Blood on My Hands

Mental illness, abuse, suicide. These things are laced throughout my family history.

My mother was sexually abused by many growing up: her brothers, their friends, friends of her parents, and so on. I think that because it started so early on in her life, she might have thought that it was normal or that it was her fault in some way, and she never told anyone. And you can imagine the effect that years of sexual abuse from many individuals can have on someone’s mental health.

My mother met my father and it was instant attraction. My father was recently divorced and my mother was currently engaged to another man, but they hit it off. After a while, my mother threatened my father that she would kill herself if he didn’t marry her soon, and this was how it all started.

Shortly after they married, my mother became pregnant with me. My father was in the military and they lived on base, doing drugs and living it up. They were caught, and my father was dishonorably discharged. After I was born, my mother’s brother committed suicide.

My mother slept through most of my childhood and into my teenage years, suffering from bipolar disorder and depression. During this time, my father was physically and psychologically abusive to myself and my brothers. My mother never intervened. She was like a wilted flower, always lifeless, always frowning, always sleeping, never present.

One day, I came home from school and found her, more lifeless than usual. She had overdosed and was waiting to die. That was the first of many times she has attempted suicide. After this point, she left our family and spent much time in and out of mental institutions. When she wasn’t institutionalized, she bounced from girlfriend to girlfriend’s house. Lovers that she met at bars. She started doing drugs again. At one point, she was raped by a strange man as she laid on the ground in front of some house or apartment, paralyzed from the effects of narcotics. She would come back to live with us periodically, claiming that she’d kill herself if my father didn’t let her stay.

During this time, the abuse with my father continued as I tried to take care of my brothers. My mother returned somewhat permanently toward the end of my stay at that dark place. At that point, I could hardly look at her or speak to her. Knowing her history of sexual abuse and psychological diagnoses, I wanted to have pity on her and to love on her. But at the same time, I felt that those things shouldn’t be acceptable excuses for neglecting your children and allowing abuse to continue.

Years later, much more disappointment and pain has come. My mother continued her maddening indifference as my brothers grew up in that place. I’ve always struggled because I want to express to my mother my feelings regarding her behavior, but feel that she is much too fragile to hear what I would have to say. And I can’t have her blood on my hands.

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24 responses to “Blood on My Hands

  1. I am not trying to feel sorry for you because you are a brave women fighting against all odds. You are here to overcome these difficulties and stand up for your life. I wish you to have better tomorrows.

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    • I appreciate your kind thoughts. And thank you for not feeling sorry for me, as I don’t feel sorry for myself either. I think we all have our trials in life, and this has been my lot thus far. And I have been much more fortunate than other members of my family, so I have a lot to be thankful for. I hope I will have many better tomorrows, but at the same time, I know that the hard times have made me better appreciate the good ones. I know that’s cliche- but so true!

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      • I really appreciate your thoughts and respect your determination. Happy for your good yesterdays and joyful tomorrows. Though I cannot wish you to have problem-free tomorrow , I wish you to have courage and strength to deal your problems of tomorrows and put you in ease. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. This post makes me sad. At least you are alive. Wish I could help in some manner. I send a hug and a smile your way.

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    • Thank you for the hug & smile! Don’t be sad. Life is still good. I think pain and hardship allows for love to show more beautifully. And I hope that by sharing my sometimes sad story, I can show others who have experienced similar struggles that they are not alone. And give hope.

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  3. eroeck09

    I have more than a little knowledge of situations like this – although not to this extreme. Those words that you want to say to your mother – let them out to friends and others that you confide in. You may be right that there is a very real risk in saying those things to her, and even if there’s not the risk in the way that you think there is, you may find that she simply cannot understand. You can never undo the wrongs that she has committed and you have unfairly suffered in a way that no person (let alone child) should. Use her weaknesses to fuel your strength. Try to use the negative experiences that you’ve endured to drive you in being a good girlfriend, wife and mother. Break the cycle.

    Best of luck to you.

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    • Your words are encouraging – thank you. The cycle ends with me, I am certain. My experiences have made me stronger person, but at the same time, I struggle not to lose myself in despair. I feel strong but I also feel weak. It’s a pretty strange place to be.

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      • Thank you for sharing your heart here…I agree with oroeck09 about sharing in other ways. I have my own situation where sharing the truth directly to the person who I need to acknowledge it will not achieve that end. And so the truth needs to be processed and embraced in other ways. It’s really hard. My heart goes out to you to heal deep down.

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      • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lisa. It is a tough spot to be in. I agree with you and eroeck09. Someone suggested that I write down what I would say to her in a letter and then not mail it. I think I might try it. Maybe it would work for you? That way, we can feel like we’ve gotten this thing off of our chest, but there would be no potential consequence that results from it.

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      • Absolutely agree. I have not only done this, but I have also written fiction that draws from that reality. Definitely cathartic. It is amazing what comes from crystallizing your thoughts and feelings about it all…

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  4. Hi there. Firstly, let me say how incredibly brave and strong you are. Your words and your writing pulses with strength; compassionate strength, frustrated strength, brave strength, and every other type of strength there is. I am humbled that you have shared your story. Your triumphs over adversity are amazing & inspiring. Thank you. Regarding your mother and the words you would say but do not. If I can add one possibility in all of the truths that may exist for your mother and what she is going through. She knows the words you would say, she knows the words that anyone would say. She says them to herself, they are her words and that is part of what imprisons her. I hope you can both find peace and love. I am humbled to have discovered your blog.

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    • Reading your comment warmed my heart. Truly. Thank you. And I think you are so right about my mother. “That is part of what imprisons her.” It’s true. There would be no point in my telling her what I want to tell her – it might make me feel better for a hot second, but then I’d feel terrible because it would do no good. She already knows and it imprisons her. Thank you for sharing your insight.

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  5. A strong post. Thank you for writing this.

    Sometimes I think we DO need to say those things to people for our own sake. Not because it’ll change anything but because we’ve earned the right to and keeping quiet is one more way for somebody else to control us. I don’t think our words make other people *do* anything (even when they may claim otherwise). But I understand your reluctance and can relate to how you feel protective of her; a role reversal.

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    • Yes, I do agree with these statements. I go back and forth on this so much. And I know that ultimately, my words don’t force anyone to do anything. That’s very true. But still, I hesitate to express my feelings. A constant battle – my mind vs. my heart. I really appreciate your feedback. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

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  6. I hope you get the help you need to make it through your darkness. Depression sucks. Abuse sucks. Cyber hugs to you!

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    • Yes, those things do suck. Life truly is a roller coaster. I’m thankful for the strength God has given me to overcome the darker days. And I pray for lighter days ahead. Thanks for your support.

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  7. Thank you for checking out my blog and becoming a follower. I am trying to be disciplined with my writing and would like to be successful.
    I have read two of your posts and you write clearly and succinctly. You have dealt with so much, and seen too much in your life. I started this blog as an attempt to be creative and see if I can write. How do you see your writing and why do you write?
    I have a close family member who deals with depression, I am there for that person and it amazes me continually that depression is so prevalent and yet hidden. There is no shame with mental illness more than dandruff, I wish people would open their eyes up and see the struggling person behind the illness.

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    • Great questions! Success, to me, is simply sharing my story and giving hope to those who have or currently are experiencing similar hardships. I see each post as a tiny piece of a much bigger and ongoing story of my life. And I write to inspire hope. Not all of my posts have an immediate happy ending because that’s not the nature of this life. But I feel that the overall theme of my story is a positive one, and I hope that will resonate with readers. I also write specifically about mental illness and how it affects my family, because I hope to lessen the stigma.surrounding it so that people like my brother or my mother can more easily obtain the help and support they need. I wish you the best of luck with your writing – I’ll be watching!

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  8. I just want you to know that after reading this insightful post, I am very appreciative of your comment on my first blog…you could easily have some prejudices against people with mental illness; however, you decided to take the more understanding and empathetic route…for this, I applaud your bravery. I look forward to reading more of your posts!
    LaVancia

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

  10. Wow! God bless you, you are obviously the diamond in that rough!

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