Sunday, May 07, 2006

Some thoughts on Mother's Day...

C-Money and this bitch were in the bookstore yesterday and it suddenly hit me that Mother’s Day is almost upon us.

Mother’s Day is a complicated thang and a bitch is compelled to purge some thoughts on the topic.

A bitch does not have a relationship with my mother. And she is still living, so folks have the hardest time filtering that shit and this bitch has a hard time explaining it. Some folks attempt to do a mini-intervention. It is rather sweet and this bitch tries to be understanding, but the reasons for our lack of a relationship are the type of reasons most people are blessed to not have any fucking understanding of.

Mothers love their chil’ren and chil’ren love their mothers…that is the social understood and those of us who have a different experience are confronted daily with that shit. There are exceptions made for physical abuse and sexual abuse, but mental abuse…well, that is still seen as a matter of degree by the majority. Most people can not imagine a parent doing anything that warrants a severing of all ties.

This brings a bitch to Mother’s Day and people’s well intentioned assumptions about a bitch and my mother.

"You’re mother must be so proud of you."

"You must have an awesome mother."

Nope, this bitch’s mother is a hot mess walking and my ass is a survivor of the nuclear meltdown that is her life.

A bitch did not grow up with unconditional maternal love. There were some serious conditions and they were ever changing just to keep you on your toes and from ever meeting them. That was the game and it was played with tragic regularity.

People understand physical bruises and scars…we have been educated on the manipulation practiced by sexual abusers and the lasting impact of that type of abuse. But tell someone that your mother was mentally and verbally abusive…that your scars don’t show…and you are greeted with skeptical disdain. The more together you are the less people believe you.

Really fucked up people just stay fucked up, right?

Not exactly.

This bitch was trained from birth to be manipulated. For years, my ass greeted confrontation and critique with an automatic apology. The notion that something was not my fault was foreign…everything was always my fault. So, my ass was sorry that my co-workers car broke down…sorry that the printer was on the blitz…sorry that the economy sucked and so on.

At 15 a bitch hit an emotional wall. My world was shit and my mother was the great dictator of all things in it…my days were good if she was in a good mood and miserable if she was in a bad one.

Jump. How high?

Try. Try harder!

Produce…grades, trophies…tangible evidence that you were worth the stretch marks and sacrifice…the denial and aggravation.

Day in and day out…week after week…month after month and year after year. And then 15…and a bitch planned my escape. One way or another, my ass was going to flee. To what, a bitch had no idea. Just run…go and get out…end it or escape…anything but more of the same. Anything but a lifetime of this misery…this unworthiness…this inadequacy and shame.

A bitch was saved by admission to an early college. There is no doubt in my mind that going to school instead of staying for my senior year of high school save my life.

That first year of college changed everything and was worth the debt my ass took on to achieve it. It also illuminated just how toxic my life had been.

My ass learned through observation how to to live. Perhaps that is why a bitch was drawn to Anthropology. A bitch learned how to interact, debate and listen. My ass learned how to select food, cross the street…and that a bitch wasn’t too stupid to do those things, too challenged to do them right, too weak to make decisions or too fucked up to not get my ass killed.

Being apart from my mother was the greatest education of all. All the experiences that my ass missed and all the learning moments that my ass was denied flooded in. One giant glaring light focused on what was versus what should have been…what was lacking when my ass was locked up in that pretty little ranch house on the tidy little street in that perfect little suburb in the county.

My relationship with my mother never recovered, but the power of her title…the power of motherhood kept her in my life for years after college.

You’ll never have friends.

No one will ever love you.

You’re stupid and naive and the worst mistake of my life.

Power, domination and control with harsh words lashing out and hitting their mark despite my successes and triumphs, despite my wonderful circle of friends…despite it all my ass couldn’t see her for who she really was.

Then a bitch got sick…fibroids and periods that lasted for weeks…pain and treatment…anxiety and an unavoidable surgical solution. A bitch was barely talking to my mother when my surgery was scheduled. My 20’s were coming to an end and a bitch was tired of the predictability of it all…the harsh confrontations over fictional slights…the automatic apologies that my ass no longer meant.

A bitch entered the hospital to have my fibroids removed. It was surgery and there were risks. A bitch was going on medical leave for 6 weeks post surgery to recover. C-Money flew back to Texas and was my rock. My mother showed up the morning of surgery and was my nightmare.

The best part of surgery is that the drugs kick in afterward and you simply don’t give a shit about anything but breathing. It is all a blur. A girlfriend had gallantly offered to take on the task of keeping my mother away from C-Money afterward, but her presence didn’t stop the inevitable nastiness. C-Money had secured a dawg walker for Betsey the sorta-beagle…a bitch wasn’t supposed to move or lift anything heavy and Betsey needed exercise…my mother felt that this was indulgent bullshit.

She left after causing nasty scene.

She left…while my ass was still hooked up to machines.

She left...and she was never really there.

She stormed out of the hospital room and never came back. A bitch remained in that fucking bed for two more days. She didn’t call when we went home or for several days following. She finally called four days later and demanded an apology.

She didn’t get one.

That surgery, that moment and my mental and physical recovery…well, that was my second birth.

A bitch does not have a relationship with my mother…and what existed before was anything but maternal.

A bitch no longer apologizes for shit my ass didn’t do. My ass enjoys the tiny tasks that were so long lorded over me as too complex for me to accomplish…balancing my checkbook, paying my bills, making choices, expressing anger and displeasure, enjoying the act of living and the joy of fucking up without fearing retribution and punishment.

And amazingly, a bitch feels certain…to my core certain…that my ass understands Mother’s Day better than most.

No one savors the taste and texture of food like someone who has known hunger.

So a bitch celebrates the mother figures that have been there for me over the years.

And this bitch is liberated and grateful for it… a survivor, and powerful because of it.

There is joy in this life.

That is what my ass celebrates on Mother’s Day.


Anonymous said...

Trust me, I understand that of which you speak even though I did not suffer the same experience. Maybe it's just that caring, the potential loving woman known as mother in me. The blessing is that you survived and are here to share your sweet, brutal honesty. So Happy Mother's Day to you ABB, for loving and nuturing yourself.

Anonymous said...

I was crying as I read this. I am a stranger to you but please know that your words bring comfort to me.

Thank you for sharing this in a place where a person like me, who needed these words, found them.

I enjoy your writing and wish you well.

The Red Queen said...

I think our mothers are cut from the same foul smelling cloth. I stopped speaking to mine when it became clear that the same abuse she had heaped on me was about to be heaped on my child. That was 3 years ago- and it's been the best three years of my life ever since.

Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Powerful stuff. And I know just what you mean, unfortunately. Including the trophies and the checkbook-balancing.

"A bitch was saved by admission to an early college. There is no doubt in my mind that going to school instead of staying for my senior year of high school save my life."

I did the same thing and it also saved my life to get the hell out of there.

Anonymous said...

This is so well written, I'm steering people over to read it. Being a survivor of the same type of emotional abuse I couldn't think of writing anything more perfect. I "get" it ABB.

elle said...

I often say, only half-jokingly, that if I can raise my kid to adulthood without screwing him up, it'll be a blessing. Never one with much patience, I routinely bite my lip and my inner jaw, tug my hair and sigh loudly when he does things I just don't understand. I refuse to heap on him the verbal abuse that I was subjected to (though, thank God, it wasn't from my parents).
Thank you for reminding me why it's worth the bleeding lip and headaches. And thank you for surviving and sharing.

CP said...

You made a princess cry, ABB.

You are the perfect example that I try to allude to when I say that people who blame their wrongdoings on the fucked up childhoods are full of shit.

My mother was a single mother and never let me forget it. "Do you know everything I have done for you?"

Yes, mother. You never allow me to forget. Not ever.

My mother was a bigot, a liar, a drug addict. She was verbally abusive to me because of the piss poor relationship she had, and still has, with her own mother. She would batter my brother and I and then, batter herself. Tear her own hair out of her head, beat her skull into the wall and make herself bleed, much to the horror of my brother and I.

I left at 16 and never looked back.

I had a baby at 19 years old, and opted to never, ever repeat the cycle of violence, competition and vile behavior my mother showed towards me. I nurtured my little girl. I respected her as a human from the moment she was born. I knew when to hold her hand.

I also knew when to let go and let her be...her.

I never wanted her to be the best. Just the best she could be. I was everything that my mother never was to me.

Somewhere along the way, I think my mother learned by example. She wanted to be a part of her grandaughters life. I made the rules crystal fucking clear.

Hurt that girl with your words, your criticisms, your commentary or your high expectations...and you will NEVER see her again. I would not allow her to cripple my daughter the way she made me an emotional cripple for the longest time.

My mother and I do have a relationship now, but it is a cautious one. It is more a friendship rather than the mother and daughter relationship that my child and I enjoy. Although, I will state quite clearly...

If she were NOT my mother, she would not be someone I would choose to be friends with.

I let her in, but I never let her close enough to burn me. I don't reveal secrets to her. I don't share soft tender moments with her. And my Mother's Day cards are more obligatory than warranted. Mainly, I do it to keep the peace.

But, when they come from my daughter, they are filled with love, respect and honor. She calls me her hero. I tell her how she saved my life. Literally.

I feel your pain, ABB, and respect your stance on the Mother/Daughter illusion.

You are the mother of your own existance. You should buy yourself cards, candy and flowers on Mothers Day. You've earned it, my beloved friend.


Anonymous said...

dear ms. bitch,

first, i must say that i enjoy reading your blog (i'm sure you get that alot, but oh well, you got it again.) second, i like reading about what is goin on in STL. i am a college student from kirkwood, MO living in NJ and i found your blog from its good to get a little update about what is going on in MO. i like the most recent entry on mothers day. i feel like motherhood and maternalism are too often essentialized as something naturally innate to all women...and all mothers. and mental/verbal abuse are often misunderstood, if acknowledged at all. i also have a complicated relationship with my mother. and i also receive confused reactions when i try to explain the complexity of our relationship. keep on keepin on. your strength and wisdom are inspiring!

Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ

ben said...

the families we choose...can be closer than blood sometimes.

i hear you loud and clear. my own mother came out of an incredibly fucked up home (dad too, now that i think about it)...and we all started carrying some of that weight, though what i went through was crap, what she went through was hell.

and as the years have gone by, i think we've all gotten better about it...and i look to her as one of the real rocks of my life. i know i'm lucky, damn lucky indeed. but i know enough to know what you're talking about is as real and painful as any bruise or wound.

CrankyProf said...

Beautiful. powerful post, from an ass-kicking, self-determined woman. Hold your head high, Bitch. You've created a family for yourslef that's a zillion times better -- and better for you -- than what you had.

I've been seriously considering cutting ties with my Smother, for a lot of the same reasons. Christmas was the last bit of bittersweet icing on the same old shitcake from her.

I think it's time for a "Miss Celie" moment. Time to enter into Creation, and leave her ass behind.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story.

I can relate somewhat. My Mom was always putting me down when I was a kid, there was some physical abuse mixed in there too. If I ever try to discuss it, I'm the "ungrateful child" because of all the things she's done for me. Which, I do appreciate, but they still don't negate the bad things.

It's funny how people see someone who appears to have their life together and can't imagine that you might have had a hard childhood.

I always have mixed feelings at Mother's Day. Currently my relationship is shaky. She'll get a phone call. That's it.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. Emotional abuse is a tricky thing to get a handle on, especially in regard to those who've never experienced it. My mom and I are still able to have a relationship BECAUSE she has been able to admit her complicity in my fucked-up-ness AND she has apologized and continues to work on her own personal growth and development to the point of not needing to have control over a sensitive people-pleasing child.

It sucks that it's not that way for you. I admire that you have the strength and courage to continue to avoid a relationship that ought to be better than what it is, but the fact that it is not is not your fault.

Sentimentality for the sake of sentimentality needs to die. That is SO 100 years ago!

Anonymous said...

I admire you and your tenacity, you have come out on top and is educated to boot. I am envious because not everyone can bounce back from such a shitty childhood and live happily to tell about it. You are now my new hero!!!!


J said...

Oh Bitch, this is the second post I've read this morning about Mother's who SUCK. It breaks my heart. I'm guessing there will be plenty of posts about strong, wonderful mothers, but just the realization of how many mothers truly fail their children, how they SHOULD NOT HAVE HAD children, breaks my heart. Not that I wish your mom hadn't had you, because you are obviously an amazing person, but it's sad that that had to be in spite of her teachings, and not because of them.

Happy Mother's Day to you, and to the mother figures in your life, who did right by you.

Enigma said...

Conqueror and victor. That is what you are. People really do not get how mental abuse, what happens as a child etc affects your life. Too much responsibility and trying to please everybody, trying to be a super being when you are simply trying to get through and get the love you need. It is all too much, and reading your blog reminds me to take it easy on folks and ask questions. I do not share my pain or past easily with others, and need to be reminded to be patient with others too.
I am very happy you got the other mothers you needed over the course of your life. Continue to love yourself and your life.

Brian said...

You my favorite bitch. Great post. Excellent point and something my girlfriend deals with as well so I totally understand. While this may sound ironic, you actually explain the issue quite eloquently, even if in your own, bitchy way. Keep up the excellent writing.

Anonymous said...

I had a similarly difficult childhood, although it probably looked ideal to most outsiders (middle class family, parents still together, mother home with the children). Makes me wonder how many kids grow up in a similar hell, not sure they'll survive long enough to make it out alive at 18. Far too many, I'll bet.

After a suicide attempt at 16, I had to see the township youth counselor on a regular basis. After a while, he asked to have the rest of my family come in for a session so he could get a sense of what I was dealing with. Within the first five minutes of that family session, my mother was screaming at him hysterically. The next time I saw the counselor, he assured me, "You're mother is mentally ill. You'll be fine eventually. Go to college as far from home as you can." This was in New Jersey. I went to college in California.

That was 20 years ago, and I still haven't healed completely. Doing much better, though. And now I'm a mother myself. I work hard at being a good mom, and while I don't have a role model of what to do, I know what *not* to do. I will never hit my son, I will never put him down or insult him, never accuse him of stuff he didn't do, never dismiss his valid concerns, never tell him racist, sexist, or classist nonsense like "god didn't mean for white people and black people to be together" or "children whose mothers work grow up to be drug addicts."

Keep up the good work.

Homer said...

ABB, Thank you for sharing your story. My father was the same, everyone thought he was the greatest friend. No one saw the way he treated his family.

Tina said...

Bless you. My history is similar -- while I don't really have a relationship with my mother (how could I? She will never have any idea who I am), I still see her a couple times a year. Am still detoxing from the last visit.

Your mother has no clue what she's missed out on, in you. Her loss ... if she were equipped to feel it.

Thanks for this post.

AOB said...

Sounds like we may be related maybe our mothers are twins....thanks for the honesty..thanks for being my voice...

Anonymous said...

Dear ABB,

I've read your blog for a while now and noticed a mention of "Texas" today. You aren't, perchance, a Texan or based in the Lone Star State, are you? If so, I'd like to know. I try to keep track of all the best Texas bloggers for my site, Capitol Annex.

Love your blog. If you are a Texan (ex-pat or current), please email me at Thanks!

Jessica said...

Right on.
A bitch has reminded me of so many years' quiet groaning over "deep down you know she loves you", and of how liberated I felt in the wake of my last two cutting-off occasions. And even though, for some damned reason, I feel guilty for having to do it again *today*, I know it's not fair to do anything else: someday she may decide to get her own life, though she may content herself with some other positioned as if at her disposal. Either way, I'm going to go ahead and live mine.
¡Viva a bitch!

state of our nation said...

i was raised by my grandmother, (my mother was off doing other things..)my gran was the best mom i chic could have. my mom, hmmmm, yeah...we have a working relationship. she doesn't expect to much from me, and i return the favor. but, happy mother's day to them both!! **that's something my gran would want me to say** -mel

Paul said...

well that settles it. you're on my list of "people who know what the fuck they're talking about." here's a deal: you keep writing and I'll keep reading. um, but I cannot bring myself to call you a bitch; i'll leave that to you. peace and blessings and good stuff.

Maven said...

You know I'm with ya on this.

My least fave time of the year is mother's day. The first card I pick up that has the same type of sentiment I could give to anyone... the least personal... the least schmaltzy... that's the one I buy. A dollar store card and gift beats the grief I'd get if I neglected the day entirely.

There comes a point in our lives, where we end up mothering ourselves.

You're lucky to have C-Money and your brother, and your friends around you. Very lucky and loved, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you... beautiful post!

I spent my twenties hating mother's day because it was so painful to see all the idealized images of nurturing mothers on the tv ads. Sometimes one's relationship with one's mother isn't so toxic as it is truely a nuanced mismatch of personalities (often touched with a depleted maternal history). I finally figured out that my mother had the only relationship with me that she was capable of... she was a great "nurse" to me, and for that gift I can be grateful (even though it's not the gift I may have wanted or needed).

I still select my mother's day cards carefully... it would be lie to thank her for an emotional connection I never had the opportunity to experience.

If being a grown up means being your own best parent, then sometimes that means setting some very serious boundaries.

Happy Mother's Day!

DeppFan said...

"But she's your mother, well-meaning friends used to say. They didn't get it because most of them had a mom who was their best friend, their shopping buddy, etc.
I see where you came from, ABB, and you did a great job raising yourself!
College wasn't my escape, since I was told from an early age that I would be a "secretary". Well, I went to a large corporation, and like you, watched and learned how people lived. A good father, siblings, and grandparents, who also incurred her wrath on countless occasions, got me through.
Mother's Day is a tricky one. She's still alive, lives on Maui since 1993, and there's been no contact since 1999. Let go with love, they say in the 12 step programs. That's the best we can do.

Anonymous said...

Bitch, you know I raised you. It was tough love, trading you nickels for dimes and teaching you shit the hard way. But you turned out a-ok by the nurturing only a big sis can provide.


Anonymous said...

i almost cried reading this. but im pregnant so that may have something to do with it. anyway, im glad you had people who were there for you and glad you realized you were worth loving. i went through an emotionally abusive childhood and its taken me a looooooong time to love me. there really should be a LOT more awareness about the damage emotional and verbal abuse does to children and how rampant it is.

Dangerfield said...

What's up ABB just want to send you some love from the Nations Cap. I know you already know but the lack of a relationship with your mama takes nothing away from you. No doubt about you are queen. God bless. Mark bey

Cheetarah1980 said...

Bitch, your words have me riveted. Haven't commented in a while, but I'm still definitely reading. This post brought me out of my sabbatical. It's so compelling and so real, and while I've never gone through what you describe, I totally felt your pain. Maybe it's because I have a Little Sister (BBBS program) who is going through something similar with her own mother. And the pain it brings her makes me want to cry. Thank you for letting me see that kids can recover and be okay, even with the baggage of bad parenting.

Anonymous said...

It's great and heartbreaking to see and know that there are so many out there who are motherless. I felt every word of your post. The last time my mother hit me I was 21, the last time she said something shitty was at my father's funeral nearly 7 years ago. I stopped then. She died 3 years ago with our relationship unresolved. At 42, I'm still trying to figure it all out. But excising her from my life was to save my life.

Casey said...

Thanks for this post--I needed it. I got back in contact with my biological mother five years ago when I got feed up with the emotional abuse of my stepmother, the person who in many ways bullied my mom out of my life and the life of my siblings. Since contacting my mom, my dad and stepmother won't have anything to do with me; in fact, for a little bit, they amped up the abuse in different ways, but they finally stopped. Every time I start to get upset that my own father won't talk to me, I remember how badly I wanted to run away every time I visited because of the barrage of both silent and spoken judgment, and I am so thankful for the surrogate family I've picked up along the way.

Anonymous said...

You rock for doing you despite it all. Best to you and whatever follows with your mama. As a mama I will say we try, and yes, quite often we simply fail.

Perstephone said...

I am loving this post. As everyone else is waving their, "My mom rocks because..." flags, I keep thinking of the obligation of it all. The degrading comments about how I always thought I was better. The way that the first half of my life was decided for me, without any input from me even considered. Yet, here we are, celebrating mothers as a culture, when maybe we should just be celebrating awesome people. Like you!

Anonymous said...

I am so glad to see I am not the only one who has to put up with a manipulative, selfish, cold hearted, narrow minded, bitch for a mom. I have a daughter and use my mother as a parenting example by thinking..."What would Mother do?" and doing EXACTLY the opposite. This has served me so well I get notes home from teachers on what a good parent I am, so I guess she isnt a waste of humanity after all......happy fucking mothers day.

Joolya said...

A bitch did not grow up with unconditional maternal love. There were some serious conditions and they were ever changing just to keep you on your toes and from ever meeting them. That was the game and it was played with tragic regularity.

ABB, I totally heart you.
Change "maternal" for "paternal" and you've said what I have been trying to say for years.
And the thing is, you grow up knowing something ain't right, but you can't even say what it is - you're not allowed - because if there's something wrong, it means there's something wrong with you.
When a mentally ill person blames you for their crazyhood, that's a symptom of the illness.
I still regret that I don't have a relationship with my biological father; but on the other hand, I am not going to get what I need from him. Any other relationship like that, bitches everywhere would be screaming, Dump the muthafucka already!
Big props. You're a rockstar.

Anonymous said...

i appreciate your honesty. lots of people would just try to hunker down and get through mother's day, but you confronted the demon and kicked its ass.

i can relate to what you're saying. in my case, its the father rather than the mother that's the a-hole.

i remember thinking at 5 or 6 years old that the father wasn't a very nice person.

things have changed in the last 30some years, but only because i changed myself. i know he never will.

Anonymous said...

This is my first Mother's Day since I stopped speaking with my mother. But it isn't my first Mother's Day without a mother. My mother is mentally ill and I can't remember the last time she did or said something motherly. That's my world and I hope that, in writing this, I can show someone else that they are not the only one who feels alone on Mother's Day.

Weasel said...

The more together you are the less people believe you.

Really fucked up people just stay fucked up, right?

Not exactly.

Your mama and my sig. other's daddy would have been a match made in heaven... or hell, whichever you prefer.

My heartmate has zero contact with his father, for numerous reasons. (Don't wanna bore ya with the details; suffice to say his daddy is an asshole.) People who throw out that "Forgive and forget" bullshit have never lived through hellish childhoods, wondering when the next crack of the belt or "I should never have had you" will fall next.

My heartmate survived because his daddy threw him out shortly after he turned 18.

My own mother survived her "childhood" when her abusive father threw her out.

I'm glad you had a better way out. Stay strong.

Best wishes,


Anonymous said...

I'm so moved by your post and I have tears in my eyes.

I went through something similar, too, and the abuse just went on and on in so many ways that people with normal mothers absolutely cannot relate to...

The crushing of spirit under her power.

The loss of your soul.

The uncertainty in yourself that existed there when there should've been optimism and hope,

The feeling that I'm worth as much as a piece of dogshit on the sidewalk and it is the right of some man in my mother's eyes to hit her own daughter and he's a "good man" because he knows how to exert his manhood...

Being told day in and out that I'm stupid, ugly, worthless, useless, weak and no one will ever love me.

Fuck her.
Fuck that
and dammit all to hell...

I understand precisely where a bitch is coming from.

Peace out, sister...

Anonymous said...

I understand totally. People tend to believe that just by popping out brats that you're automatically so much better than everyone else and that we owe our mothers so much simply for wiping a nose that they created. Mother's Day is just a major guilt fest heaped upon "children" of all ages. I created a little Mother's Day ad below. Enjoy.


Sheeple: "You can forgive the woman who gave you LYFE can't you? She took pan to bring you into this world!"

The Sane: "This world is full of harshness and death. I could argue that she owes me for dragging me into it. Life is hard."

I wish everyone a guilt free, commonsense Mother's Day.

Anonymous said...

I have a really hard time worrying what people think of me, because I don't speak to my mother. It's further complicated with siblings who don't understand and continue spreading rumors. One thing that really helps me is this saying: What other people think of you, is really none of your business. What we are doing is not only healthy for us, but courageous.

MorganScorpion said...

Thankyou so much for this.

I am so glad not to be alone.

Koo-Ree said...

Similar comment in the same vein. My mother was likewise emotionally/mentally abusive, not nurturing/maternal at all, and I have also raised myself into a strong courageous woman. People don't get what we have gone through, because they take their experiences for granted.

The good thing that I realized THIS year for Mother's Day, is that I have other friends and family members so ARE good Mothers, so I wish THEM a Happy Mother's day, because I respect how loving & giving they are to their children. It's a sacrifice I'm not willing to make in my life, but I respect them for it.

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