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Sunday, February 15, 2015


Yesterday I was working on a blog entry about what an absolute piece of shit my adoptive mother was. I was thinking about all of the times she flat out showed me how little she considered me in her life. I was proud of the mother I had been and sure that, even though we struggled and had ups and downs, Audrey always knew I loved her. I sent Audrey a message on Facebook and said, “I hope you know how much I’ve always loved you.” She said she did not.

I immediately fell into a place that was dark. I wanted to find a way to become even more separated from the world than I already am. I decided that all of the progress I’ve made in this journey of self-discovery through writing was irrelevant because I was obviously not the person I thought I was. How could I have been such a dedicated mother and my child say she didn’t know that I loved her?

I look back at all of the things I did as a mother that were wrong. I loved her wrong, I already realized that, but I loved her nonetheless. (see blog "Bubba and Otis") I made her the center of my life. I made her my reason for getting up in the morning and being successful at work and making more money. That is a lot to put on a child, even if we were both unaware of the fact that I was doing it. I have so many memories of loving her. I had joyous moments of revelation that I was in absolute, no-doubt-about-it love with another human being. This was the connection I thought I would never feel. And my heart just collapsed last night to hear that she didn’t feel it.

Did I teach her to detach? I only just recently realized that it's a serious problem of mine. (see blog "No, Thanks") I pushed everyone else away without a moments notice while she was growing up. She saw family members and people who should’ve been my lifelong best friends become immediately and permanently irrelevant in our lives. At 12, she was able to push her father away. He was awful to her and she witnessed the violence in his home that had been the reason for our leaving him when she was born. As glad as I was that she was doing it, I did wonder if the fact that I had pushed my own adoptive mother away earlier that year taught her about the impermanence of absolutely anyone.

As she watched me push people away, maybe I told her subconscious to always expect her time to come. Maybe I taught her how to construct a wall and be very careful about who you let inside. And maybe she put me on the other side. Oh God. That is so painful. I missed a very important lesson. Somehow I thought she understood that she was my true love. She was it. She was the one I would never stop loving. We fight all of the time. Still. Even in her 20s. But my heart has never even considered not keeping her in my wall. She hurts my feelings for sport when she is mad. She fights dirty and says the most hurtful things she can think up. She has been violent with me and told me she hoped I’d die. And I never protect myself from that. I always want her in my life.

I have kicked her out of the house. Maybe she thought that’s what I was doing. Maybe I needed to make it clear that I couldn’t live with her disrespect in my home but I would never want to live without her in my heart. I have taken breaks from talking to her. When she is mean and nasty it is my coping mechanism. I can’t listen to any more of it because her sole intention in those moments is to hurt me. Even I can’t live with that.

I keep getting stuck on every memory I have from her childhood. I honestly thought it was happy until she became a rebellious teenager and I took it wrong. I admit I didn’t handle it properly. I thought it was about me and so I took it personally. But I also realized around that time that I had unintentionally given Audrey a life lesson during her formative years that I had no value. I had used the fact that I was her mother to attribute value to myself. I never thought of myself as a singular human being who was important or worthy of anything. I literally taught her that I didn’t deserve respect.

She never respected me when she was a teenager. I couldn’t find a way to reign it in. I would’ve never been able to do that. I couldn’t go back in time and raise her as a woman with value that demanded and deserved respect. She never cared about the ridiculous sacrifices I made to give her everything that I could. I have to imagine that, to this day, she is the only child to have attended Columbus School for Girls while living in a trailer park. Everything she wanted was an expectation not a request. When she was accepted to Case Western Reserve with a $37k annual scholarship (before we even applied for all of the others she would qualify for because I was good enough to be so incredibly poor) and she decided to go to OSU who offered her no scholarship I told her I wouldn’t pay for it. She was so angry with me. She screamed, “You said when it was time for me to go to college you would work 2 full time jobs or do whatever it took to make sure I could go to college.” My reminder of the $20k+ I had just paid for her high school experience which merited her a $37k scholarship meant nothing. I was irrelevant. I had no value. She literally thought I should be working 2 full time jobs to send her to a college that didn’t offer her scholarships.

Last night my heart was broken. I wanted to sell my house and go join the Peace Corps. I wouldn’t have to make lasting relationships or lament those I had lost. I could just disappear and be useful to others as I could not be to myself. I tend to be slightly irrational when my heart gets bruised. But in the morning with a fresh perspective I can reflect on my own imperfections. I can identify them. I can acknowledge that I am supposed to have been an imperfect parent. That is the only way parents come. Imperfect. I am an imperfect 42 year old. Audrey is an imperfect 22 year old. I am willing to hold myself accountable for my short comings. To date, she is not. Whenever we argue the only things we can discuss are my failures. When I ask her to see her own she says they are my fault. But she is grown. She is an adult capable of reflection. All of her life I had something I told her that would always merit an eye roll: “If you make your problems someone else’s fault, you remove your own capacity to own it and correct it. Because you are waiting for someone else to fix it.” It is time for Audrey to acknowledge every single thing I did right and everything I screwed up as a parent and look at where she is at this moment. She can lament my failures but they have brought her to this moment. This moment is hers. Solely. She has to decide on her actions. She has to decide about her future. She has to forgive or not. I can’t force that on her. It has to be sincere. I guess I will have to wait and see.