I Saw My Mother
“Eden, whatever happened to your mother? Did you end up going to see her?” says all the emails in my inbox.
Well….sort of. Yes, I “saw” her…I “saw” her as I pushed my way past her and entered her house.
Yep, that happened.
Now you see, if you remember from the post “I realized that I am the ugliest person at the gym” I had asked my mother if she could sit down and talk with me about my plans for the nonprofit; her response being to go completely ballistic and via text tear me into a million tiny little pieces that she used to ignite the fire that was my brother. Basically I got bitch slapped via text for a few days by both of them. Amidst the bitch slapping though, there were several texts that pertained to some items that I had left at their house when I moved out thirteen years ago.
When I disowned my family nineteen months ago, it wasn’t planned. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely necessary and should have been done a long time before that, I just didn’t know that I was living our “final moments” until in retrospect I realized that they were.
When I was permanently kicked out of my house thirteen years ago I didn’t have a new home to move into. I wasn’t moving to my own apartment or in with my ex, I was moving into someones fully furnished guest room; complete with their out of season clothes hanging in the closet. I packed a couple of suitcases and the rest of my stuff I left behind. When I left her house a short while later and moved in with my ex, I went back to my parents house, retrieved a few more of my things, and the rest I moved into their basement; a basement owned by literal hoarders.
A basement that houses everything from thousands of empty medication bottles that “might be needed someday” to a TV from the 70’s that only plays a picture in shades of yellow and green but “will work when we get it fixed,” to nearly everything my brothers and I have ever owned in the entire existence of our creation. The basement is like some dim and dusty museum of memories that look a lot happier than they actually were.
Thirteen years later and for no reason other than the fact that I had not yet retrieved them and that my hoarding parents only ever descent into the basement so that they can cram more stuff in there, my things were still in the place where I had packed them away. Now though, after going nineteen months without any real contact with my family, I was starting to think that I might never see those things again. Of those things, there were really only two that I wanted back.
Two things that since the moment I found out I was pregnant with a girl, I had dreamt of passing down to her.
Those two things being the doll that had been my best friend and a dollhouse that had housed the loving family that I had always wanted to be a part of; the family that lived out the memories that I longed to be mine.
After the text bitch slapping I didn’t hear from them for several weeks until my father texted me late one afternoon and told me that the items would be at his office and that I needed to pick them up the very next day.
I was pretty angry. This to me just seemed like another ploy to get me to talk to them on their terms; like “hey, we know that we have absolutely no bargaining chips left with you except for the fact that we have a couple of items that we know meant a lot to you, so if you don’t come get them this instant, you will never get that cherished moment that we know you have always dreamt about having with your daughter.”
I took the bait.
I thought about how it was my girl child’s birthday the next day (my parents timing conveniently planned to tug at my heart strings), how I hadn’t been able to afford to buy her a present, and how happy this would make her. I just kept picturing her face light up when she saw the dollhouse and despite my better judgment, I took the bait. I confirmed that he was bringing the doll and the dollhouse and then I called Frisbee Boy’s Mother and asked her to go with me the next morning.
I wasn’t happy about any of it. Not the one and a half round trip drive to his office that was causing me to have to immediately rearrange my work schedule, not the fact that I was going to be seeing them, and absolutely not the fact that I was once again at their mercy.
I had a pit in my stomach the size of planet earth and I just felt rotten thinking about the entire situation.
Frisbee Boy’s Mom and I pulled up to my father’s office and what do you know? My father wasn’t even there. Not only was he not there, but neither was the doll or any of the dollhouse accessories.
What was there was an empty dollhouse and a mountain of old toys that I didn’t even know were still in existence. They were piled up to my chin just outside his office near the waiting room, in a building that my entire extended family owns and works out of.
A public shaming at it’s finest.
“Look everyone, we are throwing out every last piece of our daughter, but just out of spite we are keeping everything that actually means something to her.”
As angry as I was before, I was astronomically livid now.
I grumbled and gruffed as I shoved not only my car, but Frisbee Boy’s Mother’s car as well, full of toys covered in 20 years of dust. It was so gross that we found ourselves ravaging a package of baby wipes just to try and clean up a little before we got into our cars. Then the two of us drove to a nearby bank parking lot where we could more privately discuss the situation.
“Discuss,” meaning that I had an entire conversation on my own which I unfortunately more or less yelled directly at poor Frisbee Boy’s mother.
“I am so mad!! Like seriously, is this some kind of sick joke!? He texted me and told me to come here! He was the one who said to come get my doll and dollhouse today! I confirmed with him three times that I was ONLY coming here for the dollhouse and the doll. That I had NO room in my car for anything else. That those two things are very important to me and I wanted to give them to my daughter for her birthday tomorrow! He knows it’s her birthday tomorrow! Why would he do this? Because it’s funny to him! Because he has no control over me anymore so he used the only bargaining chip he had left, made me jump through hoops, and in the end proved that he is STILL in control of me! DAMMIT I AM SO MAD. You know what? I drove out here to get my stuff and I’m not leaving without it!”
With that I hopped into my car.
“I’m going there right now and I’m getting my things!”
I started the fifteen minute drive to my parents house where I intended, come hell or high water, to get my things back. I had absolutely had it with them and at this point fueled up entirely on pure adrenaline and thirty one years of anger, I had lost all ability to think logically.
Now my father has always thrown me under the bus when it comes to my mother, but it’s my mother that is the absolute crazy one. He rarely stands up for me but for some unknown reason my mother tends to be slightly less crazy when he is around. Most of me thinks it’s because she plays him like a fiddle and she needs to keep in in the dark as to much of what she has done to me and how she really acts.
I knew that she would be home but I had no idea where my father was. I knew that facing my mother alone was actually an idea ten times worse than facing both of them together, so I sent my father a text that just said “I can’t even believe you. I’m not playing these mind games. I’m driving to the house right now and I’m getting my stuff back.”
I arrived at the house, rang the doorbell, stood in a place that I knew she wouldn’t be able to see me from the front door window, and when she opened the door I just walked in right past her.
“What are you doing here?” she exclaimed.
“I think you know what I’m doing here, I’m getting my stuff” I half yelled as I was running down to the basement. At this point it suddenly occurred to me that I had basically just shoved my way into a person’s house, where I was intending to remove items, and flee from the home.
I was robbing them.
Great. Let’s just tack a felony onto my life story.
Oh well, too late now.
I was prepared to tear the basement apart but lo and behold, right on top of a big pile of junk, was my doll and all her accessories. Next to it, a bin with the dollhouse accessories. They had been purposefully passed over and left there.
I grabbed them, turned to go, and my mother wouldn’t let me leave. She just sat down on the stairs and refused to move.
Frisbee Boy’s Mother was waiting for me on the driveway, later telling me that she was unsure if she should have followed me in or stayed outside and called the police. According to her my father pulled in and made an angry beeline directly into the house.
He came down the stairs and in a slightly panicked sounding voice said “what is going on here?” I exclaimed “she won’t let me leave with my stuff and I’m telling you right now it’s not staying here. Now let me out of the basement! I have text messages from you saying to pick up my doll and my dollhouse and you planned this whole scheme on purpose. I’m done! Can’t you see why I want out of this family? This is so absolutely abnormal who in their right minds would want to continue to subject themselves to this? For the first time in my life I’m happy and I’m healthy and it’s all because you aren’t in my life anymore!!”
A look flashed across my father’s face that actually made my heart break a little for him. After all that he has put me through, that one look strummed at the only genetically linking strand of DNA that intrinsically causes someone to care about their family.
He looked unbelievably regretful and weary down to the very core of his soul.
My father started arguing with my mother; my mother refusing to let me take the dollhouse furniture and my father telling her to let me out of the basement. I’m now in tears (Frisbee Boy’s Mom said that she was down to her last minutes before springing into action outside), and I’m trying to get past a very large woman blocking the stairway while holding an armful of treasures.
I think my Father knew that this was the end. Someone else was here, the game was over, it was time to wave the white flag.
He firmly told my mother to move.
I went up the stairs carrying the only victory that I have ever had after enduring a lifetime of battles and I was astounded at how after all these years, I once again found myself fleeing from their house; the pain just as fresh as it had been all those years before.
I loaded my treasure’s into my car, telling my father that I didn’t want the junk that he had left at his office, that it was too painful to look at the tangible reminders of a childhood that almost was, and that he could either keep them or it would go in the dumpster. My mother said “throw it all away we don’t want it” and yet my father, he wanted to keep it.
I helped unload Frisbee Boy’s Mother’s car and as I piled years of unwanted memories on their driveway my father said to me “someday you will be back and all your things will be waiting for you.”
It broke my heart because honestly, the thought that I had next was “the next time I am back will be after I’ve buried your body and I have to dig through a lifetime of the memories that you have left behind.”
It’s amazing that after all these years and all the pain, that my heart is still able to feel so broken.
I’m crying now as I write this and I’m not sure why. The whole situation just hurt, it still hurts. I think it’s why it took me so long to write this post, because it hurts just even thinking about it.
The trickery, being in the house, and thinking that maybe I saw in my father the one instance of regret that I have been searching for my entire life.
That one look that says “I was wrong. You were worth something and I’m sorry that I never saw it.”
Was it there? I don’t know. I want to think that it was. The child in me begs for it to be real. I want to think that it was the bittersweet closure that I needed, but truth be told, maybe it was just what I wanted to see.
I’ll never know. I’m not brave enough, or strong enough, or weak enough, or dumb enough to go back and find out.
I’m free now.
You can’t hurt me anymore.