Mothers. We wouldn't be here without them. Sometimes they can be the most wonderful people in the world. Other times, not so much.
My mother was not a kind woman. At least not to her children. My older siblings always tell me that they had it worse than me. My youngest older sibling (I have three older and one younger) is nine years older than me. They say my mother was worse when they were growing up. I have no basis for comparison. I wasn't around then.
But my mother was bad enough when I was growing up. She always belittled me, hit me over the tiniest provocation, and kept me isolated so no one would know what she was doing. Growing up I thought this was normal and sought my escape in books and writing, two pastimes she allowed me because she herself was a reader and a writer. It kept me from asking questions and allowed me to escape from her. So I dug myself deep into the writings of her favorite authors and expanded from there thanks to school libraries.
There were books I brought home that my mother insisted on reading first. She would force me to take them back, unread, because they were “inappropriate” in her eyes. As I got older, she stopped reading what I brought home and I found all sorts of things she didn't want me to know about. I learned about same sex pairings reading Mercedes Lackey. I found out about sex scenes reading some romance author I no longer remember the name of.
This didn't mean the abuse stopped. But it gave me an escape. I tried moving out on my own when I was twenty. I was back home within a year. My mother's controlling ways and constant verbal and emotional abuse continued. I left home at twenty two. I went to Job Corps. It was there I found out that what my mother did wasn't normal and that I could have a life of my own where she didn't control me.
I moved in with Himself's family for a while before we went out and got our own place. A part of me still expected the kind of abuse I got from my mother and I would cringe every time Himself got angry at me. I wanted to get past it but my mother's legacy still haunted me. I took Himself home with me for Christmas one year and was completely shocked by how civil my mother was to the both of us.
Then Himself and I had our break in September 2001. We lived in Washington. I took the Greyhound home and got into Boise at 2 AM. My dad picked me up and I was back at my parents' house at 2:30. I expected mom to be in bed, was expecting to be raged at and belittled for my poor choice in a boyfriend.
Instead my mom was up in her green nightgown with the old red shawl I remember so well wrapped around her shoulders. She saw me and opened up her arms. I started sobbing and was enveloped in arms and a shawl. She took me to a couch and told me he was the one who'd lost a treasure, how it was obvious he didn't know what I was worth. Everything I'd come to expect from her was turned completely around. We talked until 7 AM when I finally fell asleep on the couch. That was 9/11 so you can imagine I didn't get much sleep but my mother was there.
The last two years of her life were like a dream for me. Here, this woman I saw, I talked to, I lived with for a brief period until I got married, she was the mother I'd wanted all my life. I learned my mother was bipolar and was finally diagnosed and getting treatment.
I lost my mother two years after I came home from Washington to cancer. She went from diagnosis to death in three weeks. I railed against it for a long time, crying about how she'd been taken from me just when I was getting to know the real person behind the mental illness. Then I realized that I was thankful for those two years. And I still am.