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It was a gradual change.

I noticed more arguing, less love. I noticed my mother seemed different; she got angry about the weirdest things, and then all of a sudden, she would cuddle up next to my dad. During those moments, I remember sitting next to her on the arm of the couch, sharing a bag of popcorn as we watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. My mom had always been good at the puzzles on Wheel of Fortune; it only took her about three turns of the wheel before she had enough letters to figure out the answer. My dad would come in during Jeopardy, which he had always been a marvel at.

Perhaps that is one of my strongest memories of my mother when she still lived with us, because it was a picture of what we were: a happy mother and daughter. Although there were moments when we did not get along -- most particularly when she tried to convince me that reading Harry Potter was a sin because it contained witchcraft -- we were, at the heart, typical. I remember vividly watching figure skating and gymnastics with her when I was young. I also remember watching her work out to Denise Austin in the mornings before I went to school. I remember going shopping for my first bra, and how she seemed so excited to take me.

And then it all imploded.

It had been coming for a while, through small changes that would have been unnoticeable to all but our closest friends, but it hit the whole family hard when it finally did happen. One minute, I was in bed, watching TV, and then the next, I heard an argument break out downstairs. I thought it was nothing -- arguments were getting more common lately -- but then I woke up the next morning and she wasn't there. Things snowballed, faster and faster, and then suddenly my mother was living with my maternal grandmother or my aunt and uncle, and the word "divorce" came up with ever increasing prevalence.

Within six months, right after I went to junior high, my mother and father had divorced. We (my father and I) moved into my grandmother's house, where we still live today, albeit with my brother. My mother lived with family members for a while, and then she was placed in a home. It was primarily for her schizophrenia, I found out later when I could finally understand the situation.

It's hard being around her even now, because the little child in me can't help blaming her for breaking up our family. The adult in me knows that it's not her fault -- it could never be her fault -- but I can't help the awkward feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I see her.

Sometimes she makes me want to run. Run as far away as I can, so I don't have to remember the happiness I had felt in my childhood knowing that my family was always going to be together. I want to run during every family function, because she seems so young now. She acts like a teenager, squealing about Daniel Radcliffe and Harry Potter like she never considered the series a sin. It is hard being around her, to remember the way our family had been and think about how it is now. It is hard being around her knowing how her illness is affecting her life, and by proxy, my own.

Yet I don't run, because she is my mother.

Instead, I run away from the feelings she inspired in me when she got a divorce from my father. I run toward the possibility of success, both in school and in my writing. I run toward my goals, toward everything that I strive so hard to be. I might walk toward rebuilding that relationship with my mother, but I run headlong into the possibility of understanding her, of knowing that it's not her fault what happened to my family.

The relationship will come, even though it is a slow one. I don't understand her yet, and my relationship with my father is much stronger than my relationship with my mother. My sister managed to build a relationship with my mother, so I suppose it is only a matter of time before I am old enough, mature enough, and ready to help her in any way I can.

I just have to wait for the strength -- and when it comes, I will be ready to run, not walk, toward that relationship that I used to have with my mother, and the relationship I want so badly to get back.

--

This was my entry for Week 11 of [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. I hope you enjoyed it.
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