April 26, 2011


There are so many ways I can approach discussing my mother's visit. The easiest for me to personally make sense of, I guess, is to start with the tough stuff, then ease into many good things that happened.

Before we get to this particular week, I think addressing my relationship with my mother is pretty important. For a few years after my parents' divorce, I did not see or speak with her at all. After separating from my father, my mother decided to throw herself full-force back into life, going out with her friends, drinking a lot, and dating. Eventually, it became easier to stay away than to deal with it, and since I had the choice of another home to escape to, that's what I did. It was a very difficult time to live through, and for that reason, it is absolutely never spoken of.

My mother married my father when she was in her early 20s, so I can understand wanting to have some of the experiences she missed out on by choosing to be a young wife and mother. As her child, though, and at barely 12 years old, I was really hurting - it was hard enough to now have a broken home and two separate and completely new lifestyles to get used to, but to see her dating so soon afterwards was really painful. Neither of my parents were drinkers, but now Mom was drinking in excess. She wore too much eye makeup and always had her hair colored and styled - a sharp contrast to the quiet folk artist mother we'd grown up with, always in jumpers. She'd introduce us to her boyfriends and get mad when we tried to tell her how much it bothered us to have to meet these guys.

My mom had always been pretty quiet, something I later learned was not necessarily her demeanor but the result of a deep depression. Being married to my father was a terrible situation for her - they were great friends, and still are now as they live together, but as a married couple, it just didn't work. The severe lows we were accustomed to seeing were now replaced with extreme manic highs; that, matched with her frequent drinking and the fact that I was a teenage girl, meant that we butted heads a lot.

There's one night that I still remember quite vividly, where our arguing came to an apex. I can't remember what the fight was about, just that I ended up shoved into a corner in the kitchen, then thrown onto the floor. She straddled my stomach and held my hands down over my head; leaning in, she whispered:
I wish I'd aborted you when I had the chance.
That was the last time I saw her before court-mandated mediation and therapy. I moved in with my father and his parents, fell deep into binge eating, and gained a hundred pounds between sixth and eighth grade. She kept up her new lifestyle, and one day during our therapy session, she told me that she was pregnant. love this baby boy more than anythingMy thoughts were only that the punishment fit the crime, and I still stayed away. There was so much anger, towards both her and this baby. The therapy sessions stopped, and I didn't see her again until the day Dan was born.

I'm not sure what happened that day, but seeing this sick little baby through the nursery window tore down the wall we'd created between us. There were tears, apologies, and promises to make things better and new. And we never spoke of those years again.

I didn't talk about this at all with my mom while she was out here, but I will have to address it in the letter I write her this week. As I try to hash out the causes of my emotional binge eating and the issues I have with food, I keep going back to this period of time when it all seemed to start.

My family is very much a group of avoiders: we suffered and struggled through that time, but it's easier to pretend that it never happened; we all have problems with weight, but it's easier to pretend that we don't and carry on eating like garbage. I think part of the difficulty of the past week, then, comes from the fact that I am actively confronting my issues and trying to work through them. I don't think my mom necessarily feels threatened by it, but perhaps simply a little afraid - fearful of having to think about the way she was, the way I was, the things that were said and done ... because again, it's easier to forget about it and move on than to talk about the issues and try to work through them.


Ann said...

I'm so sorry you have gone through this, but I applaud you for working through these issues. I firmly believe that you can't really be successful in weight loss until you understand WHY you got big in the first place. It's painful, but will ultimately help you reach your goals. Great job!!!

Amy said...

Wow I don't even know what to say... I can't even imagine. I'm so sorry. I know divorce is a very difficult thing for a child to live through, but all of that on top of everything else, and your mother telling you that in such critical years... well all I can say is NO WONDER. Jesus.

I think that a letter is definitely needed.

Shannon said...

Avoiding such huge issues is never good, but I'm sure we all do it to some extent, and we all suffer for it, too. I think, it's wonderful that you are trying to work through all that happened to you. You will be stronger, and healthier, for it the end. In fact, you already are! Keep it up!

Krista said...

wow, I'm so sorry to hear about all of that. No one deserves to go through that! I'm happy for you though that you know yourself so well and are able to identify the source of your weight problems and are not turning your life around. Keep it up, you are amazing!

Anonymous said...

Such a sad story that hits so close to home. Like you on your journey to confront the sources of your issues with food, I knew that a large part of my problems came from a mother who up and left when I was 2 moving to another state. I rarely saw her, spoke to her only once a month and when I did see her, she hounded me about my weight, which btw was not THAT bad as a kid. I was a little overweight but she gave me issues from the very beginning.

I lived with my dad my entire life and growing up with a single father that was an alcoholic, who, like your mom, relived his youth by always going out partying...yeah, that took its toll too. We've had screaming matches, he was physically abusive... all of this plays a part in my food issues.

I don't talk much about my family life because I like to think that I'm above all of that now and that one day I'll be the kind of parent that my parents never were. Sounds all fine and dandy but it is important to confront your past in order to move on.

I've struggled with this but it's getting better and I'm breaking down those walls little by little. I hope that your experience brings you to a place of peace.

downsizers said...

I am sure this was tough for you to write because you had to live through it again. This is a big step in your recovery because now you have a support system. As we share our pain with others it is a lighter load because this group will help you carry it. Now - be successful in spite of this thing you could use as an excuse if you chose to do so. This battle will be won and it will be because you found the determination to overcome. I applaud you for what you have accomplished.

Tammy said...

I can't believe your mom said that.:( I'm sorry that she did and that you had to go thru everything that you did. My ex and I have been separated since August 2009. I still haven't brought any guys around my kids. That's just a separate part of my life. If there was one that was ever serious...then maybe. But not until then. Divorce is hard on the kids.:( I went thru it when I was 12 and my dad left for another woman/family and then again when my ex left me for another woman/family. It's like history repeating itself. I also started going out more and drinking more...not a good thing. I have cut back. Divorce is always hard...I'm just TRYING not to make it harder for my kids. It's not always easy though. How old is your brother now?:)

Amanda said...

It is very brave to go back and look at the past when issues like this are concerned. I am lucky not have experienced it first hand, but I know a very similar comment was made to Brad by his mom during a very similar situation. That time is not spoken of in his family either.

I hope that your mother can receive the letter you send with an open mind and respond in a good way - though it's more important for you to get out what you need to. I wish I could reach out and give you a hug, but I guess a digital *hug* will have to do!

Meghan said...

Your story broke my heart as I can't imagine my mother not being there for me or supportive of my weight loss goals/journey. I truly believe that with work most relationships can be healed. Talking/writing things out really help me and I hope your mom understands what you need from her.

You are an awesome and I am learning so much from you and your blog.

Retta said...

It takes so much maturity and courage to face these things openly.

You're right, it's easier to avoid them... yet it's still there, right under the surface. Like an infection in the body, silently sending out toxins that we can't see, yet take their toll on us eventually. So I totally respect you for taking this on!

Jules said...

HUG! BIG HUG! I am right here with you! This journey may seem tough, really tough..but the freedom you need will come as you work through this..