You can’t choose your family. You are born into the family that you’re born into. They can’t choose you either, though. Your mother decided to carry you inside her for a few months and give birth to you, but she didn’t know who you were when she made that choice. You could be like her or your grandfather or none of the above. It’s all a crap shoot.
My mother once told me that even though they planned to have me, I was a mistake. I was about fifteen years old when she said it. If I make it to 100 years old, on my death-bed, those are words I will never forget.
“We planned to have you, but you turned out to be a mistake.”
That was probably the most hurtful thing she ever said to me. She felt badly about it immediately, and tried to apologize in her indirect way, but it was too late. The horse was out of the gate. “I didn’t mean that.” Yes, you did and I can kind of understand why.
From before I was even born, I put my mom through hell. I was a month overdue. She was in labor for 36 hours before they decided to cut me out. I ruined her chances of having any more children. And then I got meningitis and nearly died. They didn’t know what side effects I would have for years to come.
I was sexually abused by a stranger who lived in our house for a year. She chose not to believe me. She chose not to get me any help or even to kick the pedophile out of the house. I do wonder how much of that decision was a result of having to distance herself from me during the meningitis. She was told to prepare for the worst. When I did come back from the brink of death, our relationship could never be what it was supposed to be, like the relationship she had with my sister. She was always waiting for the other shoe to drop with me. It dropped repeatedly, but not in the way she expected.
In my teen years, I rebelled. I started skipping school. I did drugs. I was drunk all the time. I lost all interest in school. I was an anorexic cutter.
I was remembering what had happened to me when I was seven years old. I was coming to terms with the fact that my family had abandoned me to a pedophile. I remembered the conversation where I told them what was going on in my room late at night and they dismissed it. I was very angry. A hatred inside me started growing. A total disinclination to continue living took root. Instead of getting me help, that’s when she told me I was a mistake.
In my late teens, I became a homeless prostitute drug addict. I moved out of the house. My family did nothing to find me, but they answered when I finally called them for help. That help consisted of free room and board. I sat in my childhood room going through withdrawal and not eating anything. Once again, they ignored what was going on in my room. They didn’t get me any help. I had to save myself and I was very pissed off.
By the time I was nineteen years old, I had to save myself from pedophilia, drug addiction, anorexia, self-harm through cutting and major depression. I didn’t do a very good job. My family did nothing. They didn’t acknowledge that there was even a problem.
What kind of family does nothing? What kind of mother could see their child suffering and let it continue? What kind of monster lets their child be sexually tortured under their own roof and ignores it? What kind of person could see their teenager on a self-destructive downward spiral and do nothing to stop it? My mother, that’s who.
I don’t understand her and I never will. Her inaction is part of the reason I don’t want to have kids of my own. I would rather not have children than risk behaving like my mother, or worse, turning into an abuser myself. It’s a possibility. Children who are sexually abused, especially those who never got any counseling as children, are far more likely to become monsters themselves.
I took away her ability to have children and she took away mine. She created a dead-end generation. When she used to ask me when I was going to get married and have kids, as mothers are wont to do, it made my blood boil. She doesn’t ask me that anymore. Not since we had the conversation where I laid out my anger for her to inspect after not talking to her for three years.
I am still so angry. It takes every ounce of energy I have sometimes not to feel sorry for myself, not hate everything, not to turn that hate and anger inward. I am tired of carrying the anger. I am tired of the hate.
For most of my life, I wallowed in my mire, never wondering about hers. It never occurred to me to question her motives. Why would she abandon her child? Why would she distance herself? It didn’t matter to me. All that mattered is that she did.
The older I get, the more I wonder why. Why would you have a child, then choose not to protect her with everything you have? Why would you call that child a mistake when what she really needed was your help? She was crying out for help, even though she didn’t even realize it herself. She needed help and you just left her alone in her room with her thoughts and razor blades. You didn’t force her to eat. You didn’t force her into counseling. You didn’t help her. You abandoned her twice in less than twenty years.
Even without your help, she survived, but she’s still struggling. She still needs help. She still longs for a mother’s love that she never really had. Sometimes, she hears those words of yours resonate and she still feels like a mistake. And you still turn a blind eye.