Rules for the Motherless Daughter: Four

30 Jun

Oh she’s such a mess.

After my mother died, or maybe before that when she was sick, something in my broke, snapped off. There was a me before, and a me after. Never the twain shall meet.

I was already showing the signs of becoming a pain in the ass before my mother died, but my inherent need to please people and avoid conflict usually kept it from becoming a problem.

After my mother died, after spending hours at the hospital not knowing what to say, after watching her vomit and vomit and vomit after chemo, I changed. Where once was a loving, shy naive little girl stood a scared, hollow almost woman. I aged in days.

I became angry. Mean almost. I discovered a talent for minimizing my pain to keep others from hurting. I learned to not talk about my mother so other’s wouldn’t be uncomfortable and weird with me. I learned to accept that people couldn’t handle what happened. One friend stayed by me, held me as I screamed my way to the back of the church. Put up with how I pushed her away, and then grabbed her back.

I searched for answers in all the wrong ways. I stumbled into class in Grade 8, stinking drunk, after making myself and some friends believe that it MUST be a snow day and that it was ok to spend the afternoon drinking all the liquor in Mr.Miller’s basement. I started drinking heavily in Grade Nine, moved on to drugs soon after. Moving to the middle of nowhere in Northern Ontario didn’t help any, even if I am the one who drove my father nuts asking him to get a transfer somewhere.

I’d find myself in increasingly precarious situations. I’d wake up after blacking out, in someone’s house I’d never met, surrounded by people I didn’t know. I remember a few places where I knew I did not want to be alone, didn’t want to be there if my friends left. You recognize that feeling of danger without even being told.

I was angry, and angry and drunk don’t mix well. I’d hurt myself, trying to find something else that hurt, something that could be taken care of, something that wasn’t the hollowness in my chest, something that would distract me from how lonely I was. How desperately alone I was.

There are a few years of my adolescence that blur into one, that are a mess of drugs and drink and fear and pain. I choose to remember them this way. It’s less of a reminder of how bad I once was, and how close I was to that place you don’t return from.

I remember when I had moved out on my own the first time, I had strep throat really badly. I had no one to take care of me, and dragged myself to the ER to be treated. All I could think was “I’m going to die if this keeps up.”

I was sick for days. I dropped out of school again because of it. When the fever finally broke, I told myself I couldn’t keep it up, I had to finish school, I had to get it together.

I moved back with my father that same month.

All along, I was virtually alone with all of this. I had no where to turn, no one to talk about it with. Just me and my thoughts, and my increasing love for all those things you shouldn’t use. But something clicked in me, told me that I had two roads I could follow. And one was death.

But what if I had someone around to help me, to hold me, to let me talk about it, to help me heal? Would I have needed all the lessons I ended up learning all the hard way?

My advice today is this-no matter how fucked up and seemingly tough your daughter is-she isn’t. She needs you. She needs your words, your arms, your shoulder. She needs a father to love her and guide her. My father did what he could, and I’m the person I am today because of my experiences. But I wanted so much more, so much that he was just too broke to provide.

She’s fucked up, yes. She’s a royal mess. But she’s still the little girl you paced the rooms with as a colicky baby. She’s still the little girl who followed you everywhere while you rebuilt the house.

She’s still just your little girl.

2 Responses to “Rules for the Motherless Daughter: Four”

  1. marcy June 30, 2007 at 9:08 pm #

    I depend so much on people being very clear to read… I just don’t trust my hunches enough… what if what I would want if I were X is not what X wants? How can I know without asking? And how can I know whether the answer is honest or not?

    I have this friend whose husband has cancer, and it’s just one thing after another, and it has been like that (one thing after another) for so long with this family. It’s so awful it does make me really uncomfortable, and confused, and uncertain. I know I can’t make it all better for her. And now I’m not even in the same town anymore. I’m not exactly close close close, either. I don’t know whether anything I could think of would be refreshing, insulting, stressful, or what to her.

  2. thordora June 30, 2007 at 10:27 pm #

    I think what worries people about cancer, illness, death, is that they might make it worse.

    You really can’t.

    Being there-offering your support, your thoughts, meals, childcare, so many things. I remember when my mother died wondering about all the food! and as I got older, I realized why people did it-it was something tangible to do that no one could get mad at or offended by.

    And sometimes, there just isn’t anything to do.

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