I have lucid dreams–just another side effect of my anti-depressant. I kinda like them–the vivid memories of people I once knew and the intense emotions, the darkness and hyper-sexuality of the whole scene; it’s like another life I lead when I sleep. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have these dreams. Don’t know what I’d do if they stopped.
Then there are the dreams involving my mother. In these, I’m younger or older, usually an only child, I have a better relationship with my step-father, and Gramma’s still alive. In these dreams, my mother’s gone. I’m trying to get her to come back, but she doesn’t want to. She doesn’t answer my calls, no one can get a hold of her. I talk to Gramma and she tells me she doesn’t understand her daughter. I go to her job–no one knows of me. She’s hiding and I don’t understand why she hates me. But Daddy is there for me. I have these dreams a lot. They really put a damper on the day…emotionally. I’ve told my mom about them and she goes, “That’s crazy!” but we’ll talk more about those sorts of reactions later.
In waking life, my biological father left when I was a toddler and my mom was sole caregiver, alongside a step-father who may as well have gone too. When I was small, there would be many nights neither one of them came to Gramma’s to pick up their children after work and bring us home.
They were too young for kids.
But my brother doesn’t remember anything because I did a good job shielding him.
So I guess it’s just me, like always.
I wonder if these dreams, aside from the obvious explanation above, are my subconscious’ way of preparing me for my mother’s inevitable death that I won’t be prepared for just like she wasn’t ready for her mother’s. I wasn’t ready for Gramma to go either. She was my second mother, though my real one would probably disagree. It’s what she likes to do best these days.
My mother has been gaslighting me ever since I can remember. My memories are never accurate. Nothing that traumatized me ever happened. She was not a neglectful parent.
Even at 35, you are not allowed to call out your mother on anything, ever, and expect to have adult, rational conversation. I get, “That didn’t happen, ” which is infuriating. I wasn’t the one who was drunk all the time, I was a little sponge with events and words and shit embedded in my tiny mind and then you wonder why I’m so sensitive.
Now she’s reading these motivational and therapeutic things online and thinking about them in connection with her grandchildren’s mental health and telling me all about how my brother is shitty to his kids. It takes everything inside me to not lunge out of my seat and throttle the woman. What about me?! What about what you lacked? How are the connections not made? Where’s the introspection? Is it generational? Do we all become our mothers? Am I witnessing it?
Have I successfully ended the cycle by not having children?
Did I do good for once in my life?
I would never want to make a child feel the things I’ve felt.
“Your Gramma’s gonna die someday,”
she’d tell me. She’d always been dying,
since she was a girl–
her mother tried to smother her
with a pillow before walking out.
She pretended to die
to save herself, for
men to treat her meanly,
all of them,
one right after the other.
She’d sing me the song of Tom Dooley,
terrifying in her barrotone
as she rocked and
held me tighter than
I would have liked.
I miss her, but not like that–
not in that lamp light,
or with that breath,
not when she showed me
the scary realities
“I should like to tidy things up and disappear.” –Sylvia Plath
I’m getting to be in the “heavily tattooed” category, so when I was teaching, kids would always ask me, “Do tattoos hurt?”
“Of course they hurt! It’s needles jabbing you until you don’t feel it any more. But they also feel kind good–wait, you don’t understand that yet–you’re only fourteen….or…no, you probably do.” I knew about some kids who were already starting to cut on themselves (they’d tell me)–those were never the kids who asked since I’m pretty sure they made the connection. I’d be candid with kids in our one-on-ones. They knew I had depression. I knew which of them did too. We were all practically adults here; sad, confused, adult-children.
While teaching sucked ass, at least the money was nice (says a person who has minimal bills). I used the extra cash for tattoos. It had been I could only get work done when I got money for my birthday or Xmas. I had never had extra funds for bullshit before and it was alright. Plus, I hated that school so much and cried more often than not while home that the three hour plus sessions on a holiday Monday felt nice.
Yes, I know it’s gross, but I think tattoos feel good. I used to be best friends with a cutter–I read all the books on her–I get it. I tried to cut once. Threw a picture frame across the room and put a shard of glass to my arm, but I couldn’t do it. It hurt, so I stopped. Like immediately. But if someone else is in control of things–I get it. The sensation is “big adrenaline,” a fearless, indestructible surge. I wonder if that’s how it feels to cutters. They say it’s to let the feelings out or to feel anything at all, but I wonder if it’s the same; a numb rush, almost a non-feeling. I love to be able to get a tattoo when I feel really depressed, but it almost never works out that way. It seems now that I’ve been getting them more often, with less time in between, the pain is starting to mean less. I don’t want to ruin what I have, my socially acceptable self-harm coping mechanism that comes with pretty pictures.
In my family, it’s difficult buying greeting cards for the men. You aren’t a father who taught me things, nor were you there for me. To say you’re the best dad in the world is lying and we both know it. Our cards always end up on the vulgar side, mostly about farts. There aren’t cards for people like us, so many of us without fathers. So I get one ingenuous card that contains no “feeling words” that takes me too long to find, just like my mom and her two dads. Only difference–one of mine doesn’t even get the obligatory sentiment. Live with your decisions, old man.
I raised children; I have three younger siblings. The firstborns know this story. My mother had me at twenty years old and I’m six years older than my brother. Of course I took care of my siblings. You have to. You’re supposed to. What kind of child are you if you don’t? When I was in high school, I told my mother that I had no interest in having children. “You’ll change your mind/No, I won’t/We’ll see” went the fight we’d have until last year. When I became sexually active, the story was, “You’re going to end up just like me” and no teenage girl wants to hear that shit. So when I did at nineteen, still living under my parents’ roof, I did what I had to do. I was only three weeks pregnant. That abortion was the best decision I ever made and I’ve been on birth control since. No regrets. My mother thinks she knows things, but I will never confirm, not even on her death bed.
Not long after the procedure, my mother was snooping through my room while I was out and dropped something in my trashcan and accidentally read a receipt for birth control. Not knowing I had been bleeding for a month straight after terminating a pregnancy, she apparently wasn’t going through all the trashcans in the house. She confronted me which lead to a fight. I had outright asked her for birth control three years earlier, but she said that would give me an excuse to be a whore. Cool…
My very best girlfriend in high school was adopted. In my twenties, my core group of friends contained four adopted kids–all dudes. I became surrounded by it. “Why don’t people adopt kids more?” Because people want a baby who’s a part of themselves. “Why? Seems pretty selfish.” You don’t know what you’re getting. “You don’t know what kinds of crazy shit your biological kid’s going to have.” Then I figured it out, it’s just easier having your own. There’s no paperwork, no money has to exchange hands, no home visits and surveillance. Anyone can have a kid, but only with the least possible effort. Also, you should only have a kid if you are definitely not financially capable of affording one. I think it’s in the rules somewhere.
My friends started telling me they were having babies. The time had passed for “oh no” to be the response and I learned “gross” was also out. “You’re supposed to say congratulations.” “Congratulations, you performed the simplest of biological processes resulting from fuckin”. You did it.” People were having kids who shouldn’t even own a dog. I was appalled and genuinely afraid for some of these children. If I were to have one, what kinds of mental bullshit would I give my kid? Legit mental illness aside, the crazy shit my parents put me through, the meaningless things you remember forever, the unintentionally emotional and psychological abuse.
My childhood was not as traumatizing as it could have been, but still pretty shitty in a way that gave me intense anxiety in all facets of my life. “We did the best we could” I don’t feel makes up for some things, but you can’t change the past, you can only learn from it. I’ve learned not to drink so I don’t give in to the rampant alcoholism in my family. I’ve learned the best is sometimes not good enough and everything is still scary and terrible, so why would I want to bring a child into the world? Just because I’m built to doesn’t mean I have to.
There are too many children in the world as it is who need families to love them. “Then why don’t YOU adopt one?” Ok, I will if I want to. No one’s making you have a baby just like no one’s making me adopt one. The most unexpected fight I ever had was with a close male friend when him and his wife started trying to have a baby. Number one, who tries to have a baby? As far as I know, they happen and you come to terms with it. I told him my thoughts, which I assumed we shared, and by the end of it all, he was telling me how I was going to die alone. Neat. “Hey, shit for brains, we all die alone and your kids are going to put you in a Geraldo level nursing home.”
I found a husband who feels the same way. I knew I would. He has no desire to have children, doesn’t care about his family name, but is giving me shit about getting a vasectomy (I’ll just do it myself, like everything else). Of course, his mother had trouble conceiving her two little miracles and thought of me as a walking womb who’d deliver her grandchildren on command. Her and I haven’t spoken since she told me I must “have no maternal instincts.” Um, fuck you lady, I’m nurturing as shit.
I love children. I really do. And they love me. So do animals and mentally handicapped people. I’m just one of those types who exude patience and trustworthiness or whatever. My teen career dream was to be a child psychologist and after my stint teaching 8th grade last year, feel like I may continue in my studies. Those kids came to me on a daily basis with their problems. Kids who’ve never trusted anyone trusted me after a few months. I have a bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Education. I’ve volunteered at summer camps, worked in children’s behavioral hospitals, and had various positions within the public school system. I’m fun. I have pretty tattoos. I don’t talk to kids like they’re peons. I know I’d be a great mom. I love kids, I just don’t want to have any of my own.