Engaged Against Her Will

My mom once called me in the middle of the night from a bar. She was pretty wasted and it was my 16th birthday. She said that she found me a man at the bar, showed him my picture, and he liked what he saw. He wanted to wish me a happy birthday. Oh, and he also wanted to see if I’d be interested in hooking up. I was 16. This man sounded like he was over 30. But my mom assured me that he was hot and she would give him my number. I was disgusted and sad. She also passed the phone to her girlfriend that she had left us for so she could wish me a happy birthday as well. Memories.

I met up with my mother for coffee the other day. I had recently been thinking a lot about trauma and how traumatic events shape different people in different ways. I knew that she had an unfortunate childhood, but I didn’t know many details. So when we met for coffee I asked about it. The nonchalant way she proceeded to describe horrifying details about years of sexual abuse by many different people surprised me. It was surprising to me because I feel that what happened to her as a child was absolutely devastating, and I feel like that devastation had a profoundly negative effect on the rest of her life. Because she never got the help that she needed, it adversely affected decisions she made as an adult and her role as a mother. For this reason, I bounce back and forth between feeling anger towards her for the poor choices she continues to make, causing more harm to my younger siblings and herself, and making excuses for her behavior.

Toward the end of the conversation, she surprises me with a “Well okay, you’re coming with me next door to meet my fiancé.” What? Your divorce from my father was just finalized last week – you sure you don’t want to give it a little time? Nah. My mom told me that her fiancé, I’ll call her Rita, had asked her a week before Valentine’s Day what she would say in response to a V-Day proposal. My mom responded that she wasn’t ready for anything like that. But Rita is persistent. Come V-Day, she popped the question. With much hesitation, my mom said “Umm… okay…” Let me also tell you that Rita is dying of cancer. She could pass any day. (My mom is currently doing radiation for her cancer.) My mom said she “doesn’t see anything long-term with Rita”… so she agreed to marry her, but refuses to set a date…

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17 responses to “Engaged Against Her Will

  1. Feels odd to “Like” horrifying tales. Obviously your mother was too damaged to give you the parenting you and your siblings need(ed). She did, though, provide you with a better life than she had lived. Doesn’t sound like much, but it is a relative improvement.

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    • You’re so right about that. “Relative improvement.” It’s like with the homeless families that I serve, moving from living in a car or an abandoned building to sleeping on the floor of a stranger’s house that they met at a bus stop is a significant improvement in the eyes of that family.

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      • Interesting that you go to your work experience for perspective. I found working with severely emotionally disturbed adolescents and highly dysfunctional families helpful in that if I could have empathy for them then I could start having some empathy and forgiveness in my own life. It took a lot of work, years of therapy, but I have achieved a level of healing, some serenity, and less anger.

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      • I’m glad you’ve experienced healing! That’s a difficult place to reach – it takes a lot of strength and insight.

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  2. I like this post, partially because I’ve never been through any trauma I know of or that my parents told me about, or atleast not to the existent of this story, and the thing that I guess was wrong or that lead to me “adopting” a disturbed pointed and lead to an existential of my own, is that I realised that if I failed in anything in anyway, which I’m 19 now and haven’t failed a single grade or test or hadn’t experienced any significant/”traumatic” events I could only blame myself. I went into a psychiatric clinic during the two weeks of my 18th, and honestly I the route that got me to where I am now and who I am now, and event if I could travel in time I wouldn’t change a single thing. The simplest way I can say this is that our lives are partially dertiministic based on I our history that we cannot change and there is also our own power and responsibility in the form of free will, in that we are who are and who we are not based on our choices and our history. I vaguely understand the responses Your mother gives and the choices she made, I guess there’s a certain dissociation/defensive/offensive system that is acquired after/during trauma/experiences to navigate whatever comes but those without the manure/dirt may be missing out on something of greater value , for me personally one may need to find beauty in ruins/destruction as that ,for me, often precedes creation.

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    • I love that you say you wouldn’t change a single thing. Because it’s so beautiful, in a way, how our experiences (good and bad) shape us and where our decisions take us in life. I wonder sometimes what kind of person I would be and what I’d be doing now if I had had a more “normal”, stable upbringing. And I think things would be so much different. It’s amazing to think how moments can impact a lifetime. Thank you so much for sharing your insight.

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  3. Hugs and prayers! My mother was sexually abused and her mother before her. Thank God the chain is broken. I hope you find peace.

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  4. Thank you for following me at faithsighandidy. I’m sorry for what you are going through. God bless and have a good day.

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  5. Thank you for your candidness in sharing something so difficult to live through, let alone write about. I admire your strength.

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  6. I am going to like every single thing I read on your blog I know it. You said something about being caught between pity and anger with your mother. I imagine your readers – like mine, few that there are, will feel caught between pity and amusement. Your wit against a crappy situation is great.

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  7. Pingback: Best [Blank] in the World | lulufille

  8. Another perspective — I suffered from hideous childhood abuse of every sort as well. Made a lot of bad decisions as a result, especially as a young 20 something mother. But I got myself in useful, helpful therapy by the time my oldest daughter was nine — she is now pushing 40. All told, I have worked hard in almost a decade of psychotherapy to unearth a few essential missing pieces of my personal puzzle — and am now happy and peaceful for the first time in my life. But all three of my 30 something children are having a very hard time seeing me as anything except a total mess, 24/7 — probably because that is all I ever thought of myself (and therefore acted) around them until quite recently. Change is hard. And not just on the person who is changing.

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    • Thank you so much for sharing this piece of your story. I’m so glad that you have found peace and happiness. I wish the same for my mother. Therapy can be so helpful – it was for me. I’m sorry that you’re experiencing that disconnect with your children, and I hope they are able to recognize the change and reconnect with you soon. Best wishes to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your perspective with me – I do hope you continue to do so. 🙂

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