My grandmother abused me. Beat me, terrorized me, emotionally manipulated and destroyed me. But in her own, damaged, limited way she loves me. To the best extent that she is capable of loving, she loves me. She may only love me enough to pour salt in my wounds, but she loved me that much. I have never questioned if my grandmother the killer loves me. She does.
I don’t know about my mom. I don’t if she does. I do think my mom is capable of love. I don’t think she’s as broken as grandma, or that she’s made as many consciously evil choices, or killed anyone for that matter. But I also don’t think she loves me and I never have. I spent my entire life feeling guilty for not being receptive to my mother’s love, but maybe it’s really not there or maybe it’s her job to express it so well I can’t help but get the message. As it is, if I don’t call her we don’t talk.
When I was 9, Mom was done with school, so she started to have a social life. She joined a pool cue league with another single mom, who’d drop off her daughter so they could share a sitter and save cash. My sister and I got home from school before Mom got home from work and had afterschool chores to do while watching Saved By The Bell reruns. Mom joined a singles trophies at a church.
We moved back to Florida when I was 12 and I immediately found a 15 year old bad girl to fall in with. I started smoking cigarettes. Mom didn’t tell me not to. I’d had an eating disorder for a year by then. According to my mother by the age of twelve I’d had two genuinbgenuinbe illnesses, one flu and one case of chicken pox, and every other headache, stomach ache, cold, flu, etc was “faking it”. No one in the world was less trustworthy than me.
A couple years later my mom had arrived. She bought a middle class older house in a middle class older neighborhood where other college professors lived, to go with her college professor job. She was no longer a renter, no longer poor. In her head she was no longer a lot of things, like “legally responsible for clothing and feeding minor children” which became far less interesting at that point. She switched to a vegetarian diet and stopped buying food I could eat. She didn’t notice I wasn’t eating at all.