I pretty much hated my mother. Never really understood why, but I did. It baffled me every time I contemplated it throughout the years. But I could never figure it out, so I always ended up having to shrug it off as just one of those weird things I might never understand. I have a lot of those weird kinds of things. That I don’t think I’ll ever understand. They haunt me constantly.
Today, Mother’s Day, it hit me. The reason I hated her. She was the reason I had to keep the secret.
My dad used her weakness, her sickness, her emotional frailty, to hold me prisoner. He always told me not to tell because if I did, my mother would kill herself and it would be entirely my fault. All I had to do was keep the secret and she would be fine…well, she would at least live. But if I told anyone, she would die and I would be to blame. So I suffered through the years of sexual abuse and shielded her and everyone else from the sick nightmare I had to live through so they wouldn’t have to endure the consequences. Of what was happening to me.
If she had been less self-focused, stronger, less depressed, less manipulative, more nurturing, more of a presence, I would have had someone to go to with all of the pain and confusion and terror and destruction. There would have been arms to encircle me. There would have been a place of shelter. But there was none. No one. Nowhere to go, no one to turn to. And the secret remained hidden. Untold. The massive damage was kept inside. The shell walked on. All because my mother was too weak to hear the truth of what was happening to her daughter.
I have doubts about whether or not she knew. It happened right under her nose at times, but I certainly never told her and she never once said anything about her despondent, broken daughter. She never seemed to wonder what had happened to destroy me.
I hated her for not being there. I hated her because I couldn’t tell her the truth. I hated her because she didn’t want to know the truth. I hated her for being so weak. And for loving herself so much that she sacrificed me so she wouldn’t have to deal with the pain. I hated her because my dad was right; if she couldn’t ignore it any longer, she wouldn’t have been able to handle that she was married to a pervert. If she couldn’t pretend that reality was really unreality, she would have probably snapped. Don’t know that she would have killed herself. I think she was too important to herself to do that; everything was about her, after all. Truth be told, she pretty much hated me too. So she might have killed me. Which might not have been a bad thing, all things considered.
She’s been dead since the fall of 2002. It was a relief when she died. But at least the mystery has finally been solved. Happy Mother’s Day, mom. I finally understand why I disliked you so intensely. Turns out, it makes sense after all.