It's Complicated

Whew. Where do I start?

My mother grew up rich and wild in Palm Beach, Florida, in the sixties. Her father owned several businesses, which allowed him to shower his children and wife with anything they could ask for. My grandmother drove a Rolls Royce at one point, and once that became out of fashion, my grandfather would buy her a new Cadillac every year. They lived in a prominent neighborhood, in a large house with a swimming pool. They never worried about food or clothing or whether the bills would be paid- they just assumed it would always be there. And for years, it was.

In the 1970s, my grandfather made a bold move and sold his businesses to move to Tennessee, where he had fallen in love with the mountains. He and my grandmother moved my mother and her siblings with them, and they started anew in a small town, where my grandparents were well-liked and warmly received. (Their wealth could have had something to do with it. lol) But my grandfather's attempted business ventures in the new town all failed for reasons unknown to me, and their saved money eventually ran out, and so my mother and her siblings were forced to branch out on their own and make their own living.

My mother (perhaps because of her privileged upbringing) is terrible with money. She blows every single dime she makes on frivilous things instead of paying her bills. My grandparents were constantly bailing her out of her hardships. She married, had me, and bought her own house, and thought she could still live her wild party lifestyle despite her new responsibilities, but was proven very wrong. She and my father fought constantly (over money, according to my father; other women, according to my mother) and when I was 3 years old, they divorced. My father left, leaving my mother the sole caretaker of me- a task she didn't think too carefully about. My childhood was full of house parties, strangers walking around drunk and high, loud music pulsing throughout the entire house when I was trying to sleep, and my emotional needs were put on the back burner.

When I was 5, my mother married again and became pregnant with my brother. The marriage was rocky from the start (my mother tends to like younger men, who aren't ready for responsibility- she and they have much in common). My new stepfather didn't like the fact that I was someone else's kid and he let me know any chance he could. I remember being given the cold shoulder from him, and later, my mother sitting back and allowing him to take his frustration and anger out on me- sometimes with belts, sometimes with limbs, sometimes with extrension cords. Once, when I was 7, he and my mother took turns beating me severely with a thorny limb. I went to school the next day covered in little pinprick wounds. Another time, my stepfather beat me so badly with a belt that there were bruises and cuts from the buckle all over my legs, back, and backside. My father tried to take full custody of me, but the courts sided with my mother because my father was an alcoholic. My stepdad was abusive toward my mother, as well, and I remember once he shoved her down a few steps while she had my baby brother in her arms.

When their marriage finally ended, I was relieved, but it would be short-lived. My mother became bitter at having been left again to take care of two small children by herself. She took it out on me, since I was old enough to "take it" compared to my baby brother. She would lock me outside in the rain, leave me home alone for hours (I was 8!!), and would entrust my care to anyone who would watch me for a cheap price, which led to further abuses by babysitters. I quickly learned that my mother was to be feared, not trusted.

I developed into a painfully shy and frightened child, never speaking at school, never making any friends because I didn't trust anyone. My grades suffered, which lead to name-calling and other verbal and emotional abuses, and when my mother got angry, no matter what the reason, I was the scapegoat. I took the beatings, the yelling, the name-calling, the ignoring, the neglect. I didn't know anything different. When I was 13, my mother accepted a job as an over-the-road truck driver. She was gone for months at a time for years, leaving me to take care of my brother. I was responsibile for getting him awake in the morning, making sure he had breakfast and got dressed for school, both of us on the bus on time, and after school, I was the one who made sure he was fed, did homework, bathed, and got to bed at a decent hour. It was difficult. My brother had anger issues, and he had ADHD, which made his focus poor, his energy high, and to top it off, he didn't see me as an authority since I was only his sister. I would spend hours each night trying to clean, do laundry, force my brother to stay in bed, get my homework done, and stop worrying about everything long enough to fall asleep. When I finally would fall asleep, it would be about 3 in the morning, and I had to get up every morning at six.

The longer my mother stayed gone, the less food we would have in the house and the longer the bills would go without being paid. Our cupboards were bare on almost every occasion, and several times our water or electricity would be shut off for lack of payment. I remember having to go for days without showers or toilet flushes, and begging neighbors to let us shower at their house. When the electricity would be cut off, I remember having to eat peas and beans right out of the can, and take freezing showers. Our neighbors quickly caught on to what my brother and I were going through, and many of them would bring us food or let us eat dinner with them whenever we wanted, but I was always so ashamed of taking charity that many times, I would turn them down. Then I would feel like a horrible person because my brother had to eat canned peas again for dinner.

Once I found a box of my mother's checks in one of her drawers, and I would forge checks in her name to pay the bills and keep the utilities on. My mother found out and quickly put a stop to it, which left us in the dark again. When she would come home for a couple of days (never longer), she had no time for me or my brother. I remember my heart breaking when my brother would follow her around like a puppy, afraid he would miss one second with her, and she would push him away because she had to do laundry or catch up on her sleep before she headed back out. Eventually my brother turned to me for attention, which made my life even harder, because now I had to entertain him as well as care for him, and I was only 15 years old. My grades went down the toilet, my social life was non-existent, and I was a tired housemother while all of my friends were living their teenage care-free lives.

Eventually someone notified the Department Of Children's Services about my brother and I being neglected. Social workers were beating our door down, trying to get us to answer questions that would entrap my mom and give them reason to take us from the home. Knowing that my brother and I would possibly be separated if I didn't paly my cards right, I lied through my teeth. I told them, "Oh, you JUST missed her- she left this morning!" and other lies. When they got nowhere with me, they would visit my brother at school and interrogate him. I would instruct him to lie as well. I feel badly about that now, but I didn't want us to be seperated. When my mother found out about DCS's interests, she took it out on me, accusing me of being ungrateful and accusing me of calling DCS myself just to cause her more trouble. When she was home, we did nothing but fight. I no longer cowered before her, and she hated that. Any chance she could, she attacked me.

We lived our lives that way for years, until one day, after a particularly heated argument, my mother physially and brutally attacked me from behind. I snapped. I screamed at the top of my lungs and told her that if she ever laid a hand on me again, I would have her *** thrown in jail before she could blink. She kicked me out of her house. I was 18. I got a job and moved out, leaving my mother no choice but to take my brother out of school and have him do home-schooling while he went out on the road with her.

My mother and I didn't speak for 4 years. We eventually began speaking again, but she hasn't changed. She is still much like a child herself, wanting everything to go her way, with no consideration for anyone else involved. We do not get along. If we are together for longer than 2 hours at a time, we fight. I can't respect her. She has grown older and now tries to buy my affections and act sickly-sweet, pretending that she doesn't remember any of the horror she put her kids through. It doesn't work- I will never be close to her, and I will never trust her.

The only good that came from all of it was the fact that it caused my brother and me to be really close, even as adults. Once, after a few drinks at a party, my brother announced to everyone present that if it hadn't been for his big sister, he didn't know where he would have ended up by now. And though that doesn't make up for the emotional scars and trust issues I have developed, it makes me thankful that I was able to be there for him, when no one else was.

My issues with my mother will probably never be resolved, but I guess we each have our crosses in life to bear.


SpiritOfTheRabbit SpiritOfTheRabbit
36-40, F
3 Responses Jul 18, 2010

Thank you both for your sweet comments. How kind. :)

Yes you have been through alot. I agree that I wish you would of had a better up bringing. I am 18 years old right now....the only thing that has ever happened to me was growing up alone and not having any friends or your family not seeing or noticing you or even trying to hear you out abouth the way you feel. I'm just a loner but you really had some thing happen in your life and I am sorry that has happened that way for you but I will say that the lord doesn't give a person what they can't handle and those who keep falling and get back up are the ones who succeed in life and you are most definitly one of those people.

You have been through a lot. I wish your life would have been different for you.