She Was a Ghost

Even from a very early age, I knew there was something "not right" with my mother.  She was so distant and removed from life, as if she was just a ghost, walking aimlessly on this earth. 

She has always been somewhat of a workaholic and pragmatic to the extreme.  She would work long hours at the office and, when she came home, she always put on the same "uniform" (a full-length, flannel robe that covered her arms, her chest and all the way down to her feet).  Once home and in this uniform, she would make dinner but never once did she sit down and eat with us.  She never sat with us and watched any type of show or movie on the television.  She never asked about my homework.  She never helped me with any school work.  She never encouraged me to do anything or be anything or go anywhere.  She never took me to practice (track / basketball) and she never attended a meet or a single game.  She was always keeping herself busy, with odd jobs and chores around the house.  When she wasn't cleaning, she was on the phone.  I am talking hours upon hours upon hours on the phone, every day and every night.  And, if we were in the car (this is the days, obviously, before cell phones) she would talk to herself.  I would be right there, next to her, but she didn't address me ~ she would just mutter to herself. 

What I didn't know, at that point, was the abuse she was suffering from my father.  I learned much later in life that he abused her mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually.  He was also cheating on her, with at least two different women that I knew of.  Who knows how many more there were.  My mother was also brought up with a lot of abuse ~ from her mother, who was mentally ill and who shipped her off to boarding schools.

My mother had three boys, adopted me when she decided she wanted a little girl (but had a lot of complications in subsequent pregnancies) and...voila, got pregnant four years after adopting me...with a little girl.  My grandmother told me that once my sister was born, my mother just ignored me.  Now, I knew this.  Who couldn't notice the lack of love, attention and relationship with one's own mother?  But, hearing it from someone else...well, it really hit home.  For me, she had very little time and always seemed bothered by my mere presence.  I was not the little girl she really wanted.  I was a tom-boy from the start and hated wearing dressed and having long hair and doing any of those girly things. 

My sister, on the other hand, was the daughter my mother always wanted ~ she loved all things pink and pretty and frilly and girly.  She wore little red shoes (resembling tap shoes or mary jane's) for YEARS.  She slept in my mother's bed (after the divorce) until she was almost 8.  She had long blonde with big blue eyes and was so beautiful and feminine ~ you couldn't help but lover her. 

But my brothers received my mother's attention, too.  Well, most of them anyways.  My oldest brother did his own thing and seemed to be quite content to do so.  My second oldest brother was alot like my father and, after the divorce, was given his own apartment (bills paid by my dad ~ he was still a teenager!) and dropped out of school, did a lot of drugs and began a life of petty-crime and addiction.  As an adult, he now gets all sorts of attention from my mother, to the point of co-dependency and her enabling him of his addictions.  (I think she's always felt guilty about him).  My youngest brother is the other favorite of my mother's.  He can do no wrong and never has, in her eyes.  He's the one that used to beat me to the point of putting my head through walls and choking me until I almost passed out.  He's the one I called my mother on, to tell her how badly he was beating which her response was no more than "deal with it yourself" as she hung up on me.  He's also the one that hit me square in the face, at the dinner table in front of my mother, causing my chair to fall which her reaction to me was, "You started it." 

Over the years, I have struggled with my resentment, jealousy and anger.  They are struggles I continue to deal with every day. 

As an adult, the relationship I have with my mother is surface-level.  Yes, we talk on the phone and yes, we visit her when we are back in town, but I no longer pine for her affections and I no longer hope for her acceptance.  I no longer need it and I no longer want it.  I realize now what a strong and beautiful person I am, having grown up with her, like that...and yet still have love in my heart for her.  But, even further to that, I realize that she really did the best that she could, with the "tools" that she was given in life.  It is a vicious cycle...but, as I've said in other entries, that cycle stops here, with me.  I continue to heal and to grow every day, so that I can be happy with the person that I am ~ but also so I can be the best person I can possibly be, for my sons.                                       

hippieheart hippieheart
41-45, F
8 Responses Feb 11, 2008

An update, if you will...<br />
<br />
My mother recently visited me, alone, and we had intense, no-holds-barred conversations. I was able to ask her a lot of questions that had been on my mind all these years and she was able to explain a lot of things that really only make sense once you're an adult and have gone through some of the same, difficult sacrifices. I walked away from that visit with a new outlook on life...and a new and deeper understanding of her, her actions, her past, her experiences. <br />
<br />
The resentment and anger in my heart has left. It has been replaced with a great sense of calm, a deeper sense of knowing and an appreciation for this life, exactly as it has been. I wouldn't change anything.

Bravo, girl !<br />
Your story resembles mine. But in my case, my mother used to beat me, abuse me and all that. I keep switching to depression. I had a very very bad childhood. <br />
I wish from the bottom of my heart that you'll be alright. <br />
I just wish you could be my sister, so we could share with each other.

isn't it awful the things our parents did to us? and why we even keep them in our lives, I don't know. my mother too, was uncapable of mothering...I won't even go into details but to say that the most current "hurt" she's caused me was to not show up to my wedding. of coarse I'm the bad one in the situation, my older sister & I have "turned against her" & I'm quite sure she has no idea why. <br />
<br />
The only thing we can do is what we're doing, make a conscience decision to move forward & to never do the same to our children. <br />
<br />
Peace, Joy, Love & Blessings to All.

Oh, my.<br />
Your story gave me chills. I am so sorry you had to endure that. My mom treated me the exact same way. It sounds (seriously now) almost exactly like my mom. I have just found out that I am not a product of my mother, I am a product of one of my aunts, pawned off as my mothers, because lost her baby, and she was trying to trap a man, saying I was his. After he died when I was 4, she had no use for me at all, but was always present for my older siblings. I was on auto pilot after that. Like you, my mom never came to any sports gathering, or choir performance, nothing at all. I was raised by nannies. I saw my "aunt" again, after not seeing her for 30 years, (I am 42) this past Christmas, and was finally able to put the whole puzzle together. As soon as I started asking questions, her ENTIRE family shut down on me, thus further validating my theory.<br />
Anyway, I am sorry. I didn't wanna ramble on about me, but I just want you to know that I can understand the misunderstood emptiness you must have felt as a child. It cripples me to this day, trying to undo this emotional virus that I was given so that I might be able to be more present for my little girl who is 5. Hang in there. You will get through this.

I bet your mother tells herself that she treated you all the same and loved you all the same. That is always what my mother said when I accused her of favortism. She had to know I couldn't possibly believe her. As far as I know I am her biological child if that makes you feel any better. My mother was a phoneaholic and I can hardly stand them anymore except for necessity.<br />
<br />
It is possible that your mother didn't want to burden you with her problems since you were a child. <br />
<br />
Even knowing she did the best she could is like having to forgive a car mechanic for almost correctly putting new breaks on one's car after surviving the crash. Darn I really wish he had gotten that right!!! <br />
<br />
It could be worse I suppose. I could have had my sister for a mother like my poor nieces and nephew.

wow...I don't know what else to say, Babyblueeyesfun, other than thank you. Makes me feel better, having shared my story with others that read them and are affected by them somehow. Guess that's how the world goes 'round...a little push, a little shove, a little give, a little take, a little nudge...

You are my hero.

Thank you both for your comments. I suppose we are all survivors, really, of our own personal demons, whatever they be. Our challenge in life is to become a survivor and not a casualty or a victim...or, worse, one that perpetuates any bad situation.