Friend Lisa shared this really well written article by a Ellen Burns, who isn’t inviting her mother to her wedding because they’re estranged, and she explained, perhaps better than I can the conflicted feelings a person can have over their estranged mother. Although there is a weird bit about how she’s going to make sure everybody knows her dad’s girlfriend isn’t her mom, which seems like a stressful and time consuming project, but whatever.
You guys probably know this if you’ve read the blog before, but I’m also estranged from my mom, and she is also not invited to my wedding.
It took me a really long time to come to terms with the fact that my childhood was abusive. When I was growing up, I vacillated between rationalizing that abused people on TV always ended up in the hospital, and nobody ever took me to the hospital so I was fine, and thinking that I didn’t cry every time somebody hit me like those pussies on TV. I read books about domestic violence, I saw billboards about it, but as far as I was concerned, those were all for somebody else.
I did move out of my house when I was still in high school but it wasn’t because I suddenly realized my mom was abusive. A friend told me she was abusive and it seemed like she was probably thinking more rationally than I was, so I listened to her. I knew that I had stopped fighting back months before, I knew that I had done everything I could to avoid the outbursts, I knew that if it went on much longer, either my mother or I would be dead by my hand and I knew I probably had a far better chance of ending my own suffering than I did hers. But I still didn’t think it was abuse.
Before I lived with my mother, I lived with my grandparents, and when my grandfather would punch me, he’d do it once or twice, always in the head, always above my hairline where no one could see any marks. I never thought that was abusive because he had the restraint to rabbit punch a little girl only one or two times.
When my mother would attack me, it was mostly psychological. She would keep me awake all night, or wake me up by dragging me out of bed and across the floor while screaming. She would block the door with her body and call me worthless, accuse me of ridiculous crimes like drug running or prostitution (where I was supposed to have the time or energy even to suck a free dick with the shit she did, I’ll never know). But she never punched me in the head, so it wasn’t abuse. She just threw things at me and shoved me and drove extremely recklessly at very high speeds when I pissed her off in the car, or she would trick me to get in the car thinking everything was fine just so she could get on the freeway and scream for 40 straight minutes while dodging in and out of traffic like a cheap Mexican Transporter.
One year at Christmas, she tried to fist fight me on the front lawn of her house, then drove me home like she was trying to kill us. A couple of years later at Easter, she tried to punch/kick out the windows on Ben’s car. Easter happened because I didn’t remember the lesson I learned at Christmas, which is that the only way to completely ensure my mother doesn’t go on a rampage is to stay the fuck away from her.
Despite her absence, or maybe because of it, the wedding will be far from motherless. The real mothers in my life are invited. Ben’s amazing mother, and the extremely close pack of awesome mothers she runs with are invited. My wonderful and supportive friend Carrie, Kate’s mom Lois who took me in when I moved out of my mom’s house, both of my grandmas, and Ben’s grandma are invited in addition to the aunts, friends, and others who happen to be mothers, if not mothers to us. We will have a surfeit of mothers at this wedding.
The woman who terrorized and abused me for years, who has done absolutely nothing to inspire me to believe in even one of the multiple transformations she’s sworn she’s gone through is not invited.
I’m having a lot of feelings about that. It’s sad on a level I can not describe accurately. There is a ragged, endless hole in me that will never heal. Should never heal. As many loving, supportive mothers as I have in my life, there’s only one person in this universe who could make that better and she never will because she doesn’t have the capacity.
I knew exactly what Ellen Burns meant when she said that her mother could be warm and charismatic. As terroristic and horrible as my mom can be, she can be equally engaging and uplifting. Before I learned about manic states, I described her like a spiritual experience. People in mania can make you feel like you’re flying. It’s so exhilarating and everything is beautiful and new and you’re perfect and they’re perfect and the love you feel for them and them for you is just radiating back at you from everything everywhere you go. But that’s just a precursor to the screaming and not sleeping and all the words that were used to nurture you and embrace you get turned around to cut you until you’re just this dead little meat-wad on a cosmic yo-yo of pain.
Which is why she’s not coming to the wedding. And it’s why, as much as it hurts, I don’t feel any guilt or uncertainty about it. No one can shame me about this, and I don’t recommend they try.
Because it’s my wedding and abusers aren’t invited.