I’m sure I’m not the only one who will say a parent was their most influential teacher, though I hope their reasons are different from mine.
While I’ve written about my mother’s cruelty toward me and its impacts, I haven’t been the only one she’s victimized.
My brothers have experienced her wrath, but, unlike me, they’ve chosen to not stand up to her. When we were kids, my mom frequently dumped Brother A and me at a theater with the instructions to stay to watch the movie twice (but not pay twice). Maybe she’d be there afterward to pick us up. Maybe not. Several times Brother A and I waited alone late at night outside a closed theater for her to come get us. How long? I don’t know. Neither of us was old enough to have a developed concept of time, but certainly long enough for us to be the only people still there.
My mom used my brothers to manipulate her parents for money, and to publicly smear people, like my dad and his family.
When I was in sixth grade, mom moved us in with a falling-down drunk. While she worked nights, the drunk would take us with him to watering holes like the El Pound Club. I remember at least once having to drive him and my siblings home because he was so drunk he couldn’t see. Imagine what it was like for my brothers to have to depend on me, whom they were taught was not worth their mother’s love and attention, because the adults in their lives could not be depended on.
That drunk had a steady supply of enablers, including another woman who’d been in the picture longer than my mom. Instead of accepting the insanity of it all, my mother blamed the other woman for her relationship problems with the drunk and for his drinking. My mom went after that woman with a vengeance and even once broke in the woman’s home.
The next man she scoped out was fool enough to marry her. I remember early in their relationship he told me how sorry he felt for my mother after all she’d been through. But he learned. He was so ready to be done with her ass, he packed his shit and booked one day while she was at church.
I have never understood how it has always been so easy for my mother to get folks to not only believe her bullshit, but to also actively participate in it. They are referred to as Flying Monkeys because they enable the Wicked Witch to be the Wicked Witch. My mom has plenty of them. Brother B’s first wife was a particular favorite. That woman was a train wreck, but Wifey B ingratiated herself with mama to discourage B from leaving her. My mother saddled B with her parents’ home because she knew the emotional value he’d put on the place and wouldn’t risk losing it in a divorce. He finally sold the place recently and I was rather proud of him for doing so.
Mama and Wifey B often attacked Brother A’s first wife; those two made Ms. A’s life hell, and not only did Brother A do nothing to stop it, he often encouraged it. One of the nastiest things my mother and Wifey B did to Ms. A took place the day after Ms. A’s daughter died. My mother and Wifey B stood in A’s kitchen and talked shit about Ms. A because the microwave oven was dirty, and did so in a voice loud enough for everyone – including a grieving Ms. A – to hear. Those two also blamed Ms. A for her daughter’s death and shamed her for taking so long to grieve the loss. What kind of fucking lowlife scum does shit like that? My mom and her flying monkeys. That’s who.
Just before I went no-contact with my mother, she “accidentally” didn’t charge me for the steaks I’d picked up at the grocery where she worked. I didn’t realize it until I got home and took the steaks back to the store to pay for them. She always bragged about how customers preferred going through her checkout; I wonder how many of them experienced similar “accidents”? She also tried to charge some people more than the actual cost for some items, and loved to drop the N-word to describe those customers.
This week a package arrived at my home addressed to her. You may think it a mistake, but I know it was no accident. My birthday is close at hand and Mommy Dearest wanted to once again be the center of attention. She thought I might try to get it to her. Nah. I took it to the UPS Store and they’re returning it to the sender. She was also hoping for another post like this that she could use as proof that I’m a heartless bitch and she’s an innocent victim. I think Betsy, Sam, Westa, and some of your former employers would disagree.
How can such a shitty person be an influential teacher? My mother shaped my worldview. Thanks to her, I know:
- to never underestimate the depths some people will go to in order to be cruel,
- that it’s easy to get others to be complicit in your cruelty because people tend to believe victims deserve what happens to them,
- if you want people to believe your lies, incorporate said lies in a narrative they want to hear,
- to pay attention to what people say, because eventually they will tell you who they are, and
- that if there is a god, it’s a mighty impotent entity that allows people like my mother to ruin everything they come into contact with sans consequence.
Mommy Dearest, I’m not your punching bag anymore. I look forward to the day I read your obituary; other than that I could care less about you. If you keep coming at me, expect more posts like this that tell the world who and what you truly are.
19 thoughts on “… But Not in a Good Way”
You have more compassion in your pinky finger than your mom. She won’t tell you but I will; I’m proud of you
Thank you. And no, she won’t tell anyone, because she’s incapable of telling anyone anything that doesn’t make her look good.
I am sorry you had to endure this but glad you’ve survived. Even if it is with a few scars. Hugs.
I’m one of the lucky ones. There are people out there that believe they were in the wrong and that what my mother did to them was justified.
Flying monkeys. That’s good. Wish I’da thought of that. I just called people stupid for believing something so obviously stupid. ^_^
I didn’t come up with that. But it is appropriate, doncha think? And yeah, I’m with you on the obviously stupid moniker.
I’m glad you survived and had the sterngth and courage to break free.
It’s awful to consider how mamy people that one bitter and cruel person can hurt. It’s always puzzled me how mamy people will enable in one way or another . They join in with what they must know is wrong.
But we see much the same thing in our politics, on a larger scale.
I know, right? Now if I had that bitch-slap capability, I doubt many politicians would not get one from me.
Wow! Your mom sounds like a keeper… She sounds strikingly similar to how my mom abused and neglected me. I used to say that if I had been raised by a pack of wolves, I would have had more of an advantage in life. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that, Jen.
Needless to say, my mom didn’t teach me anything. The following is an excerpt from my memoir (I’m still writing it) talking about my favorite teacher when I was in the 5th grade.
We moved and everything changed. It was in the middle of the fifth grade. I don’t know quite what happened. It may have been a combination of my grandmother dying and the continued abuse at home, which my ten-year-old mind just couldn’t take anymore. This was when the incessant bullying started, and I began to withdraw into myself.
During this time, my fifth grade teacher, Mr Pigeon, was so kind to me. I had never had anybody show me kindness before. He saw how the others in the classroom treated me. He really seemed concerned for my welfare, which I found rather unusual. It really struck me that he was Native American. At that time we still used the term Indian. I had never seen anyone of another race or ethnic group before. It also struck me as very strange that, here is someone, of a completely different cultural background, who showed more concern and empathy for me than members of my own race, specifically my own family. The whole concept was rather amazing and I spent a great deal of my time in the classroom watching him, trying to imagine what it was like not being white and how he could possibly find it in his heart to be kind to someone not like him, but more specifically, someone like me.
One day, while minding my own business, sitting at my desk, doing my assignment, a boy sneaked up behind me with one of those very thick history or science books. Whump!! The book came down with such a strong and forceful blow, my head felt like a car tire had a blow out from the excessive amount of air pressure that had built up inside of it. Except for the initial sharp stab of pain on the top of my head, that lasted only a second, I didn’t really feel anything. The most jarring pain was felt in my neck. I could literally feel it crumpling like an accordion, buckling under the pressure. All the nerves felt like needles stabbing into it, and then, the sensation of all those needles being set on fire.
Everyone in the room broke out in squeals of laughter, with exaggerated and twisted facial and body movements; giving them the appearance of drunken marionettes, jerking and flopping around uncontrollably. Just to give you an idea of how numbing this abuse and trauma from both home and school had rendered me, when that book made contact with my head, I just sat there, expressionless. I felt so dead inside. I didn’t want to give them the benefit of knowing how much they had hurt me. I knew if I did, it would have given them a sadistic pleasure, and shown me, in a very blatant way, yet again, that nobody was on my side, nobody cared and that was something I couldn’t handle. So, I just sat there like a stone, not responding. In a way, though, not responding was another way of my saying,
“I don’t count.”
“My feelings are not something to be considered.”
“I don’t want you to see me as a thinking, feeling organism.”
“I will deny myself the right to feel.”
It was very much a Catch 22 situation. Because I didn’t show emotions, I think, in a way, it ingrained in others that I didn’t have any feelings, yet if I did show them, I was only laughed at for having them.
I can only imagine that Mr Pigeon wasn’t in the room at the time. I’m sure the students wouldn’t have done such a thing in his presence. Another part of me knew that if I said anything about it –complained in anyway — I would have been laughed at all the more, and I couldn’t open myself up to more ridicule and scorn. So many of my memories seem to dissipate into nothingness without having any kind of resolve to them.
The kindness Mr. Pigeon showed toward me was very alien, and I didn’t know how to process it. Never having been treated in such a way, I didn’t have that grateful attitude that you would imagine somebody having, after being treated so crudely all their lives. My mind just couldn’t grasp this foreign concept. In fact, it made me feel downright uncomfortable. That’s how unaccustomed I was to acts of kindness. It’s not that I didn’t trust him. It was just strange.
Fast forward to when I had left college. I didn’t find out till after I had left college, that Mr. Pigeon had been writing me letters of encouragement, and my mom, instead of forwarding them, kept them from me. She never once told me about them until after I had left college. The one time in my life when I could have gotten some kind of encouragement from someone, she withheld from me the experience of knowing I had an ally. As usual, I could see the perverse pleasure in her eyes, while throwing these verbal grenades at me, as she mentioned the letters that she had selfishly kept from me. I did my best to remain expressionless. if I did, it would only add to her twisted amusement. So I kept quiet, like I did with everything else that bothered me.
Lately, I’ve been moved to find out what tribe Mr. Pigeon was from and look up his family and tell them how special he was and how much he showed me he cared. I hope I’ll be able to do that soon.
Oh yeah. We are a lot alike. My teacher was Ms Derrick. She was African-American and she encouraged me to get involved in activities that showcase my smarts. Ms. Derrick didn’t ask me to sign up for the school spelling bee; she told me I was going. And I won! I got to participate in the regional bee. The following year my mom made sure I didn’t get to go to school on spelling bee day.
She sounded like a terrific teacher and encourager in your life. That must have been the worst disappointment for someone your age. I know that would have killed me.
Jen, do you write outside of this blog?
I have an outline for a short short or short book I just developed. I’m an odd kind of writer because I have to ponder things before putting them to paper.
It takes courage to talk about wounds that run so deep. Proud of you.
Actually, those lessons make you the perfect candidate for a politician. You can get GOOD policy in place because you already understand how it’s done. And Flying Monkeys is brilliant!
I don’t recall where I first heard them called Flying Monkeys, but it stuck because it fits.
It really and truly does!