“In a child’s eyes, a mother is a goddess. She can be glorious or terrible, benevolent or filled with wrath, but she commands love either way. I am convinced that this is the greatest power in the universe.”
~ N.K. Jemisin, “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms”
At this point, I would just like to shed a bit of light on my relationship with my mother. Over my life I’ve met a few people with notable mother-child relationships. Some people are lucky enough to have a mutually loving relationship with their mothers, others have mothers who adore them but they cannot love them back and vice versa. I don’t know which of these broad categories my mother and I fit into but I am going to try and pinpoint it in this post – if I can…
My childhood was traumatic. It felt incredibly harsh and almost as if it didn’t exist at all. I still swear that when I was twelve years old I was at my most mature. I am an only child born to parents who were already looking at their prime in the rear-view mirror at the time of my birth.
I am not laying any blame for how I’ve turned out at my parents’ feet, I just feel it is a contributor to the negative as it is to the positive as well and thus, needs to be shown as part of what happens to make a young adult with such a cocktail of mental disorders.
I will start by saying that my relationship with my father is uncommonly strong. We talk almost everyday for about an hour each time and I love my daddy. Even when both of us – since neither of us are the most talkative of folks – run out of things to say, it is one of the most comforting things for me just to know that my father is on the other end of the line just listening to me and spending time with me.
Contrarily, my mother and I do not have a solid or stable relationship at all. When I was in school, I attended counselling to deal with various problems that – I feel – stemmed from how I felt about my mother and how I perceived her feelings for me. I am not going to lie about anything here to make people feel better or to sugarcoat what happened. This is my story and I intend to tell it how it really happened, though, there are two sides to every story, but I’m telling mine.
When I was a child I was hit. There, I’ve said it. I was slapped for things I did wrong, I was hit for making mistakes. It was a time when it was acceptable for parents to smack their children and some of my friends had the same punishment tradition at their homes and a few claim to be glad that their parents struck them as it supposedly made them disciplined, but I do not share in that view. I don’t at all. I think it is the most loathsome and cowardly thing to strike a child and there is no excuse for it whatsoever. It literally makes me weep when articles come up in newspapers and headlines come up on news channels telling the story of some poor innocent child being killed by negligent parents or being beaten to death. I am thus not even capable of thinking about hurting a child and I am quick and harsh to judge people who do.
The fear a child can have of their mother is a horrible thing. I was plagued with night terrors all through my formative years and they’ve only just begun to dissipate now with the help of medication and audiobooks, actually. Some of my earliest memories are of running through my parents’ bungalow from my mother. It is what prompted me to ask for a bunk bed at Christmas and what makes me still need to lock my bedroom door at home in order to get a decent night’s kip. Never underestimate how a ladder can keep you safe when your mother has a back problem!
The annoying and incredibly vexing aspect of the relationship my mother and I share is that it is so changeable and difficult to read. One of my former best friends once told me that every child is genetically predisposed to love and cling to their mother and I suppose that is true. She is a graduate psychologist so I might as well take her word for it. This primal instinct is what keeps me coming back and never being able to truly let go of the aspiration that one of these days, my mother and I will put everything behind us and stop this endless cycle of cruelty that has been fostered for two whole decades…hopefully, while I’m still young!
Some days, my mother is the ideal mother, she is a fantastic cook – honestly, no one can make as nice a proper Indian prawn curry as my mum can. On those days, no one loves her more than me. Sadly, those days are few and far between…most of the time, my mother despises me and resents me and blames me for everything that has gone wrong in her life. When I was born, she was kept in hospital due to a badly done epidural and I was a sick baby so I was a nightmare and a problem then too, but I think that possibly due to that separation so soon postpartum, our relationship was affected permanently.
On the days when my mother is a gorgon sent from Tartarus, it is not even worth stepping foot outside my room just to be called fat and huge and useless and weak. This is the ultimate point of what the relationship with my mother has done to contribute to my condition. It is not the words or the actions themselves, it is how intimidating and memorable those insults and strikes are when you are literally at rock bottom and have to work up to no self-esteem. That is the effect of a poor mother-daughter relationship on a depressed, socially anxious and mythomanic child who didn’t quite manage the transition to young adult as easily as it’s done in “The Sims”.