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Comment posted to April 27, 2010 post +THE SPIDER, THE LIZARD, AND ‘DEAD’ MOTHERS
Since you were such a focus in your “mom’s” life for 18 years, I wonder how she felt when you left home? How did she release her rage after you were gone? Who did she turn to next because we know it wasn’t about you–it was about her!
An event my sister told me about coincided very closely with my leaving home. Shortly after my parents ‘put me in the Navy’, my father for the first time lost it with my mother.
My (‘mild mannered’) father became enraged at my mother (FINALLY), and putting both his hands around her neck lifted her off of the floor (she was not a small woman), and while pressing her back into the ‘family room’ stone fireplace chimney wall, nearly throttled her to death. When my sister came home from school my mother was still shaking and sobbing, with nasty red marks around her throat.
My sister told me that nothing in the home, between my parents, or with my mother was the same after that. Because my father’s rage outbreak and the choking happened so closely to the time I left the scene of my mother’s crimes, I do suspect these events are related to one another, and to your question.
According my sisters, my mother never showed anything but the most minimal interest in her children after this (my leaving or the choking?) event. She ignored my sisters who did anything they wanted. The abuse incidents that my baby brother described (see: https://stopthestorm.wordpress.com/my-siblings-comment-page/brother-1965s-pages/family-time-by-brother-1965/) happened right around this same time, showing that her capacity to abuse had not diminished.
Her following disinterest in life and in her children was a far more fortunate turn for my siblings than more of what my brother described. My mother took the children to Tucson for the rest of my sisters’ high school years, and there was great strain in the marriage though they did not divorce for another 10-12 years.
I made the mistake of taking my year old daughter for a Christmas visit to Tucson when I was 20. My father was there, not sure what the actual living arrangements were between my parents at that time – but my mother was right back into her terrible abuse of me mode with my father supporting her. Among other things, I was accused of traveling all the way from Fargo to my mother’s home just so I could USE her – to give my baby girl a bath in my mother’s bathtub.
When she flew into her abusive rage I was as terrified of her as ever! She did not hit me, but her verbal abuse was substantial. My father ‘snuck’ me and my daughter out of the house in the middle of the night. He drove us to the airport, bought a return ticket home for the next available flight for my baby and I, and left us to wait alone in the airport for hours before the flight left.
At that time I still had no mind of my own to even THINK about her abuse of me. There was no space, no distance, between me, my mother, and my experience of her abuse. That visit to Tucson, even after all that happened to me as a child, remains one of the most traumatic memories that I have – I think because I was older and the memory never became dissociated, and because my father took such an active part in it.
At one point, after she had stood at the guest room door with me and my baby cornered in the room, screaming at me about what a horrible daughter I had always been, how I had destroyed her life and her and my father’s marriage, how I was a curse on her life, the most evil daughter anyone ever had – she screamed for my father to “come here” – and when he reached the doorway my mother stepped to the side and told my father, “Tell her. Tell her you agree with me. Tell her I am right.”
I have never forgotten watching him take her place in the doorway as he mouthed her exact litany against me, not with raised voice and wild, wide eyes like my mother’s, but for the first time in my life he SAID her exact words to me. I was stunned, horrified and hurt beyond words.
So, things no doubt DID change when I left home, but there was no possibility of those changes actually being GOOD ones. There really was no potential for goodness in my mother (and I mean that PHYSIOLOGICALLY). My mother never stopped talking to my siblings about how BAD I was until they finally, one by one, severed their contact with her as everyone aged. I was ALWAYS her chosen target, and because her full-blown psychosis had me at its core, nobody else could take that place. My mother became more ‘strange’ as she aged, more distraught publicly until she withdrew into the confines of her shabby motel room where she went through the rest of her living and dying alone (with the exception of the one Alaskan woman who kept some contact with her until my mother died).
(By the way, this visit to Tucson was the first time my parents had seen their first grandchild. I guess I would have to add ‘Dead Grandparents’ to the title of this post!)
Wow! The balance of your very dysfunctional family profoundly changed when you left home. As disturbing as this sounds, your mother was able to function in her role as a wife and mother somewhat effectively because she acted out her shame-based and toxic childhood through her abuse of you. Was she finally confronted with her own rage/shame/violence? Was your father finally forced to see your mother differently because the “buffer” was gone? It does not sound like your mother or father ever found equilibrium in their relationship or their family after you were banished from your home! After 18 years of trying to destroy you she failed and ended up destroying her family and ultimately herself.