Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hugs

Lately, many of my thoughts have been surrounding my mother.  I have never given much thought to our relationship or who she was as a person.  Perhaps wrongly, I have given her the designations of... she was mean...she hurt me a lot... she let others hurt me too.  Beyond that, I have thought very little about her.

I was the firstborn.  I have always wondered how she felt when she was pregnant with me.  Was she excited?  Did she dread becoming a mother?  Was she nervous?  Did she feel much of anything?

She always told me that she wished I had never been born, she should have aborted me, I was the result of an affair, I trapped her into being married to my father, and when my sister died she told me that she wished it had been me.  Not knowing what to fully believe, these things she spoke have defined me as a daughter. 

I am someone's wife and that is good.  I am someone's mother and that is good.  I am someone's daughter and that is devastating.

I have allowed myself to think beyond the surface of my mother.  I remember going into her bathroom as a child and spraying her perfume on myself.  It was Chanel No. 5.  I can still smell it faintly.  Having her scent on me was like a hug.  It was the closest I got to a hug from her.  When she caught me smelling of her expensive perfume, I paid.

But it was worth it for a hug from her.

I remember watching her get ready for a party; I was sitting on the corner of their bed. My mother was a beautiful woman.  Thick and straight blonde hair, fair skin, a beautiful smile... I look nothing like her.  My sister did.  I am the lucky one who looks exactly like my father.  Her hair was perfect, her makeup was flawless, her dress was red, and she was wearing her perfume.  She called out a goodbye as she walked past me and they were gone.  No hug, no kiss. 

So I sprayed my own hug.

It's funny; the smell of his various colognes will still make my stomach lurch or worse.  But the smell of her perfume still gives me a warm feeling.  At best, perhaps his evil was different than her evil.  In reality, it is probably because he gave me too many hugs while she gave me none.

More frequently than not, I have hated my mother more than my father.  I also find myself loving him more than I have ever loved her.  I feel badly about this.  My mother was broken far before I came along.  The remaining shreds of her sanity and dignity my father ripped away.  Pity isn't the right word for what I feel.  I try but I cannot put my finger on what I feel toward her.

I just don't know.

17 comments:

Andrea said...

"I am someone's daughter and that is devastating"...boy do I get this....my parents at ages 15 and 19 were married and gave birth to me. They had to get married and they always resented me for it. It is a tough burden to carry. Thankfully, our Heavenly Father has taught me much about love over the years and I have come to realize, HE is all I need to feel happy and secure. My self worth comes from HIM and not my earthly parents.
Blessings and prayers, andrea

PS: You have an award on arise 2 write

Deborah said...

You are eloquent and very self-wise as always, Jennifer. I find it extraordinary that, as a child, you found a way to give yourself something your mother could not.

Today was the memorial service for my mother and as I listened to my brother speak of her, my thoughts went to you, who never knew what we did. I'm so sorry. If I could, I would give you a real hug.

Jennifer said...

I think a lot of what people like your mother pass on is self-hatred. Not that this helps, or fully explains, and it's not a subtle explanation. It doesn't necessarily ease the pain. But it sometimes can remove the sting of things a tiny bit. Because what she did and said to you feels so personal, it *was* so personal, but ultimately had nothing to do with who you were, an innocent and intrinsically good child.

I also love what Deborah says about the fact that you found a way to give yourself something your mother could not. It *is* extraordinary.

Ruth said...

It is utterly extraordinary to me what your child-heart managed to harvest from your mother, and her coldness and cruelty.

I'll never put on Chanel No. 5 again without thinking of giving you a hug.

English Rider said...

My Mother also wore Chanel No.5 I have recently taken to wearing it myself.

sarah said...

I've felt that way too about my mother - she constantly bullied me and never hugged myself or my sister - I thought she really hated me but you said it well, she was damaged way before we ever came along. I want to tell you - you aren't what you're mother implied, and I'm glad you were born....Sarah

svasti said...

Ah... complex relationships with our parents are everywhere. They take so many forms. It is astonishing when I consider my own feelings (or lack thereof) about my mother. And how I hold her much more responsible for my childhood horrors than my father. I don't have warm feelings about either of my parents.

I agree, that our parents most often pass on self-hatred and the neediness that they couldn't get fulfilled themselves. I think that part is common. What's less common is what our parents do with that. Not everyone turns a blind eye to their child being abused. Not everyone tells their child they wish they'd died.

But I believe the motives, the things that made your mother say those things are the same as many other people's.

Shattered said...

Andrea, I am so glad you have found another source for your self-worth. :) I am working on that too...

Shattered said...

Deborah, again I am so sorry about your mom. I am glad that you and your brother have good memories of her to share.

Shattered said...

Jennifer, self-hatred sure does run deep doesn't it? Being a mother myself now, with a great deal of self-hatred baggage of my own, I can see a glimpse of where my mother was coming from. It's a choice I have to make every day, sometimes more than once, to parent out of love instead of self-hate. The last thing in the world I want to do is pass this hate along to my daughter.

Shattered said...

Ruth, I was definitely a creative kid... :) Harvesting anything good from my mother is hard but I am continuing to work on it, not for her memory, but rather for my own sense of memory.

Shattered said...

ER, it really is a nice perfume. :) I don't think I could ever wear it myself but I still enjoy smelling it on other people.

Shattered said...

Sarah, thank you for visiting my blog and for your encouragement. I am so sorry that you and your sister had a similar experience.

Shattered said...

Svasti, I agree that many of my mother's motives were not unique. You are right, it ultimately comes down to what we do with the feelings. I still wonder what the outcome would be if my mother had ever received good help.

Friko said...

Once again I am moved by your writing. It is so good that you have found acceptance through it with people who mean you well and are willing to listen and help you on your way. But you know, it has to be you who does all the work.
One of these days you may be able to say "she knew no better" or "she did what she could, it just wasn't very good".

One other phrase of yours struck me:

I am somebody's wife, I am somebody's mother, I am somebody's daughter.....

yes, you are all those people but far more than that YOU ARE SOMEBODY, you are you, unique, a person in your own right. If ever you will truly accept that then your day will have come.

It will, you are on your way!

Shattered said...

Friko, you are right... it does have to be me to do the work. Sometimes that is promising; other times it is downright frightening. I do hope that someday I am able to say that my mother did what she could. I'm not there yet but maybe someday...

I especially needed to hear your last words today. Today is not a day where I feel like much of someone or anyone for that matter. Thank you for the encouragement.

Patricia Singleton said...

Shattered, thank you for sharing this article. I always told myself that I knew that my mother loved me. I really didn't know that. I was lying to myself but it was a necessary lie to help me survive the incest. My dad was the perpretator. I needed one of my parents to be the safe parent. I elected my mother to be that safe parent in my world. She really wasn't safe either but I needed the lie that said she was.