I've recently been made aware of a letter my mother wrote before she died that included some very mean things about me. Whether or not she ate her words before she died is neither here, nor there. Since then I've been pretty angry and while that may seem sad, it's actually been super helpful in my grieving process. Instead of spending all my time wallowing over what I've lost, I've been able to step back and look at what I've gained since her death. In honor of honesty and Thanksgiving, I've decided to share something I wrote several years ago.Thanksgiving around my house is like any other holiday... a futile attempt made by my mother to gather our, what she calls selfish, ungrateful family together under one roof in some semblance of mutual affection for each other. At times I wonder if she merely wishes to recreate a time in our lives when she thought everything was fine; when our broken, nuclear arrangement pretended to wear a mask of neutrality to cover up the drunken, apathetic animosity that existed despite my mother's orders of good behavior.
I will never understand her insistence on being the main cook--her obsession with fattening our bellies with her fervent guilt basted with gravy. These tempting mouthfuls of juiciness now replaced with bitterness.
Over the years the family has dwindled due to divorce, death, arrests and insanity. No more do we experience the array of aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents, brothers and sisters-in-law, friends of family and the local kids of the neighborhood packed in our old apartment house that permeated with the scents of baked turkey, gravy, pies and cider... the scent of autumn, of family and of feigned happiness.
Now that my mother is dead, I never have to spend another holiday hell bent on trying to make her happy, because she was unable to do that for herself. She depended on everyone else to be who she wanted us to be so that she could be comfortable in her own skin. Unfortunately for her, we were all our own people with our own minds and lives and so she suffered unnecessarily. She blamed us all for her own misery, a bed she made long before we were even born and insisted on laying in even after we were all adults.
No more guilt, no more wondering if it's okay to leave after two hours because everyone was in their own rooms ignoring each other and she couldn't keep herself awake anyway because she was a junkie on morphine before the cancer was even a blip on the radar of her life.
No more finding her sitting alone in the darkness, smoking a cigarette, hoping someone would catch her so she could manipulate their happiness into a depression that fitted her own.
Sometimes I feel like my mother was a cancer growing in my soul. From the moment she told me that I was a mistake and that she almost aborted me; to the time she slammed her ten pound bible on my chest rebuking me in the name of Jesus Christ, because she was convinced I was possessed; to the last thing she said to me: "Jennifer stop HURTING ME," when I was only trying to get her messy diaper off so I didn't have to leave her laying in her own filth--my mother has spent my entire life trying to make me feel worthless and I have spent mine trying to make her love me.
Now I'm stuck with all this baggage and garbage that I have to spend the rest of MY life working through in the hopes of pulling myself together into some kind of whole person.
But I'm thankful that it's over. I'm grateful that I now have a chance to be my own person, whoever that may be. My life no longer has to be about making my mother proud, in the hopes that she may decide one day that it was worth giving birth to me.