The other day my mom was telling (complaining) about things my son does while she babysits him. She said something to effect of that she was glad she didn’t have a boy, because they are more work than girls. I replied, “I am glad I didn’t have a girl. They have too much drama.” I was thinking of two young girls I know, who I love to death, but they are full of drama. My mother replied, “Oh, like when you took the knife out of the drawer in the kitchen while I was doing dishes and threatened to kill yourself?”
Um, no mother. Not like that at all.
FYI–that was a cry for help that you ignored for 20 years and still apparently don’t even understand in hindsight. She never mentioned the event at the time or anytime in the 20 years since, but this is like the second or third time she has brought it up in the past year. I guess it is her best example of me being a bad kid? Her only memory of me as a teenager?
As a teenager, I hid almost all my real feelings about everything from her, because I didn’t want to hear her negativity. I didn’t even know that was the proper word for it at that time. It was only the early 1990s. The book The Secret would not be published for like another 10 years. If I went so far as to put a knife to my skin in front of her, trust me, it was not for drama. I was dead serious.
I knew I was depressed my senior year in high school. I wrote school reports about suicide. I read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. All my friends had boyfriends, but I didn’t. No boys even looked at me. I couldn’t remember how to smile or laugh. I coped by writing bad, depressing poetry. I tried cutting, because my friend did it. But it wasn’t for me. I got no satisfaction from it. I found the song “Everybody Hurts” by REM too painful to listen to–it was too painful to think that others were hurting as much as I was. That there could be that much hurt in the world.
Back to the phone call with my mom. I tried to be brave and actually give her a glimmer of honesty.
ME: “I wasn’t being dramatic. Did you ever think that I might need some kind of help?”
MOM: “No, you were just being dramatic.”
ME: “No, I wanted to kill myself.”
MOM: “Oh, everyone wants to kill themselves.”
How does one reply to that????
I told her I had to go and hung up on her. She then texted me like eight more times that day as if nothing had happened.
I’m sorry, but you just blew off my feelings from a major, horrible time in my life.
And she will say things like “Be glad you didn’t have my mother. I was a good mother.” How can one argue with that?
And today I have to go and see her and make copies for her. I have to continue to pretend to be the perfect daughter. I have to pretend not to notice that she doesn’t accept anything about me or my life, even though by most accounts I have it together pretty well. I have to pretend that I am not a writer, that I don’t have tattoos, that I don’t have a blog, that I don’t go to church.
It is EXHAUSTING! And within minutes of being in her presence, I usually blow up at her about something stupid. She is clueless as to why. Usually, I am too. But, most likely, it is from the pressure of trying to hide my true self from the ONE person in the world who should accept me no matter what. She thinks she accepted me because she let me dress as Punky Brewster when I was eight. No. At the time she would make comments like she should be ashamed to leave the house with me looking like that. She still says things like that about that time today. That is not accepting. God, good thing I didn’t turn out gay.
It is no wonder I always felt all alone growing up. That I identified with orphans on TV sitcoms. That I still write stories about girls who feel like they have no one in the world, no matter how big the family I write for them is.
This exchange with my mom made me angry. Angry for me now. And sad, for teenage me.
The following started as a writing I did in college, a true reflection of my feelings at the time. I converted it into a piece of the novel I am working on. Please don’t steal it:
If Jane’s suffering showed more outwardly, maybe someone would have reached out to offer her help. But her suffering was mostly silent and invisible to anyone who didn’t already know what her regular personality should be. She wasn’t walking past people in the halls missing an arm, leaving a river of blood behind her. To anyone she passed, it would just look like she was having a bad day. As such, if no one person took interest in her, then no one would realize that one day strung together into two days, which then became a week, a month. Depression was invisible. It made Jane invisible as well.
For another depression writing, click here and read THE DRIVING RAIN at the end of the post: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2013/02/26/college-sucked/