Monday, August 13, 2012

A Snake is Always A Snake

                                            A Snake is Always a Snake

    I must back track, to go forward properly. I find that is the case many times in life. I forgot, or rather brushed over something too important to leave out.... This event happened while we were sitting, all five us girls in the ADA's office. It was the night of our arrival, after we found out that there had been a mistrial. Before we headed out to the motel and a night filled with promises and poster boards, stapled to telephone poles all along the road that led to my father's house.

  My mother had been quiet. After my grandparents called I heard nothing from her. My oldest sister had refused to have anything to do with counseling or my father's trial. She and my mother were very close and she would hear nothing about any of it. She and I had never had much of a relationship. I think we were disappointed in each other. She, by the mere fact that I existed and me that she had no place in her heart for me. I did not know her then any more than I do now. I can't say I missed her much when our family was divided. She was a hard disciplinarian. I think she was at her limit. She had had to deal with my father's attention and her mother kept producing more children and leaving her to raise them. So it was, that my other sister, the one closest to my age had found ourselves there,  in a room full of strangers with a shared goal. To put an end to the sickness that had run unchecked too long. To make sure no more came after us. Let this be enough. Surely, six childhoods stolen was enough.   I should have known my mother was not done. She was never done.  We had just gotten through the who was who and what was what of meeting our new extended family, when the phone rang. We thought nothing of it. However, the ADA's quick reaction after answering it caught our attention. He took his feet off his desk, opened a drawer on his left and flipped a recorder on. And then he put the call on speaker. I heard her, we all did. She had reached across half the country, to where I sat in a tiny Texas town to torment me. It was my mother. My sister and I looked at each other. I think we were all holding our breath. She said I had always been trouble. That I had dropped out of school, I wanted slap the lies right out of her mouth. She went on and on. She said it was all lies. Everything I said was a lie. My father was a good man. He had done nothing. I had made it all up. Can I use humiliation too many times? This was my mother. The ADA was looking at me and I was looking at the tape player. She never mentioned my sister. Her venom was only for me. If she had been able to break my heart any further, she did right then. What do you do at such a time? He knew she was crazy, the ADA. As did my sisters. But it still brought me to my knees emotionally. She would leave me nothing. She was hell bent on slithering into my life and stripping any moment not tainted by her presence. I could not then, nor can I now, explain my mother's drive to be in my life. To have control and wield her destruction on all that I have and love. My family had always said I was his favorite. As if being the favorite child of my father's was a blessing. Maybe I got hit less, could I have been loved more by him than them? I can not fathom my father loving anything or anyone. Least of all one of us. But, I was better able to navigate the shallow waters where his temper raged than the others. It was simple, follow the rules. Don't think what it is you want, or how you feel, simply do what is expected. It is true you would get hit anyway, the cost that came with having an abusive parent. Just like it says, the blows rein down on the just and the unjust...maybe I have that wrong, but it fits. Could it be, his leaving after I threatened him? Could that be the reason she did the things she did? Was it some need for revenge? It was always be the same, I did not know the why. I just tried to minimize the damage she reeked. I felt like I should apologize for her after that call.  As if, somehow it was my fault, first my father, and now my mother too? I was the only one with the dubious distinction of calling them both my parents and it grieved me greatly.

  I ignored her for years after that. I did call when I got home from Texas, that first time and confronted her. She said it didn't happen, that the ADA was lying. I explained I was in the room, she called me a liar. I said he had recorded her and then she tilted her hand. She railed that that was illegal. He had no right. She, who in one fell swoop had taken herself from trespasser to victim. Her hatred of me left me shaken. I cut her out. My counselor advised it. My children had never had a relationship with her, so it wasn't hard on them. We moved, changed the house phone number. Got one unlisted. And I looked to rebuild my life without her. She, never to be out done, called my husband's job. What she said, I have no idea. How she managed to wheedle the information out of the receptionist.  I had left that base uncovered.  I just stepped out into the yard to water freshly planted grass and there she was. I don't have any idea how long she had been sitting in her car, parked at the curb. I don't know what drove her to prove I could not be rid of her. I told her to leave. She was not welcome. There was yelling. My mother was always down for a bit of raised voices and inappropriate rages. Finally, I closed the door in her face. She banged at the door and rang the door bell. I put the kids in the car and I opened the garage door and I left.  She was standing on my porch as I drove away. By the time she heard the door go up, it was too late. I was gone before it hit back down again. My husband called her. Told her to stay away and she did for a while.  But something seemed to draw her back. Maybe I was the closet thing she had to him. That man who was worth sacrificing her children for, or maybe it was something even she could not name. She would talk to him once more, years later. After his prison time, when they had both been married to other people for over two decades. She hunted him down as she always had me, and she called him. She told me about it. She was sick, she was always sick and I came as she knew I would, and helped with her bandages and straightening the house and she told me. She got tearful retelling it. I don't know what she thought he would say, what fantasy she had imaged in her mind of renewed love. But whatever she had wanted, she had not gotten. He told her she was fat and ugly on top of it. He had been cruel and mean and he hung up on her. She looked very sad crying over that bit of venom spewed at her. It was as if she never knew the man at all. A snake is always a snake and you cannot be surprised when it bites you.   I would do best to remember that myself.


  1. This reminds me so much of my own mother.

  2. I get that a lot, sadly. We don't get to pick our parents, but we get to decide who we will be and how we will let them affect us.