The Tragic Lives Around Me

I often say I’d rather live alone the rest of my life than live in a hate filled marriage like my parents. It’s true. But sometimes I do have to motivate myself to accept I may live alone the rest of my life.

The loneliness is overwhelming at times. I just want to share a meal with someone. Go to a movie. Hold hands. Go for a walk. Drive to the coast. Visit their family in the midwest. Make vacation plans. Go on a picnic.

After church I usually hit a few charity shops on my way home and I generally feel pretty mellow after the service. Today I noticed I was feeling a bit more down than usual, but that happens. It comes and goes.

I don’t cook as much as I used to before I began to work full time so, since it’s a three day weekend I texted my mom and asked if I could make tacos tonight. It’s her kitchen so I always ask first. She didn’t respond which to me meant something, I just didn’t know what. So after about an hour I texted, “Ma?”

And she wrote back. “Sure hon. If you’re up to it. I’ll pay you when you get home.”

That last sentence just made me wince. I buy food often and I would never, ever asked to be paid back for it. It’s insulting. I don’t know what she was thinking. I wrote, “That’s silly. No thank you.”

So I buy all the stuff and pull up to the house and see that my dad’s truck is gone which is a fairly rare thing. Then I come in and say hi to mom and can barely hear her response, so it’s clear, they’ve been fighting.

She’s got both recently bathed dogs in her lap so dad was probably finishing up with the last dog when they got into it. I imagine it was very ugly and loud. I’m so glad I wasn’t here for it. The dogs looked traumatized — I remember that feeling.

Then my phone dings and I see she messaged me back saying not to have tacos tonight. They aren’t doing well. Maybe tomorrow.

I got out of my Sunday clothes and sat down here and then dad came home and they are very obviously not speaking to one another.

Their lives are so terribly, terribly sad. I blame both of them, please believe me, but the stuff that comes out of my mom’s mouth is quite often enough to make me want to run and scream so I do know how he feels. And he holds in his anger and resentment for days and weeks and then he blows and says really hurtful shit and then she retreats into her sad and pouty mode and they don’t speak for days.

Right now I’m just trying to imagine me having my own small place, maybe next July, about a year from now. And I think how I’ll play Bach loud and I’ll watch BBC iPlayer and I’ll plant things and water things and watch cooking videos.

I’ll paint rooms, I’ll sort through stuff, I’ll sell stuff on eBay. I’ll hang clothes on the line (I plan to put in a clothes line.) I’ll buy a treadmill and use it.

I’ve decided I want to learn about roses and grow them and I will slowly take the grass out and plant fruit trees and berry bushes. I want a really long outdoor table with some sort of awning over it and I want to string lights and turn them on all summer long.

Funny thing to do when you have no friends, but by then I might have a couple of friends. And I can invite people over for dinner, right? Or I’ll just sit and read and enjoy the solitude.

Now I’m wishing this weren’t a three day weekend because they will drag out this fight for days. Dad’s mowing the lawn and mom just said she won’t be eating and is going to lay down now.

I don’t mind telling you that when they do this I get a fair amount of PTSD and here’s why:

My parents married young. Mom was 18 and dad was 20. By their first anniversary they had my brother and then I came along almost two years after him.

But not long after I was born a woman came to the house and knocked on the door. She told my mom that she was pregnant and dad was the father. She didn’t want anything except a little money and she’d go away.

The family (as far as I know the entire extended family) raised $150 for her and she went away, never to be heard from again. Her son, my half brother did look us up when he was 30, but that’s another story.

So mom and dad separate when I’m around one year old and proceed toward divorce but never finalized it. And the next three to four years became a hell for my mother and she took everything out on me.

I was a preemie, so was small and fussy. Her heart was broken by my father’s actions. She adored my brother but hated me. I am not exaggerating. I complicated her life and she resented me fiercely.

I don’t know how often dad visited. I don’t know if he helped provide for us although he has always been a hard worker and provider so I imagine he did. I don’t now how we lived or with whom. I only know that my mother took everything out on me.

How do I know? Well, she took me to lunch one day when I was about 20 and told me. She asked me to forgive her, she said she had never been so miserable and I took the brunt of her misery emotionally and physically. I could not wait to get out of that restaurant and don’t know why she felt the need to tell me when this is all pre-memory stuff. I didn’t ask for more information — I have tried to blank out what she told me. I just wanted to flee.

But then my life began to make sense.

I’ve despised her from my earliest memories. I never felt close to her. I never wanted her touch. I never went to her for comfort. I. HATED. HER.

When I got a little older and walked to the corner every school day to meet my friends and I would greet them daily with, “I hate her. She’s a witch. I hate her.” And I did. I hated her so much. Every morning she’d have me come into her bathroom and she’d take a fine comb and start coming out my tangled, fine hair. It fucking hurt so bad. She did it with utter hatred.

Almost every morning ended with her screening at me and me stomping out of the house, hating her violently.

The older I got the more I was confused by her behavior. I recall at a very young age, about 10 or 11, that she was fighting with me like a kid, and not like a mom. I just really wanted a mom.

Now it would not be so bad if every kid in our household was treated the same, but we weren’t. She idolized my brother. He was involved in Little League and later basketball. Our free time revolved around going to watch him in sports. And my parents knew all his teachers well and he skipped a grade and everyone liked him.

When he was 12 my father took him to Washington, DC to see the White House. He was going to be the next John F. Kennedy. There were no missteps in his upbringing. They were very involved.

But my younger sister and I were merely extra appendages.

Her life was probably almost as tragic, after all, she came into the picture when my mother, separated from my dad for three years, fell pregnant by a married man at her work. So sometime after she was conceived, Dad came home. I think.

Mom sometimes lets little things slip so we’ll never know the full story. She was always a working woman, but money was very tight. This is about 1960 by now. She has talked about how she sewed herself a new maternity outfit every night of the week and worked full time and looked after my brother and I. Then she realizes she’s not mentioning dad so she stops with the story.

It doesn’t matter. But yeah, my sister’s life was bad, too.

So if my mom had just been a bad parent to all of us, well, I could understand the situation a little better. But no, she favored my brother in every way, and still does to this day. It embarrasses him. He was a good brother to me.

Even after my daughter was born. I was only eighteen and by nineteen I was divorced and moved back home with my parents. My dad worked odd shifts so every single Sunday my mom and brother would drive to Newport Beach or Laguna and have brunch at some fancy place. He was in college, naturally.

I’d hear all about it when they got home and I just wished just once that they’d ask me to come along. But no. This was my mother’s quality alone time with her son and no one was allowed to interfere with that, besides, I had nothing to wear to such nice places.

I’ll never know if my mom was a happy go lucky person at one point in her life, perhaps before she knew the pain of infidelity. I don’t know if that is what caused her to be the cruel, petty, selfish person that she is. I don’t know if my dad ever adored her.

I know that she should not have taken him back, because she made him pay over and over and over again for what he did. And she never trusted him again. And by the time the nest was empty, he cheated again and this time he did leave her and they did get divorced.

They were apart for several years, I can’t recall how many, probably ten or so. But eventually dad remarried her because he was working and she had lost her job and had no health insurance. He married her so that she could have health insurance. But they always kept separate rooms from that point. Dad did it out of his Catholic guilt, but mom attempts to convince herself that it is a real relationship. Until it isn’t with a huge fight like today’s.

Because of how my mother abused me, the violence of their own fights, and of the fights mom and I had when dad wasn’t home, I am not normal and I never will be. But it’s only in the last year that I see that I can nurture and love myself and make some repairs.

I’m a truly broken person and due to that I’ve been in bad relationships and I’ve ruined good relationships. Now that my eyes are opened I am no longer young and pretty. In short, I’m fucked.

This is why I am desperate to find meaning in my life outside of a man’s love. Not easy since I’ve been turning to boys/men for love since I was 16 years old.

Sometimes I wonder what’s the point in learning this lesson now when it’s too late to have a good and loving life and partner. Why couldn’t I just have remained ignorant? Knowing the truth just makes things hurt more.

So PTSD, you have no idea of the fights and the violence we grew up with. And when they fight now, I am transported to that time. I’m just a little girl, living in the paradise of Southern California, but in my own secret hell.

I wonder if I should consider moving out sooner rather than later. I’m going to give it some thought. I just get greedy because, for example, right now I am able to have all this dental work done that is long overdue. And if my car broke down I could afford to have it fixed. But when I move out all that will suddenly grind to a halt.

We’ll see. Most of the time, thanks to work, I can handle it here. And regardless of the insane relationship my mom and I have had, I am very grateful to be here.

Their lives are tragic. I don’t want my life to be tragic.



5 responses to “The Tragic Lives Around Me

  1. Oh, ML…
    I am sorry for the sadness you justifiably feel.
    You do not want to be alone and you do not want to partner with someone to be in hateful dysfunction. I so get it.
    Before I go on long as I am so prone, the video is lovely. You did such a wonderful job of capturing images that showed love in people’s eyes.
    No matter which way you look at your life as you know it or as you wish it should have been, it makes me want to some how fit in “a stopped clock is right twice a day”
    There were almost tears running down my face watching your thoughtful video.
    Had I only thought to do something like that… My version of dealing with my family back in the 80’s was driving around rural Maine purchasing very old family photographs from road side yard sales. I organized them in albums and would make up stories for the images of people I had never met as if they were my very own family. How pathetic… in my 20’s trying to re write the past. Just like you, there are many, many photos of my real family with love shining in the faces, but I knew the real back story and wanted to just make a history that was more tolerable.
    Although our stories are different, there is so much tragedy and dysfunction… Until the last 7 years or so, things were not so horrible for me. I actually thought my life could finally begin once my father died in 1997. In a way it did and I created some really wonderful memories, but the memories have been tainted by my cruel x wasband.
    If you can stay in your FOO so that you can take care of your health and dental organize yourself and save some money to be ready to purchase an oasis of your own, do it. FOO stuff is so difficult and I stay in my situation sometimes on a minute by minute basis.
    Please continue to think about your new home with the long table and lights out back. I will even come out and have dinner and visit you. It would be so fun. This is the type of thing I was able to do until the mid 90’s… just get in my car and drive across the country to visit a friend. I want to do things like that once again.
    You are such a thoughtful empathetic woman with so much to offer. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but we have both learned the hard way that our resources are precious and should not be wasted on the undeserving.
    In the mean time, start a dream board with the style of home you want and images of the gardens and interior as you want it. Tell the Universe this is what you want and need.
    Have you checked out the FaceBook page “Emerging From Broken”? There is some really powerful information there about recovering from an abusive childhood where one was not taught by their care takers how to self love. Also, Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) is a wonderful fellowship that promotes gentle self love and self acceptance.
    You will always be a work in process and you will never be the same because of all that has happened, but you do not have to let it take the joy out of your future.
    I say this because you need to embrace the fact that you CAN create a beautiful life of your own without the influence of FOO and past hurts. I also say this because I want this to be how I manifest my future.
    Thank you for your honesty in your posts,

    • ENM, you are right about the stopped clock. And I think it’s clear from that video how much my dad loves his grandkids — I wish I could say the same about mom but alas, she only likes a couple of them.

      Thanks for the reminder to keep on visualizing my future. You’ll be very welcome at my big table under the little lights anytime.

      I guess folks like us, vulnerable kids who suffered at the hands of the people who should have loved them the most are ripe for the picking by narcissists and other sociopaths who want to come along and take advantage of us. And even though I’m learning valuable life lessons very late in life, I am learning them. I am open to learning, observing, changing and so are you. Most people are not willing to reflect and ponder themselves. I think it’s a gift you and I were given.

      Let’s keep moving forward to create this better life because it beats the alternative, right? I didn’t get to catch up with you to find out how it went on Friday w/ your lawyer. I’m off due to the holiday tomorrow so if you get a chance, get in touch and update me.

      Thank you for being my friend.


  2. This is all beautiful. Just keep telling your story. This is a journey and you are learning so much. You’re growing. You are ready for sharing and adventure. Stick out the house as long as you can. You’ll get there.

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