Friday, January 27, 2012

Madness

I find it easier to talk about my father than my mother.  His was such an overt evil that even when I lose myself to denial, I find my way back quickly with the jolt of a single memory.  Because they are all bad.

So much is made of the father/daughter and the mother/son relationship and how that connection shapes a person.  But what about the mother/daughter relationship?

My mother.  I believe that I was the beginning of the end for her.  During the holiday with my father's family I learned that I spent time in a mental hospital via my mother.  She was pregnant and they found her trying to abort me.  I'll spare the details but off to the loony bin she and I went.

How does something like that shape a daughter?  I have always known that she did not want me.  Even that she wished that I had never been born.  Once I was in this world; I forever connected her to him and she was trapped. 

That makes me sad for her.

His eyes were always black with rage, lust or something in between.  Her eyes danced with madness.

I have always bristled at the assertion that she was crazy.  It feels like an excuse for her.  But what it really is; it's terrifying.

I remember being in kindergarten waiting for her to pick me up.  I was almost always last because she was always late.  Fridays were the best though because I got my Weekly Reader hand out.  I would sit at the end of the hall and tear tiny pieces away and eat them.  A good day was when I only had the time to eat half of the back page.

It started as a good day when she picked me up.  The teacher called my name and I crammed my paper into my bag.  I always rushed down the hall but each time the doors opened I would slow as I approached her car.  I suppose I was trying to gauge her mood but really I just irritated her by being slow.

This day she leaned across the front seat to fling the passenger door open.  As the door creaked to let me in I saw her.  A gauzy pink robe.  Her naked belly bulging with my sister due in early June.  Curly hairs that I had to tear my eyes away from.

hurry up.  get in the car.  it's hotter than hell sitting around waiting on you.

None of this was spoken in her mean voice.  This was that scary sing song voice and when she picked me up like this it was the worst.  Mean; I knew what to expect.  Crazy; I couldn't anticipate a thing.

I scooted across the hot vinyl seat as I heard her say something about ice cream.  I wanted to tell her that I wasn't hungry but I did not want to be the one to pull her down in a crashing heap.

She wasn't dressed.  Not even close.  But as I stole a look I saw perfect make up and perfect hair.  These were the hardest days to figure out.  Depressed body.  Happy hair and face.

Steel blue eyeshadow surrounded her pale blue eyes.  Her pupil was the calm eye of the dancing hurricane whirling in her mind.  Music blaring.  Hot wind blowing my pigtails in my face.  She's singing as she lights a cigarette.  Between her legs is a pretty bottle hiding in brown paper.  Her robe is moving with the air and I can see the cuts and scars on her thighs.  Madness.

Baskin Robbins... 31 flavors... what kind of ice cream do you want?

we can't go in.  you don't have clothes.

Don't be silly... I can tie my robe... what do you want?

a clown cone.

I can remember thinking... clowns are scary but not as scary as you are.  Madness.

I sink down in the seat while she goes in.  Looking for something to do, I open the glove box and see her silver bottle.  I pull it out and screw the top off as I hear the sound of liquid.  I tip it back and my head follows.  It burns but I keep on drinking.

I finish it and put it back as quickly as I found it.  This isn't my first try.  I don't know what it is but I know that it makes me feel weird but better.  Calmer.  And warm.

I hear her yelling as she storms out of the shop.  The tie of her robe is trailing behind her.  There she is but not ashamed.  In one hand is my clown cone.  In the other is a cup of chocolate ice cream; her favorite.

I hate chocolate ice cream.

She gets in the car and practically throws my cone at me.  The white wrapper falls to the floor but I save the clown.  She is incensed.  As I lean down to pick up the paper I peek again at her naked belly and I see the baby moving.

Tried to do something nice for you... this is the thanks I get...

I whisper a thank you and she slaps me across my face.  I feel bad about eating the clown.  I'm scared to hurt his face.  It starts to melt and make a mess.  She grabs it and throws it out the window as the car weaves between the cars and lines around us. 

Pick your feet up... we are on a magic carpet... feel the hot desert wind... close your eyes to keep the sand out...

There is no sand but I feel really funny so I close my eyes.  I lay down on the vinyl seat; as close to her without touching her.  Hot ashes sprinkle on my cheek.  They sting but I am too tired to care.   But then hot fire touches and my scalp begins to burn.  I smell the burning flesh and hair and know that another circle will be hidden by my thick brown hair.

A single tear slips out as the madness of the speeding car rocks me to sleep.

I wake up in the dark with the stickiness of the ice cream still on my hands.  I'm still in the car.  My mom is gone.  I don't know where we are.  The windows are cracked but I can't get the door open.

I'm not worried about where she is.  I'm just scared of what will happen next.  I count my fingers to twenty over and over.  It's really dark now.

I open up the glove box but remember that I already drank the silver bottle.  I shut it.  I'm hungry.

I open my bag and find my Weekly Reader.  Half of the back page gone; that was a good day.  I start to tear pieces off and one by one I feel the tiny papers melt on my tongue.  I tear until there's nothing left to tear. 

It's a really bad day when I have the time to eat all my Weekly Reader.  Madness.

3 comments:

JeannetteLS said...

Mommy. Not Mommy. Other Mommy. Madness and meanness and who knows what? So familiar. You write so powerfully, but I know it doesn't feel powerful to write these things. You have survived so much--such a soaring soul you have, but don't see that it is.

We all see, though. As you would realize, this one hit very close to the bone for me; sister, your writing is a gift to the rest of us. May it be even more of a gift to yourself as you move through the sludge that is recovery.

I find it so weird that sometimes the writing of it all seems to shine for other people, when inside we don't feel as if we shine at all.

You do. I hope this weekend gives you some laughter and moments that are unencumbered and simple. Thank you so much for your words. I have so often felt terrrifyingly alone as I have faced my mother's madness. I am lucky it was only occasional--but it was there. Today, your entry helped me. So again, thank you.

Shattered said...

Jeannette, I glad that this helped you not feel alone... I'm also sorry that it all made such familiar sense. No child should have to guess what kind of mother they will be waking up to each day.

Shauna Nosler said...

Jesus! Some one very close to me had an upbringging similar to yours - the stories are awful and I cannot imagine or pretend to know what it must be like. All I can say is try and remember that there really are a LOT of good people in the world - keep going to therapy. And, BTW, love your header - what we fear will not go away ... I need to make peace with a few things myself :)

Stopping in to follow from today's hop - hope you have time to visit soon and can return the favor :) www.shaunanosler.blogspot.com