed ONE bit!!
Stay away from this toxic, weak sorry excuse of a person.
Love, Asha.

Larry said...

Hey Lisa - hoping you are doing okay after all the crap your mom has stirred up...while I try to keep an open mind about people and their intentions, benefit of the doubt and all that, One Smart Cookie should realize that there are things in life that are truly UNFORGIVABLE no matter what the circumstances and no matter how many apologies are offered after the fact...and it sounds like she heaped on you many, many such unforgivable acts.

I am sorry that you had to endure such a life as a child :( If she really cares about you as she claims to, she should honor your clear statement of wishes that she stay out of your and your family's life. You certainly don't owe it to her to make her feel better about herself at this late date. Seems like she is just looking for more enabling behavior at this point in her life and it is so right of you to deny her it. Hugs to you and the family - hoping Michael is handling the chemo ok...L

Tricia said...

Amen, sister-friend, Amen.