Mother’s Day

I am a somber writer. I suppose I try to not be a person who ignores the bad just so I can feel good. I remember Bruce Springteen’s lyrics in Jungleland clearly (even without having watched Blinded by the Light 25 times).

The poets down here don’t write nothing at all, they just stand back and let it all be. And in the quick of the night they reach for their moment and try to make an honest stand. But they wind up wounded, not even dead.

But, man, did that movie make a great use of that song. I should let my kids know that since it’s Mother’s Day we’re going to watch it for the 26th time.


Lately, however, I’ve been feeling a lot better. One of the main reasons for this is that I’ve been spending a good amount of time each day working through the therapy techniques of Internal Family Systems (IFS). I’ve been trying to learn more about it and apply their practices and it has truly helped. I mean, it’s helped SO much. And it is weird to stand on this side of things and watch other people, people who often dismissed my anxiety and my depression, now struggling with anxiety and depression.

And then there are people who I’m pretty sure once thought that others on public assistance were sh*t who are now desperate for help and finding even less than I found. I mean, there wasn’t much, but the food banks weren’t as bare. Also, I’m not entirely sure if the work requirement for food stamps was signed into law or not before this happened. And, of course, the wait to get unemployment.

Gonna be frank. I feel like yelling at them, “get a job.”

It’s weird to watch the majority of this country struggle with their mental health so publicly when I have always been shunned for being so public with my own. At first I was angry about it, now I’m oddly satisfied. Like, “Haha, now it’s happening to you.” It’s almost like a twisted sort of justice.

But today I woke after a terrible dream to the reality of Mother’s Day. I probably should have stayed off social media. All the “yay, mom” posts, and such, can get depressing when your mother is a psychopath.

I thought of all the people still forcing themselves to sit through sermons (online this year-so maybe that will take the edge off) where the pastor extols them to respect and honor their mother or face varying degrees of damnation from god. Their own abuse goes unacknowledged by the church (I know, I was in the church, they do not care about it). And they are forced to suffer because they will be cast out if they dare stand up for themselves. Not everyone is as stupid as me and can say, “You can all go to h*ll,” then walk away. (I’m actually sure I dropped the f-bomb, but maybe I’ll be more polite today.)

Then I thought through the things I need to possibly do today. The things that will bring about stress and cause a great deal of panic in my parts. Mother’s Day was the big one.

But it’s not quite as bad as before. As I said, I’ve been dealing with my sh*t. And that forced me to face the fact that my parents were, as much as I am, a product of their parents. Who were, in turn, a product of their parents, and so on, back forever.

I come from a long line of very abusive people. The abuse has been the core of everything in our family. I’ve learned that poverty is one of the number one causes of abuse. That definitely makes sense in my family. While there have been a few people who’ve made enough to eat and live, for as long as I know, since back before the depression, my family has always been poor. There were a few who were able to ride the post-war wave and do OK. But it hasn’t been long enough to eradicate the abuse. There is a difference between people who are born into a family with money and those who scrape it together. There is a meanness about those of us who grew up with nothing, and that meanness always affects the children.

Oh, sure, you knew a poor family that wasn’t abusive in anyway. And you remember them because they are the exception. The stats are hard to twist in this matter. When more people get poor, like in a time when we have such a high unemployment rate, the child abuse statistics go crazy.

But the truth is, in all those facts and statistics, my parents knew nothing else. And they weren’t the type who wanted to know something else. Most don’t. Most people would rather put up with the abuse of their family than do the ridiculous thing of telling the all to, well, I already told you what I did. It’s stupid. I live on the edge of homelessness often because I have told my family that I will not put up with their abuse.

I have often joked over the years that I must of some weird genetic variation that made me finally say, “Enough is enough.” No one else in my family ever did. I had no real world example. I just could not take it anymore and quit them.

Now things really are different. Maybe other people see it, maybe they don’t. Maybe it will still be a struggle when I am back out with people all the time. But I have this opportunity to really focus on healing a lot of those things that happened to me, of really comprehending why people behave as they do.

My mother could not help it. She simply did to me as her family had done to her. She knew no different. Her mother knew no different. And her mother, well, my grandmother was taken away from her mother at the age of two because my great-grandmother was so mentally unstable my aunt feared my grandmother would die. So my aunt raised my grandmother. She became a foster mother at the age of 16. If there’s one thing I learned from watching my kids raise each other when I was working 50+ hours a week it’s that “there is nothing worse than being raised by your siblings.” (That’s a Maurice Sendak quote, btw.)

One big sticking point for me was my mother’s dismissal of me when I told her about what my father did. She defended him and accused me of lying. I thought it was the height of hypocrisy. Wasn’t that what her family had done to her?

But that is exactly why she did it. She did it to me because it was done to her. It gave her a twisted sense of justice to see someone else go through what she had gone through.

The cycle always repeats itself.