I think about my mother a lot. I try to imagine her childhood. I try to understand the way her entire life stacked up on her to make her the person that she is.
I feel sorry for her. I can even see where she was coming from sometimes. I can understand the sad logic in some of her choices.
But I just don’t think I can forgive her. I have been in enough abusive relationships to know how hard it can be to leave them. And I imagine having children makes it even harder.
I will never have children. I will never have to make that choice. But I know this; a man abusing me is one thing, a man abusing a child is quite another.
I don’t know why she stayed with my father. But then again, I do. She grew up in a household with a violent, abusive father and an emotionally abusive, manipulative mother. Just like me.
I used to fear ending up like her. But I am ending that cycle. I won’t risk doing to someone else what happened to me. I won’t abuse a child. My life history will not repeat itself.
And I have dated enough abusive men to know it would have ended that way for me. But I am not doing that any more either. I would rather spend the rest of my life alone than spend one day with another abusive or manipulative partner.
The funny thing is that my mother did eventually leave my father. When I was 20. Long after it could have made any difference for any of her children.
I’ll never understand why she waited so long. It all just feels so senseless.
My mother is remarried now. I wish I could say to a better man than my father. But he isn’t. In fact, he reminds me so much of her father. I guess she will never be done repaying whatever it is she thinks she owes in her life.
But maybe my real point is that she can’t help it. When all you know is abuse, it’s hard to realize there are other options. Sometimes I wonder if it doesn’t provide some sort of cold comfort.
Maybe sometimes, some abused people become so acclimated to it. Like fish living deep in the ocean depths. They have learned to survive under so much intense pressure that they become dependent on it. They can no longer live without it. They literally die if you take that pressure off them.
But I don’t want to be a fish anymore. And I don’t want to be underwater. I have long called being abused being underwater. It’s from a short story that I have always loved. And I don’t know the name of it. It’s not Breathing Underwater which is a fantastic YA novel.
This is a short story about a girl that is underwater in her house and one day she comes home and her sister is underwater too. And they are kind of swimming around in it. And then she moves out and never finds someone that is quite right for her until she meets a boy that is underwater too. Does anyone know this short story? I’d love to read it again.