Mom’s Lessons in Love No. 1: self-love is never as important as the ‘love’ of a man

My brain is going 90 miles per hour, speeding by childhood memories. Abuse–so much violence that the screaming still makes my ears ring. Why couldn’t my mother just love herself? Why did she constantly seek the comfort of men? Weren’t we enough?

I am scared I don’t love myself.

Three girls, three different fathers. Each man she claims “wasn’t shit” especially not my “fathead daddy”. She can’t wait until we get out of her house so her life can finally begin. After all, she sacrificed her youth for us–we should be thankful.

I ruined her life. Why did I have to exist and make hers so much harder?

The first man after my father was well…not “after” him it was very much “during” as she was having an affair while still married to my father. When my parents broke up, we moved to a duplex and “Larry” came over to put up our blinds. Even at 5, I knew this made no sense. Who hires someone to put up your blinds? “Hush, little girl and don’t mind grown folks’ business.”

I am a nosy pest intent on ruining her chance of happiness.

Her relationship with “Larry” progresses quickly. So quickly that his mail starts to collect in our duplex’s tiny mailbox. But “Larry” isn’t “Larry”. He is really Theo. Who the hell is Theo and why did she lie?

This man isn’t the tooth fairy nor is he any other mythical figure. I can’t believe what she says.

Unbeknownst to my sister and I, my mother sends us to the same Christian school that Theo’s children attend. We meet and see them occasionally on the weekends at their father’s place. A little girl in my second grade class is one of Theo’s family friends. One day she asks me how I know them. I lie and say that they are my cousins because I am worried that people will judge my unmarried mother .

I’ve learned that lies can protect you from the outside world. I must remain humble to avoid everyone’s judgment.

I soon find out why my little friend was so inquisitive. One evening my sister and I are asleep on Theo’s couch when we hear the front door open and screaming. His wife walked in and my mom and Theo stumble out of the bedroom wrapped in only a sheet. Cursing and yelling ensue as my mom roughly grabs and throws us  in the car. She drops us off at our duplex and rides back to his house to finish what she has started. The little girl in my class tells me she knows the truth about my mom. She never speaks to me again.

I am so disgusted with my mother that I question the purpose of relationships if no one cherishes them. I am scared I will become her.

Another man named Tyrone comes along. Mom says she really wants us to meet him. Me and my sister go to his house and he tries to impress us with PlayStation games and jelly beans, whatever flavor we like. I refuse them. I don’t like candy and I most certainly don’t like him.

I am skeptical of any “nice” gesture.

Mom mentions him several weeks later. She asks my sisters and I what we think of him and how we would feel if they got married. Of course, we are upset by the question and ask why she can’t be single for awhile. We learn that they got married anyway so…too bad.

My opinions don’t matter. No one cares so I need to keep it to myself, even if someone asks.

Tyrone wants us to be a real family so we have to go to church together, eat together, hell– visit his family members together. As usual, it doesn’t last long before they are fighting. He is a non-medicated bipolar, alcoholic truck driver who never has patience for anything or anyone. Countless times the police are called for domestic disturbances. You know, little stuff like trying to drop a 60 pound weight on my mom’s throat while she lay, restrained across his lap. My seven year old screams were met with claims that I was dramatic and they were only “playing”. Sure, says the tears streaming  down my mother’s cheeks and her desperate pleas to let her go. Sometimes my dad asks me questions about my home life. One day I notice a red light in the couch but it is too late. He plays the tapes in family court. My mom comes home and hits me. She tells me to never tell anyone what happens in our house. And anyways, he doesn’t really care about me. He just doesn’t want to pay child support.

I never forget what people have done to me or how they make me feel.


8 thoughts on “Mom’s Lessons in Love No. 1: self-love is never as important as the ‘love’ of a man

  1. Thanks, Shannon! It’s been so therapeutic for me. I completely understand what you mean about “voice” issues. Before I posted it, I toggled back and forth between which tense would be most appropriate but then I realized I would have to mix them because although the pain is still very raw, I realize that my life has in many ways moved forward. I haven’t been able to sleep well lately so I stay up and write at night. There are additional parts on the way. As for italics, I love that idea! I always enjoy reading what you post.


  2. I really like this post! I find that when trying to remember pain from my childhood, I almost revert back to that way of thinking and feeling. I am still struggling trying to get that “voice” to make sense when I am writing and have taken the lazy way out with italics. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great post.

    I’ve recently started a blog called The Strongest Ones, that is a platform for healing, where people from all walks of life are free to share their stories of abuse, be it from someone else or self inflicted. Have a look and if you or anyone you know cares to share their story, get in touch with me. Love and light.


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