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Submitted on 2009/05/30 at 8:29am
Linda, Wouldn’t it interesting if you could have actually asked your mother these questions? I’m sure her only answer would be physical violence towards you. Just reading them reflects her severe delusions!
The place your mother’s craziness losses credibility with me is in the fact that she was able to care for your siblings in a more “normal” way. She knew the right way to raise your siblings. She knew it was not appropriate to scream at them and beat them on a daily basis. She had her public face where she played the good mother. She was able to “play” the good mother because she knew (loosely) what a good mother should do. In private (and unfortunately, there was so much privacy), she took all her frustrations out on an innocent child. Did she know the consequences of treating you malevolently in public? I think so because she knew it was wrong.
I know your siblings were profoundly affected by your mother’s treatment of you. They lived in a war zone but you were in the war.
Submitted on 2009/05/30 at 12:52pm
My mother’s childhood play life was nearly completely consumed with playing alone with dolls within the universe she created with her own imagination. Every year, as she told us, she asked her mother for a baby sister. Her mother would say, “We’ll see.” And every birthday and Christmas my mother would receive the gift of another doll. She still had her whole china doll collection when she married. My father still had his Model T. My mother made him get rid of his car and he made her get rid of her dolls.
Then she began having ‘doll babies’ of her own, and I’m not at all convinced that her mind ever knew the difference between a real live baby and a doll. If I think about it in terms of her sitting each one of her 6 children in a separate chair and then assigning them a personality and a role to play in her imaginary family, I was the doll who was all bad, my one sister was the doll who could do no wrong. Her Alaskan ‘boys’ each had a role and a personality assigned to them.
She just treated each of her dolls according to her thoughts ABOUT them which had nothing whatsoever to do with us being real, individual people. She did not have the ability to relate to people as people. How she treated me in public was more related to what was ‘proper’ (being raised in Boston, proper was important). Borderlines have a very rigid framework for public vs private, and she played that part to perfection.
I remember a time when I was about 11 years old and we had all gone to a restaurant to eat. (She made a point of taking us off of the mountain, as she put it, and into restaurants to eat about once a month so nobody would ever think we had been raised in the ’sticks’, and so that we could practice our public manners.) On this day as we exited the restaurant an incoming female customer paused as she held the door open for us to come out. I remember she looked at each of us 3 girls separately, her eyes meeting mine and scanning around my face. She then said to my mother, “What beautiful daughters you have.” She looked directly at me, in front of my mother, and said, “You have such perfect eyebrows!”
I heard about that later. How vain and conceited I was, how I thought I was better than everyone else, that I was really truly ugly on the inside, that I couldn’t fool my mother like I had fooled this woman, that if anyone had to raise me like she did they would know the truth about what a horrible person I was……and on and on and on for months after this. Why did she not haul off and whack me across the face in front of this woman? Why did she wait until she was out of public view? Was it because she wanted to absolutely control what other people thought of her and how they saw her as a ‘perfect mother’? What was going through her mind even as that woman was speaking those words to me? Obviously hatred of me. Or hatred of the other bad half of herself that she had invested in me and projected onto me?
The memory — of standing on the short nap carpet of that restaurant entry way, surrounded by varnished knotty pine boards that ran floor to ceiling, having just passed the jukebox that my mother had only a few minutes prior put money into to play the “Big Bad John” song in honor of my brother, touching my sister’s bodies as we stood at a standstill in that small space as the woman holding the door gazed upon us girls — listening to this woman’s words spoken directly TO ME — like I was alive, I existed, I was a person — feeling warm and glowy inside as she spoke those words to me — and forgetting completely for those few seconds about my mother and about what would happen to me after those words were spoken — is a memory that is emblazoned within me.
Even though I had to pay the usual and common price of much ongoing pain and suffering from my mother’s reaction to that instant, that woman gave me what became one of the most precious gems I could then carry within me for the duration of my childhood. She had given me something that had actually for a split-second made me feel good about myself inside of myself. My mother, no matter how hard she worked at it, could never take that gem away from me. That woman’s comment was given directly to the me that was and is Linda.
It’s interesting to me that when I lost all my hair from chemo, my eyebrows did not grow back. Every day I have to draw them on, and often I think about this woman and how she gave me that most precious gift.
What was this? Obviously abuse. Where did it come from? I see no way to understand it except that it came from a sick, sick mind. When I get to the point in my writings of exploring how the competition behavioral system intertwines with the attachment and caregiving systems, I will describe how the predatory nature of my mother operated through her competition (for resources) with me. How deprived and scarcity-based was her inner world that her mind, her whole being would focus on me as being in competition with her for whatever resources their were in her world — my father’s attention being a big one.
If her psychotic break indeed happened during labor, she would have had no idea that I was going to be born a daughter. If however, it was at the point that I was actually born and she knew I was a girl that her psychosis originated, then the whole ‘the devil sent me to kill her in labor’ aspect could have been applied in retrospect concerning the events prior to my birth. I still believe that she was given the drug Twilight Sleep during our labor, an extremely dangerous drug for any woman who had a fragile psyche prior to delivery. It induced psychotic hallucinations in every woman under its influence. Healthier woman could ‘forget’ the psychosis along with the pain of delivery afterward. Not so with my mother.
My sister just told me she has pages of writings she discovered in her possession my mother wrote in 1984, supposedly connected to family history, within which my mother takes off on a very strange rambling discourse of how when she was growing up her grandmother and mother would close themselves behind doors and talk for hours and hours while my mother was shut out, alone, on the other side. I want to read those writings.
I do not believe that even given the circumstances of my difficult birth that my mother’s psychosis would have evolved the way it did if I had been born a boy. I think deeply implanted (infesting) her psyche was a prohibition against being angry at the men in her early life. A girl could simply become the ‘bad Mildred’.
As far as how she treated me in public, mothers are ‘nice’ in public. Children are ‘proper and nice’ in public. I do not believe my mother had the ability to think above, around, or outside of herself consciously. She could not ’second guess’ except on an unconscious level so that she followed the social rules — in public, as a psychotic Borderline would. She was an automatic rage and hatred machine toward me. Everything about my being alive was some kind of a trauma trigger to her. How conscious was she? Did she know she was making her choices?
Oh, but could that ‘pretty eyebrows’ woman have simply reached out and taken my hand into hers and led me away from my life with my mother, into another, better world.
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I wish she could have taken you, too! It would be nice to have a happy ending to the story!
I have 3 children ages 13, 11 and 9. Even though I came from an abusive, dysfunctional family, I could never imagine saying one word of the litany of words your mother said to you after the eyebrow compliment. When I look at my sweet, sensitive children, the very thought of that degree of hurt breaks my heart into a million pieces.