Yesterday I teased that I would tell you the epic tale of my personal worst Christmas ever. I believe I suggested that I was crying in the rain, filled with the knowledge that nobody loved me after having ruined Christmas for everyone. That’s not entirely accurate. In actuality, I was filled with rage, crying out of frustration and walking home from Denny’s when it started to rain on me.
I moved out of my Mom’s house in April of 2003, it was rocky, but we were still trying to maintain some semblance of a relationship even though she was totally insane and abusive, which is why I moved out in the first place. From where I am now, I don’t know why I thought that continuing to talk to her would be in any way a good idea for either of us. Although, I write this as someone who is actually sort of talking to again, this time after 5 years of silence. And I know we’re completely off topic, but after all the years of experience I have with her completely losing her shit on me and knowing that she hasn’t changed and wont ever change, I have no idea what this new situation will even be like, or what’s going to come of it. I’m going to say pain.
But anyway, I stupidly thought that it would be OK to hang out with my mom and my grandma Christmas morning at my ex/re/ex step-dad’s house (at this time, he was just my ex/re step-dad, which is why my mom was living with him again). Not being a complete moron, I had arranged to be somewhere else at a fixed time right after I was done hanging out with my fam. Usually, this is a good trick to use on difficult people so that you don’t end up staying longer than you planned, and so that you have an excuse when they try to get you to change your plans without warning. In this case, it only accelerated the inevitable. So at least the shittiest part of my day was over early.
In addition to agreeing to this experiment in hateful family holiday time, I also didn’t have my own transportation for the day, and was relying on my mother to pick me up and take me back to my house. Which is a terrible idea. When dealing with crazies, always have your own transportation, or do not go. Christmas morning, my mother was two hours late picking me up. As soon as I got in the car, she tried to get me to cancel my afternoon plans in order to spend more time with the family and I refused. She didn’t let it go the rest of the morning. Any semblance of holiday togetherness was completely fucked because she was either explaining how it wasn’t her fault she was late (it was grandma’s), wondering aloud what kind of asshole doesn’t even want to spend time with their own family on Christmas (this kind), or trying repeatedly to get me to cancel or postpone my afternoon plans, which I repeatedly refused to do. Surprisingly, I stayed calm the entire time, even when she kept pacing back and forth across the house into her room to scream and cry, then back into the living room to launch another round of ‘it’s not my fault; you’re an asshole; spend time with me!’ I tried pointing out that she was wasting time by having a tantrum, and that Grandma, Step-dad and I were enjoying Christmas while she was in her room alone. That information wasn’t processed very well, and her bitching escalated.
Before too long, she was in my face, shoving me and calling me lots of names, some of them totally true (fat selfish bitch, uncaring cunt, only interested in money and how the situation can help me, etc.) Which used to really bother me, but by that time, I’d done enough work to realize it was all mind games. None of those qualities, however true, were relevant to why I wasn’t interested in spending more time with her on Christmas. In fact the main reason I wasn’t willing to hang out with her was because of the very abusive and shitty behavior she was displaying by calling me names and shoving me around when she didn’t get her way. This is the point that a well prepared person would be about 20 minutes down the freeway, having left at the first sign of trouble. Unfortunately, I was getting spit-shouted at by my ride home. I still managed to remain calm, respond minimally, sometimes only to say “It’s true, I can be quite shitty but I’m working at it. You, however are shoving me and yelling at me and I need for you to stop.” Which, given the stimulus is a response I don’t think I could replicate in a thousand crazy Christmases. I don’t know how I got that cool. I wasn’t even smoking cigarettes at this point in my life.
The breaking point for me came when she angrily picked up my Christmas gift to her, ripped it open, threw it on the floor and shouted “YOU GOT ME USED BOOKS FOR CHRISTMAS? YOU FUCKING GAVE ME TRASH!” Which is especially awesome since she had requested her gift be the novels I’d read from my first semester at college, so she could read what I’d read and “feel closer to [me].” So, rather than turn the books back in for whatever small profit I could have made on them, I stuck them all in a large box (English majors read lots of books) and wrapped it for her for Christmas. I’m pretty sure she’s the only person I got anything for, because everybody else in my life was compassionate enough to realize that a person who steals 1 meal a day from the cafeteria isn’t going to have a lot of disposable cash around for Christmas gifts. That’s when I got up and started to head towards the door, determined to walk the 8 miles back to my own house rather than stay in her presence another terrible second.
As I opened the door, she picked my present back up and started shoving me outside, using the box as a sort of battering ram, screaming that she didn’t want my shitty gifts, that I could take my trash and keep it for myself since that’s all I wanted anyway, and more importantly that I wouldn’t be getting the amazing present she got me because trash for awesome is a shitty exchange and she’s not a fool.
Quick aside: this is actually a family theme. Things normal parents do for their children out of love, or even obligation parents in my family do on loan, with interest. Braces, glasses, even regular inoculations are meticulously recorded in the ledger of family accounts. Every toy, every dance class, every cent of monetary expenditure is an investment, not in happiness, not in health, but in high yield guilt and cash rewards. You want to know why my grandmother loves me? It’s because I pay for her every time we go anywhere. And I pay for her because she didn’t let me die in infancy. I owe her. To date, I am the only one of her children who has made any return on investment (in her mind the fact that my mother and uncle would do anything for her is not relevant since they aren’t high earners.) If you ever wonder why I am so obsessed with money and status, know that it could be so much more shitty.
Back to the worst Christmas ever. Using my own gift as a human cow catcher, my mother succeeded in pushing me out the front door, down the front steps, and onto the lawn of my step father’s house. This is a house I had lived in on-and-off since I was 10. This is the only neighborhood in the world where I could conceivably be embarrassed by the thought of my neighbors seeing something terrible like my mother trying to beat me with my own present on the front lawn like a bitch. Standing in the middle of that lawn, feeling all the windows of the houses of children I grew up with staring directly at me, and at her, I finally snapped. One of us threw the box on the floor, I have no idea what happened to it after that. I shoved her, called her crazy, told her not to touch me or I’d kill her, said she was a bitch, that she ruined my life, that she was a terrible mother and that I should never have trusted her to be normal for even a second and I called her a psychopath. She told her to get off her property and I (stupidly) reminded her that she was my ride home.
What followed was the most horrible, dangerous, gut-churning car ride of my life, and I have been driven down the freeway by my screaming mother on more occasions than I can count. I alternated between shouting at her and apologizing to my grandmother for making a scene. Oh I forgot to mention, my grandma got in the car with us for some totally insane reason. I think at first it was to make sure we didn’t kill each other, but she regretted her decision pretty much immediately because she was holding onto my hand so hard my fingers lost feeling in them.
After what felt like the most interminable 8 miles of my life, we arrived at my house. I jumped out of the car almost while it was still moving, shouted at my grandmother that I love her, at my mother that she’s a crazy bitch and immediately broke down crying as soon as the van was out of visual range. I can’t remember if I even went inside the house, but I couldn’t stay still and I decided to walk a mile to Denny’s to buy a pie for Kate’s family (who I lived with) to thank them for not being crazy or violent or mean. On the walk back it started raining. I don’t even think we ate that pie. Also, the pie incident might have been on Thanksgiving. I don’t really remember, but I said there was rain yesterday, so I wanted to give it to you.
Here’s a picture of me looking pretty boob-tacular as a reward for you if you got through that whole thing. It’s kind of one of the defining moments of my young-adulthood, and I never wrote it down before.
UPDATE: Out of curiosity, I went and dug out my journal from that time to see if I wrote anything in it (there’s nothing on the blog, I already checked). It’s basically accurate to my memory, except I forgot that I was on the phone with a friend as the situation escalated, which is probably one of the reasons I was able to stay so calm for so long. I had moral support. Also, the thing that set me off wasn’t her pushing me onto the lawn, it was her chasing me around, then hitting me after she caught me, and I wasn’t going to go down like that. The best part of this journal entry is the last sentence. After doing a run down of what my part was in the argument (very mature of me, if I do say so myself), I actually wrote “All in all, in the end it was an allright [sic] Christmas.”
The thing I’m “pleased with myself” about is waiting until the last possible second to smack her in her violent, psycho head. Or at least to try, I don’t think I ever connected. She’s really fast.
On the one hand, my childish optimism in the face of what would come to be the worst Christmas of my LIFE is inspiring at a time when I think my biggest problem is that new tires are expensive. On the other hand, wow were my standards low.
Don’t let people like my mother continue to have any excuse for breeding. Please, donate to Planned Parenthood and give the gift of never having to get smacked like a bitch on your front lawn on Christmas to as many grasping souls as you possibly can.
Me: Is that offensive?
Ben: [not looking] Yes.
Me: Come on, read it.
Ben: Maybe. You’re basically implying that you would have been better off as an aborted fetus.
Me: What if I would have been? We don’t know.
Ben: Well, you wouldn’t get to fuck me.
Me: True. OK, it was worth it.
So don’t donate after all?
Actually, do whatever you want.
This post needs to be over. I’m still sick as hell and I’ve been writing this motherfucker for, like, 20 years. I only have myself to blame.