My earliest memories are of trying to placate my mother. By the time I
was four, I was able to predict her mood swings with great accuracy,
and to this day if I can't predict someone's actions within minutes of
meeting them I am deeply afraid of them. My parents divorced when I
was five. My mother almost didn't fight for custody, but her family
told her to, so for years she lied to and manipulated everyone she
could. She would make up very convincing stories and truly believe
they had happened. She even convinced the guardian ad litem that she
was the best parent. Finally my dad won custody when it turned out
she'd been lying to her lawyer about a lot of things. I am grateful
for that every day. It was still very, very unusual for the father to
get custody - it still is, which is shameful. If I'd been given to her
I doubt I would be alive now.
During the divorce she tried to convince me and my brother that our
dad was evil. She would tell us that there was a black hole in his
living room that would eat us up, or that monsters lived under the
beds in his apartment. I just wanted to make everyone happy so that no
one would be angry at me. I tried to hate my dad for her, but when I
couldn't, I finally went to her and apologized for still loving him. I
only realized how horrible that is very recently. It just seemed like
a normal and natural thing to do at the time. Her words worked on my
brother, and he learned to hate Dad.
She moved out of state after the divorce, and we would visit her every
summer. She would dress me up and use me to impress her friends with
how cute and polite I was. I was the golden child who could do no
wrong. When I was 11 she moved back and wanted to see us more. I was
miserable. She hadn't changed at all, she just wanted to use me for
social status and labor. I decided to stop visiting her when I was 12.
She never asked for me when she kept picking up my brother for his
I went to court when I was 16 to remove her parental rights. She
didn't fight it, but she did send me a bunch of baby pictures. She had
taken all of them in the divorce. I was grateful - she was trying to
manipulate me, but those pictures were a precious gift. The court
removed her parental rights when I was 17. I was terrified in that
court room, making my case to the judge alongside my dad and attorney.
I was terrified that I'd see her, that she'd show up and charm and lie
her way out of it. I could barely walk out I was shaking so hard.
This year, I'm 25. My mother just died of cancer. I've had to comfort
my brother as best I can. I still don't know how I feel about it - her
boyfriend kept sending messages urging me to reconcile with her, but I
think that I have. I don't hate her anymore. I'm not angry with her
for all the damage she did to me. I'm not glad she's dead. It's just a
thing that is true: she was my mother once, and she was a terrible
person, and now she's dead.