Thursday, August 23, 2012

Paper Cranes

                                                                     Paper Cranes

   I had never trusted myself. Never thought I could take care of me. As much as my parents should have taught me to rely on myself and not on others, I still so badly had wanted to be rescued. To be loved. I had folded myself inward and creased the folds of my own personality to be what others wanted me to be. Creating a kind of origami bird. With stiff wings that could not fly. Beautiful, but useless. I did not resemble myself at all. I had tried to fill that hole in me with others. And when they did not fit that aching void, I tried to redefine myself, my needs to match who they were and what they were willing to give. I bargained myself away. It was okay if they could not give praise, if they did not support me emotionally. I could do without those things. I did not need to be respected. I had done it all, sacrificed me so that I would not be alone. I made so many concessions, so many excuses for others. It never occurred to me that I was worthy of more. It made me sad to realize how I had shorted myself. I had taken my parents place in selling me out. Humans are very resilient and I would trade off almost anything to feel loved. Only, I was not feeling loved. It was like that game of "follow the pea". The one where you have three cups and you tried to guess which cup the pea was under. I would frantically search under each one, each person in my life to find the love in that pea. But, I never got it right. I did not know how to play and there did not seem to be a pea at all. The fix was in and I could not win. I was going to have to find a new game.

  I worked hard and I did well. I was able to support my family on my own. And I liked it. It gave me a sense of purpose. The housing market was good and I had more clients than I knew what to do with. I paid bills up and then got ahead. My Mother would make an appearance now and again. She would call or drop by. Looking for a reception she was never going to get. My children scattered when she arrived. Hiding upstairs or heading out the back door. I envied them their swiftness. I never seemed to get away as easily. There was never really anything to talk about. She would drag out her latest health issue. Now, let me take a moment and explain. My mother has been on the verge of death my entire life. After my father had left her, she started a new game. If you caught her in a lie or if she was in the wrong in any way, she would put her hand over the spot where her heart should have been and hold her breath and then take large gasps of air. Heaving to and fro, sounding like an oversized billows, turning bright red with the effort. Waving her other hand around in the air and sputtering that she was dying. That her heart could not take it. Now, let me say, the first few times she did this we reacted. We were concerned. How could we not be? but after the better part of twenty years, I was tired of her teasing me. She was too damn mean to go anywhere. And I told her so. It was really enough by now. It shocked her into silence, which was a blessing unto itself. This reminds me of THE most embarrassing thing she ever did to me in public. I am going to jump ahead in time to tell this. Because it really belongs right here. It was my son's birthday. I had decided to take the kids and one friend each out to dinner. My Mother called to see what I was going to do for her grandson's birthday, and when I told her the plan, she said she and her husband would meet us there. She said she had always wanted to eat at the restaurant I had chosen, it was expensive. We all met up there and were seated. it was dimly lit with white table clothes and waitstaff in ties. Everyone ordered, my Mother and her husband ordered the most expensive things on the menu and then they want appetizers and mixed drinks too. I thought nothing of it. Dinner arrived and with in minutes John, my mother's husband started to choke. He started slamming his fist one the table....not our table, but the next table over, where a couple had been enjoying a quiet dinner. He pounded up and down scattering utensils and food, my mother started gasping and holding her chest. Sweet lord, I was mortified. Finally he spit out the large piece of steak that had caused all the fuss. Along with his teeth. Right there on those poor people's table, his upper plate sat. I looked at my kids and they looked at me. Everyone's phones were silently buzzing with our text messages back and forth to each other. Texting frantically under the table clothe, each of us trying to figure a way out of this embarrassment. The waitress came over, she wanted to know what she could do. And my mother, in classic form as only she could, still clutching her would be heart and gasping like a fish out of water. Demanded a ginger ale, "NOW NOW" she gasped. The waitress allowed how that would be a great idea and that should help John recover. My mother, never missing a beat, corrected her. The drink was not for her choking husband, but for her. It was all too upsetting for her. The waitress looked dumb struck, but she brought her that ginger ale. This little event did nothing to curb their hunger, on the contrary they ordered desert and coffees too. And then, without even a thank you, they were out the door. Leaving me with a hefty bill and a room full of staring people. That is my mother, in  a nut shell. I no longer go out to eat with her.

   It was no wonder my children would avoid my mother with her special flare and sense of drama. She gossiped about everyone. No one was living their lives as they should. Many had more than they deserved. She also started a new habit. If I severed her tea she complimented the cup, the tea and was that a new pillow on the couch. She would examine everything and proclaim that she would like to have whatever had caught her eye. She would hold this or that up to her eye and look from me to it and then back again. I would tell her where I got it. Letting her know the price and any other details that pertained to whatever item had caught her eye. And then she would say "it must be nice to have such things" it was her way of letting me know she expected me to give it to her. It did not matter what it was, it's cost, great or small. She truly expected to walk out of my house with it. If I ignored her, she would bring it up again and again. Until I gave her whatever she wanted, just to get some peace. I started hiding things. In my own home I hid my own things. To keep them safe. To keep them for myself. I did the same with my feelings. Folding in on myself once again. Closing off who I was. I hid  from her, but wether it was to keep her safe or me I could not say. I just knew my honesty and my anger would level any pretense of relationship left between us.

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