To My Mother

I had the most tumultuous relationship with my mother and I never quite understood the dynamics that bound us. Yes, she did give birth to me and I was her first child. I was conceived while she was in high school while she was 17. I am sure unplanned, but certainly not unwanted. She marred my father the following winter and I was born in the spring. Subsequently she didn’t finish school and I suspect I was always to blame. My mother and father never talked about their meeting and how they eventually got together and I always had a feeling that my conception some how forced them together. I know they did love each other and remained married until she passed away 6 years ago.

My mother had grown up in a dysfunctional world. Her mother had a lot of emotional and mental problems, drank a lot, ended up in and out of mental hospitals, and had sexual addiction issues. My mother told me stories of how her mother always had lots of different men and how my mother was abandoned for long periods of time to go off on her binge drinking. She also told me stories about how her mother had tried to kill them several times when she would sink into deep depressions. This I believed created a lot of insecurities for my mother and she lived the rest of her life, even with us, in fear of rejections and being abandoned. She clung so tight to all of us that we felt we were being strangled. I always resented her co-dependence on all of us. She never learned to drive and constantly needed to have someone to take care of her. She had no independence and this was her security. As a gay man growing up my greatest fears were that I would fall into that pattern; I resisted it and I resented it. I feel like so much of my struggle to become the opposite of everything she represented.

Everyone said I was her greatest pride and joy and that her life revolved around me. As a child I adored this and my mother was ever inventive in the creation of my happiness. She would spend days working on the most creative cakes for our birthdays and showered us with affection. But as I began to get older and gain my own independence that adoration turned to an overbearing constraint that created great animosity for me. She began to drink heavily and soon it began to consume her. She didn’t take care of herself. As she searched for her own independence, she became lost in an unhealthy spiral that lead to a whole host of health issues that began to devastate her well being physically and mentally. She took an abundance of harmful medications that led to other health issues and soon life became a struggle to survive. She aged years before my eyes to the point that I could no longer recognize her. As much as I pleaded and tried to help, she was resistant. My angst over her self-abusive nature drove me further away from her and we become strangers; something we both grew to resent. I could not release this resentment that her ill health became her crutch and reason for existence.

When my mother passed, I didn’t feel any emotions. I guess I become accustomed to her barrage of unhealthy living and illness and that it was a blessing and a relief that she had passed from her pain and misery. A few weeks later the little boy buried deep in me began to feel the pain of her loss, and one rainy day as I was working in my studio I began to explore this loss in an image. It was the first time I was finally able to connect an emotion to my own creation and I became captivated by the beauty for a life you had given up to give me. Today’s picture is dedicated to my mother. I still have this image hanging in my studio and it reminds me of you.

Today I am haunted by my memories of you. I now see your smile, your warmth, your tender heart that only meant to protect me from the horrors of a live you had lived. I know I was so hard and judgmental on you mother most of my life when I know you only loved me. Today I am ever grateful that you given me this life and that I should find such strength in your weakness. I know you were proud of me and still feel your warmth embrace me even though you are no longer around. Thank you mother for given me such a wonderful life and for instilling such a passion in my life to become myself.

One thought on “To My Mother

  1. Dave C

    >Terry, I find myself in every one of your postings and thank you for stirring things in my soul that lie dormant. These are the kind of conversations I want to have with myself. I value being able to connect vicariously through your life experience and look forward to in person conversations with you.

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