I have a scar on my left hand pinkie, it is the shape of a half circle; and after forty years it still visibly attests to my mothers outbursts of violence.
My nose is broken too, I think it would have been a pretty nose, almost pixie like, now it is just another visible mark of her cruelty.
The beauty spot I have on my inner thigh is in exactly the same place as the one she had.
I am my mothers daughter.
She is no figment of my imagination, for when you run your fingers through my hair the middle of my scalp have ridges and don't seem to join together properly.
She cracked my skull over the bath, another reminder of a mother who seemed to hate me.
The tears and scars that mark my heart are not visible, but they bleed still - I can almost feel the dripping of the blood with each beat of my heart.
Her gilded hairbrush would sit on her dressing table like trophies of war. These instruments of beauty have outlived the hands that so frequently wielded them as weapons.
Her wooden coat hangers hung in her cupboard like soldiers on parade, cold, hard and unbending.
They seldom broke, but when they did, they splintered, the shards embedding themselves into my flesh.
I wasn't sure which use of weapon I preferred, the coat hanger or the gilded brush were equally brutal and both left more than just marks on my tender young skin.
They left welts on my very soul.
I know you even wonder if she had a heart beneath her facade.
Her eyes - lovely brown eyes, dazzle everyone, yet they hold a glimmer of distain and vague amusement. Sometimes they are dark, and luminous, whose sensuous vulnerability could make a man go weak at the knees.
When she laughs the very sound of it is so intoxicating it could enchant the deaf.
Her elegance sweeps through a room like a breath of fresh air, she looks like the cat that got the cream; but, beware, her claws are poised ready to strike, as is her tongue ready to lash out in the most beguiling of manner that you don't even notice you have been subtly whipped into submission.
When you see her walking down a street, you'll say, "Now there is a fine looking woman"
Her hair a glorious rich brown with hints of subtle blond running through it, is coiffed to perfection - swept up on the top of her head in a neat chignon.
Her dress is fashionable, it moulds her body that is of medium height, curvy, voluptuous and strong.
The shape of her face is slightly round and full, her chin strong like her nose.
Her neck is long and lovely, her lips always painted ruby red.
Her voice is sweet, yet laced with contempt.
She is hard, cold, soft and warm.
Your adore her and despise her.
You want her, she assails your senses, like an unwanted drug you crave for her attention.
But, you cant have her for she seems immune to love, its as if her heart is full of hardness and chill.
She thirsted after the need for control, she abused as though her actions would quench her thirst with each beating she administered.
Yet it was never enough for her.
I lived in constant fear of her, my mother.
She died the kind of death no one ever likes to discuss, it was sudden.
It was dramatic, I felt as though the carpet had been pulled from under me.
It was permanent. When someone dies without warning the ball is hit straight between your eyes. You don't have time to choose which way to run, all you can do is absorb the shock of impact.
This was no temporary separation with the hope of later reconciliation between us, I couldn't shout out, "Wait a minute, Im not ready for you to go just yet, I need you, come back" as a result this has become an irrevocable physical fracture.
Every relationship is affected by ambivalence, every mother an amalgam of the good and the bad.
To mourn my mother fully I needed to look back and acknowledge the flip side to her abuse, I couldn't, and unfortunately I only remember my mother as only half of what she was.
My mothers infliction of physical and emotional abuse damaged any sense of self I may have had and my ability to trust, belief in personal safety and perception of the world as a meaningful place.
Mourning the abusive mother is an attempt to take back as much as possible of what was robbed, although it doesn't invalidate the abuse, it doesn't have to be about feeling sad. It is about LETTING GO, and setting oneself free.
I still today, 35 years after her death cannot think of anything good that came from her, all I know is that my chance for reconciliation also died with her. There would never be an apology, a reversal or pay back for the way she treated me; and this dashed potential is another loss that has had to be acknowledged and mourned. I still find myself today wanting to scream at her, and tell her how she hurt me and how I never ever felt loved or nurtured by her. My mother will never be able to say " Im sorry" she will never be able to find a therapist who will help her change. She will never, in effect, become the mother she never was.
But, she'll also never be physically able to abuse me again.
Yet, there are always cyclical triggers, resurrecting grief responses, sensory reminders that bring up the old feelings again and temporary upsurges of grief. I can never quite get through mothers day, and sometimes I want to just smash every Hallmark stand I see with cards displaying " To Mum" or when it is her birthday, and I find myself wondering what she would have been like now in her older years, perhaps more mellow, more forgiving, more tolerant, more loving, perhaps not!
Whenever it is my birthday, although my head knows it, my heart subconsciously longs for that phone call, the birthday card, it never comes and never did.
And then there are those subtle triggers, the ones that sidle up to you without warning, emerging from around a corner, tapping you on the shoulder when you thought you had other things on your mind.
For years after her death, I would find myself walking in the street and convinced that I had just seen my mother. There would be no doubt about it in my mind; thoughts would race through my mind that she faked her death to get away from me and my sisters and there she was in the flesh acting as though we didn't exist, and when I look back searching the crowd for her, and she isn't there, it is scary.
Reaching milestones in my life, my teenage years, graduation, my first boyfriend, my wedding, my first baby, her absence was painfully obvious, I once imagined these occasions and expected her to be there, when she wasn't my assumptions clashed with reality in the most dissonant of ways. I found myself mourning again at each milestone not only what was lost, but what will never be.
My mother never offered protection and support when she was alive and I find I have had to grieve for what I once needed but never had.
Mourning doesn't just end one day and grief wont eventually disappear for good. I wish it did, for I wouldn't still be mourning for my mother 35 years later at the age of 48!
Full resolution of mourning is a state of consciousness so difficult - if not impossible - to reach, that most of our attempts will inevitably fall short and leave us feeling inept.
Some losses you truly don't get over. Instead you get around them and past!
I find that grief is something that continues to get reworked and reworked and yes reworked.
The intervals between grief responses lengthen over time, but the longing never goes away.
It seems to always hover at the edge of my awareness, and surfaces at any time, any place in the least expected ways. This incidentally isn't pathological. It is normal, and this is why I have found myself at
13, 18, 21, 32, 48 unwrapping a gift, walking across a street, seeing a mother and daughter embrace doubled over and missing my mother because she died when I was 12.
I now find myself in middle age as a result of my mothers death at such an early age longing for the guidance of a more mature, experience woman. I have missed the passing down of woman-knowledge to know what it is like as an adult woman to go through menopause, and what its like to look back at your life and think about dying. Of course my mother never got to do that she was 32 when she died.
I find myself now grieving for the knowledge that has never been passed down, that perhaps I could have had.
Our mothers are our most direct connection to our history and our gender. Regardless of how well or not so well she did her job, the void their absence creates in our lives is never completely filled again.
People kindly say, " well you still have your children, and you have a husband, and you have friends, " Thats all completely true. But I still don't have a mother, I still didn't grow up with a mothers love, and all I have ever wanted is my mother.
However, my mothers death basically released me. It meant though that I have had to piece together a female image my own.
As my mothers death was sudden I have lived a life in which I have always felt that calamity might be lurking around every corner, and that some terrible loss might come at any moment for which there is no preparation or defense. The death of my parents basically sent the message that relationships are impermanent and liable to end at any time an awareness that dramatically shaped my emerging personality as a young adult.
I believe that my mother suffered mental illness and childhood abuse which rendered her as a mother incapable of responding to me her daughter emotionally.
She was physically present, but of no emotional substance like the body of a car with nothing under the hood. But, as her daughter I kept turning the key in the ignition, hoping that if I did it just right the motor might start up this time. The only time she showed any emotion was when she was angry and I would become her punching bag as an outlet for her anger. From a very early age I really felt that I was on my own. I couldn't depend on her, and so over the years believed that I couldn't depend on anyone, and attracted emotionally abandoning men into my life. I have always had to take care of myself, fostering an attitude of I don't need anybody, and I can do everything on my own!
A MAJOR STEP IN MY HEALING PROCESS HAS BEEN TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT MY MOTHER NEVER LOVED ME PROPERLY, INFACT DID NOT LOVE ME ALL.
This acknowledgement has hurt like hell, I have fought against this truth for many, many, years, and have looked under every stone, in every corner, on every shelf, in every cupboard, and with every man, colleagues and friends for that MATERNAL VALIDATION AND APPROVAL that just never came!
FEELING AND TALKING THROUGH THE PAIN, THE HUMILIATION OF BEING AN UNLOVED CHILD, THE ANGER TOWARD MY COLD AND ABUSIVE MOTHER, THE ANXIETY I HAVE CARRIED OF TURNING INTO HER, THE FEAR OF MATERNAL RETRIBUTION FOR HATING HER WILL BECOME MY HEALING SALVE.
But, my God is it hard! My task is to look at my mother as objectively as I can, choose the memories and traits I want to keep and carry them with me as I move forward with my life. To realize that although I was an abused and abandoned daughter I am never completely abandoned unless I too leave myself behind!
TO BE CONTINUED.....MY FOSTER MOTHER.