Goodbye Mother

So…I did something dumb. I am just a human. Trying the best I can, you know. I woke up and it was dark. It was so insanely dark. I was searching for reasons, searching in the dark. Like a small child, curled up and scared, I only thought of one thing. I thought of my mother. When I called she said she could not speak, she was in a meeting, but would called back. Then she called to ask why I was upset and I said it was not something that I could put into a sentence so she would call after her meeting. We spoke and I wanted to tell her about me. About how I was in a lot of pain and no longer wanted to live.

She let me know that she was pleased that I was going to do a masters as my sister had informed her yesterday. I explained that I had failed a component of my course and I am in no state to do my exam tomorrow so I will be graduating later. This set her off. She asked why it was the first she was hearing of it and I explained that an F is not something you openly come to a parent with for fear of disappointment. However she decided that I had said that it was all her fault, that I was coming to a conclusion that my mental state right now is because of an F grade that I could not tell her about. I did not tell anyone, because I thought I had it handled. I retook and retook, thinking that all would be alright in the end, if I could just improve the grade. It did not improve now and I am at the end. Running out of time. So I tried to explain to you calmly that I would not graduate until September.

You are irritated. You begin to say how I am weak. I crumble too easily. I want to tell you that I am hurting. So so much and not because of an F, but because I have been through hell and survived it. I was never going to escape without getting burnt. So when you tell me that I crumble too easily and you have experienced more trauma than I will know in my life…explain what you mean. You have only expressed your struggle in moving country and being a single parent. I understand that this world has hurt you. I understand that you have your own problems. Domestic violence is unfair. So is rape. So is child abuse. So is bullying and manipulation. Stop victim blaming. These things crush your soul more than any man could ever break my heart.

So now that I have been crushed to the point where nothing is left and yet somehow I am still fighting, you tell me I crumble too easily. She would not listen. She would not stop the sound of her own voice to take in what I was saying. She never has. And I asked until the point where I was begging. Please listen to me. Stop talking. Talking means that you are not listening. To her, these words are disrespectful. So she said same old with you. Always the same. Always attention seeking. Well you know what, grow up. You are 21 now. You are supposed to be an adult. So get over it. I did not realise adults could not suffer…tell me the secret to suddenly surviving and getting over it. I still cannot let people near me. I am still suffering. The years go by and I am struggling to figure out what is going on with me.

Really, you are the one who is attention seeking, again. Then you wonder why I do not come to you. When I need help, I have to reassure you. You tell me you do not care what I do with my life, figure it out on my own, you are done. You tell me that I do not value you as a mother. If we go back to why I called…I hit rock bottom. I was in crisis and I needed some level of appreciation from you. I needed to feel like I was not a burden, a disappointment or someone who does not deserve to exist. You did not help though. Once again, I felt worthless and here I was giving you value. You think that is what children are for but you are so wrong. You could not even reassure me about a bad grade, let alone about ending my life.

Rupi was right. We really do need to stop looking for healing at the feet of those who broke us. So I am done. Completely done. I tried and now I am done trying. Other people hear me when you will not, so I will not look to you. You gave me every reason to cut you out. You gave me exactly what I was looking for. What I expected. You may be my mother and you will never know how much I love you or how grateful I really am, because you simply do not listen. I do not measure up on your materialistic scale. This time, you were right. We should not talk. So goodbye mother, I am done with you.

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For Mother:

You called about the dent in my car.

Never mind the one in my brain.

Never mind that I have switched off.

Never mind that I was not calling to

Tell you what had happened.

I was really calling to tell you that

I miss you. That is why the small talk.

I want to listen to the sound of your

Voice, no matter what you are saying.

I called because I need you.

I called because I am hurting.

I called because the only way I know

To be close to you and hear your voice

Is by talking about what happened.

I cannot explain what is going on inside.

You will never understand, so I tell you

About the day to day happenings.

You tell me yours and I listen

Wishing the words you were saying

Were different. Wishing for more.

I wish I could crawl scared into your

Arms and you would hold me.

You would put me back together,

But instead, I tell you about

The dent put in my car yesterday.

Why I Tried To Kill My Mother

I tried to kill my mother, because she told me to,

Because I used to wish every day that a bus would hit her,

Because I was hurting so much from all that she had done.

The words she said rang deep, her actions were long lasting.

She asked why I hated her and I did not know,

Asked why I wanted to end my life, I said because of her.

She said she would rather it was hers than mine,

But would never take her own,

So she told me to kill her if I wanted it so.

I tried and I tried, put my hands round her neck,

But the tears, they came and she looked at me shocked,

She asked what it was, I said mother I cannot do it.

When she wondered what it was, that had made me want to,

I explained all I felt was hate, all the time,

I asked why do not love me because I truly love you,

I cannot kill you, I love you more than I ever knew I could,

I thought it was hate, it was a mix up of emotions,

But now that I am the one trying to kill you, I cannot.

I would not be sad if you died, that is true.

I would think that your time has come, as with everyone,

I would think that we had tried all that we could,

But you had taught me well and I grew strong,

When you hit me, you never knew the day would come

When I would hit back, when I would overpower you,

But my strength I will never use it to ever kill you.

I realised in that moment how much I loved you.

You were my mother, my everything, my world,

You were the only one I would ever get

And though you are flawed and I wished for another,

It took me years to realise it could not be so.

Years of pain and years of hurt to realise you could not die,

I, myself, did not want to live without you,

I thought I could kill you and then myself,

I thought there would be no protesting then.

I guess I never really wanted to die,

Perhaps I did it all to hear the words,

All I ever wanted was an I love you.

 

Dear Mum,

You say that you are waiting for an apology from two months ago now. Do you not know that I am still waiting for an apology from years ago. I had to forgive without the sorry. Why are you so self-centred that you need it to be about you, always? I have accepted this. I know you well now. You were the one who hurt me. You made me cry. Why should I apologise for that? I cannot do it. I will not apologise for my existence, my emotions, the way you made me. Now, I am my own person. I am going to stand strong in my actions. I was hurting and it was because of you. That is not fair. Get some perspective. Put yourself in my shoes and stop being so critical. I am human. I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I will never be good enough for you and that is not fair. Sometimes, I react to you and maybe that is wrong or seems unfair to you. However, you should see that it is natural to have reactions and emotions. Stop pushing them out of me. I have to deal with yours every day. Just try to learn something from people’s responses. Please.

Mother

I want to start by saying that my mother is a remarkable woman. I do admire her so much and after reading this, you may wonder why.

My mother was born and raised in Zimbabwe. This is now a poverty stricken nation, but it was not always that way. She grew up in a huge house with servants. As the youngest of six siblings, she was extremely spoilt. My grandfather was absent and abusive towards his wife and sons. He often cheated and who knows how many relatives I really have out there. However, my mother was fortunate. The last child in a big family usually is. Discipline is important in an African family and this is often done by beating the bad out of you. My mother never had a hand laid on her. She was let off so lightly and this left so much jealously amongst her siblings.

She had a private education, the only one out of six to be so lucky. She was educated by German nuns in a very strict convent school. Despite her intelligence and the importance my mother places on education, she was a rebel. Her grades were poor, even though she is incredibly smart and she got into mischief, through talking too much. Something that I would now describe both a flaw, as well as a strength. As a result of little supervision and a rebellious nature, she fell pregnant at the age of eighteen.

In an African, Christian home, this was not an easy thing, especially as the father was a man with few cares and had no interest in raising a child. This meant that my mother would be raising a child on her own. Having thought about the parent she is now, I realise that at the time she probably lacked the responsibility and capability to raise a child. She dropped out of school, with only poor O-Level grades and had the child in her mother’s home. She had begun working for Air Zimbabwe and saw the United Kingdom as a dream destination. This worked out well as her father was English, so she could easily move.

She would fly back and forth often, leaving her child in the care of her mother for long periods of time. Eventually, she managed to make plans to set up her life in England and wished to bring her child before she was four, in order to have an education in a more developed country. This was not easy: a single parent living in a new country, trying to climb on a career ladder. My sister ended up spoilt at times, as an almost overcompensation. However, my mother remembered things that she had seen and picked up from childhood. So she too attempted to put discipline into her children through physical abuse.

In a Western society, this proved difficult. There were things that stood out to a child as abnormal. You see families with two parents, big houses and pets. You do not see dysfunction or violence, which is strange because it is more common than I ever knew. The media continuously feeds us a perfect picture.

My mother did an excellent job at raising her children as a single parent, that is unquestionable. She placed good values and the importance of education into me and my sister. We had a large age gap, so my mother could always provide for us financially and I would consider myself extremely privileged, but never spoilt.

It is evident though that my mother has some serious problems with herself. She is a woman who has always needed a man to define her worth. She cannot be alone and for her, it does not matter how awful a person is as long as they can tell her how great she is. She went from one man straight to another and my alcoholic father was one of them. I was born into an abusive home, my mother had suffered from domestic violence so she hit her children. This was hard, because my father never touched me or did anything but love me, but I cannot remember it. I has all been overshadowed by my mother’s words and actions.

My mother’s attention seeking nature is an important part of the emotional abuse. She likes to be mean. She says awful things to everyone around her. As long as it makes her feel better that is the only part that matters. I have no idea how she ever gets anyone to love her. I struggle to get anything good out of being nice. This is another bad parenting lesson. Negativity and abuse do not work on people.

I will never forget all the words she said. All the times that I was told I was disrespectful, worthless, rude, mean, a horrible person or whatever it was. All the times that she brought out the belt for me, all the screams and tears. All the times I tried to say that I was sorry and that I loved her and all it was rewarded with were abuse. I was blamed for everything, every man that walked out on her, every time I was not the best, because since when is anyone ever the best? I remember when I had escaped and was on my own. The first time I felt disappointed in myself, like I had done wrong or hurt others…I went and got a belt and I hit myself until I felt pain and then I knew not to hurt others again in the same way my mother had taught me.

A child of abuse. You miss the pain and the hurt, you crave it. You need to hurt yourself. You cannot do anything right. You cannot accept any positive words. You cannot be proud of yourself and you struggle to ever even feel anything good. That takes a long time to undo. That is a lot of damage.

Nonetheless, I would not be here without any of it. All of it. It made me. I am strong because of it. I fight back because of it. I am empowered because of it. That is the sadness and the irony really. That you could ever feel grateful to an abuser. When that abuser is your own flesh and blood and you have to deal with the hurt every single day, sometimes it is all that you have. It is your own personal version of the ‘I love you’ that other children received. How wrong is that?