Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Still not sure

This is not a positive post. Read at your own risk.

Have you ever had a favorite picture or family story that you cherished- almost relied on, only to find later that what you had thought wasn't true? I have held on to that belief like a security blanket, and since scanning that photo yesterday I feel as though my Wubbie has gone missing.

Recently I was tagged for a Thinking Meme in which I said that my prized possession is a picture of my mother holding me at birth. Yesterday, after I scanned that photo I decided not to use it in Fun Monday. Actually, after closer inspection of that picture, what I saw was not the immeasurable out pouring of love... it was something else. I can't explain it. Bear with me for a moment as I give you a very cheesy analogy of my life.

It's as if all my life I have been told that I had this beautiful horse, the most beautiful horse in the world. I have a few pictures of it, but one picture in particular is so special to me because over the years the beauty of this horse was exaggerated more and more. I see the picture... yes. I can see that the horse is pretty. Since I have never seen another horse in my life, I begin to believe that it is indeed the most beautiful horse in the world. Later, after seeing a horse in person I realize that the picture isn't even of a horse. It's a freakin mule.

I was told at the age of 11 that I was an unwanted pregnancy, that my real father had beaten her mercilessly- accusing that I wasn't his child. I was told that I was hated before I was even born. This all came out one day while I was visiting my childhood shrink. I was forced to go because I was a "troublesome child", always making her angry. She said this to my shrink right in front of me after I had told him that I had always felt unloved and unwanted. That day my worst fears were more than confirmed. I had no doubt finally that it was true, especially from the cold and toneless way in which she said it. At that moment I did not exist. She made no move to even acknowledge that I was even in the room.

My whole life (as well as my brothers) I was told that she wished I had never been born. She even went as far one day to say that I probably enticed my father into molesting me, and that we would all be better off if he had just "jerked off" the day I had been conceived. She also made it a point to make me feel disgusting about what my father did to me, and would snidely reference it in passing to hurt me, using explicit words.

My brothers and I were told horrible things including the fact that she basically had to prostitute herself to take care of us after she and the asshat got divorced. She would accept dates with men, not telling them she had kids. She would then bring us all on the date and "pay for it" later, usually behind closed doors. The only silver lining to that precious little tidbit is that I know at the very least she cared enough for us to sacrifice for us in that way, so we could eat. I refuse to accept that burden, and though I have told my husband that given no other choice, I wouldn't hesitate to do that for my children, I would never- ever tell them, let alone make them responsible.

What made this picture so special to me was the love I thought I saw in it. Whenever I looked at this picture, I knew for one brief moment in time, despite having carried me for 9 months hating me the whole while, that she loved me at the beginning of my life outside of her. I believed what I saw was love personified.

Yesterday when I was scanning photos, I was able to see this picture like I had never seen it before as it took up almost the whole of my monitor. I see now that she wasn't even really looking at me, her eye appears to be open from leaning on her hand. What I see is no longer love. Maybe relief, absolutely exhaustion. I think its her eyes, they are so void of anything. I know because she has told me, that she has become very good at pretending and acting, being what people want her to be. Was this just another example of that? Why the semi smile, a smile I had thought to be bigger and just... well more- and the blank stare? I am confused at what I see, but I know now that what I had thought doesn't exist. It's not what I had thought. It's a mule.

I now regret scanning the stupid thing.

I look at this picture for example, with cynicism.

At first I contemplated settling for this picture yesterday as a cheap substitute.I then had a memory of me wandering the trailer park we lived in after my real father left her. He was off gambling all of our money away, doing God knows what and buying a car we couldn't afford. I remember being a little older than this buy a year or 2, and wandering without shoes, my toes bleeding on the hot pavement.

So you see, this picture will not do. Though I have a bizarre satisfaction that I had moments of reprieve, usually because other people were present. I know now that a lot of things were bought for me out of guilt because of what I experienced when I was older. Blood money, hush money in form of dolls and tea sets.

When I look at the rest of my life in form of photos, I see lies and deception. I wonder exactly when the abuse started , and since most of my earliest memories involve abuse... all other pictures are tainted. I cannot accept what some of those pictures seem to say to me. I know that for the most part those were special occasions and though that might also be a brief glimmer of happiness, it was most certainly wedged between bookends of pain. I can remember with such clarity being forced to smile for the camera.

Though pictures like these are few and far between, they are a little more accurate as to how I actually felt. In the first picture, my mother dumped all of my clothes out of my dresser and made me refold them while screaming at me. Probably because my room was not perfect like she expected it to be. I wonder why she would want to chronicle my pain and humiliation with a picture.

The next picture truly shows how I really felt during my childhood. This picture also is a time stamp for me because I remember the abuse getting worse after we moved into this house with my step-dad, before they were married. I was also miserable because I had gone from being a minority and being considered just white in an all black neighborhood, being picked on and occasionally beat up on the apartment complex play ground- to being picked on for being a Beaner in a small redneck town.

*On a side note, this is why I get angry when being accuse of being "one of those white people who was lucky enough to have been born a cracker, that treats black people poorly". A coworker from Nigeria once went on a tirade, lumping me in with a "you white people" statement. I went into a frothy frenzy and told her to never refer to me in that way. I have experienced racism. If you really want to piss me off, call me racist. This is why I have no qualms about talking about my Beaner-ism. Though I mostly identify with being white, mostly because we never really discussed my heritage. My mother didn't particularly feel proud of hers, and made it a point to not speak Spanish as a kid because she didn't want to considered one of those "dumb Mexicans with an accent". In southern California, in those days, Mexican were treated very poorly too. This probably has a lot to do with me not disclosing that I was half Mexican when enlisting in the Navy, I wanted to get the job I wanted because I was smart enough, not because I filled a quota. Oddly enough, I have experienced racism here in Iowa, once people hear that I am half Mexican.*

I hate both of these pictures and do not know why I keep them. I guess it's so I know that when I am told what a perfect mother she was to us (thank God I finally told her off 3 years ago, and haven't talked to her since), and that we have it all wrong, we are liars, she did the best she could, that she is always right, that we are the ones that are crazy...

I have proof. Proof not of a beautiful horse, the most beautiful horse in the world, but proof of a mule.

Which makes forgiving her nearly impossible.


mark said...

Wow. I feel so sorry for you that your childhood was so awful, but I'm glad to know that you've risen above it all to become the person you are. Thanks for sharing your story.

Maggie said...

Mert -

Nothing in a silly comment can tell you how sorry I am for the crappy mule you got stuck with. However, Like Mark commented you have risen yourself to be 100 times the person. Your girls are so lucky.

Jill said...

I want to say something, but I'm not sure what to say. I read every word today and now I want to read your archives. You are inspiring...

Robin (Pensieve) said...

{{{{{cyberhugs to the nth degree}}}}}

Mari said...

I want to repeat what Jill said! Your writing is amazing; you truly share your feelings. I'm glad you told off your mom too!

Karmyn said...

No matter how horrible your mother was - you can thank her for giving you life AND then be PROUD OF YOURSELF for turning out to be an amazing mom and person!!! You owe her nothing - you owe yourself a big piece of rewarding chocolate.

Jenny Ryan said...

Once again, I just want to acknowledge you for all that you survived, AND for how you are creating such a different life experience for yourself and your family!!

ChrisB said...

What a moving post thank you for sharing this bless you.

Mert said...

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate it. I am so thankful to have a blog where I can expunge all of the sadness and just plain bad feelings.

And knowing that I have lovely, wonderful people sending me positive vibes and happy thoughts taboot? It doesn't get much better than that. :O)

Peg said...

My first time here...came via Erik's blog for the 'fun monday'...

I love both entries, and the sets of pictures you put up for each--this entry is very moving, and clearly you embody the phrase, "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger..." You are a very beautiful and strong woman!

Gattina said...

I have read this post the day you published it, because I saw the picture of your mother holding you in her arms and looking down at you. I had only seen the picture and without reading anything I thought "She looks like if she is asking herself, what should I do now with this thing ?" And then when I read the whole post I felt I had been right. Then I waited for the second part and time went by but I made a note to check your blog to read the rest but now I can't find it. You write so well, it really kept my attention like a good book. Did you write a continuation ? If yes please let me know. After your Blog break of course. Hope you have a nice time !