The first time I began to realise my family life was a little bit different, and the first time I felt shame over what was to become an apparent mental illness for my mother, was when my Year 5 classroom teacher asked the students to ‘pray for me’ (I went to a Catholic school).
My mum had disappeared, on Mother’s Day, with the only trace of her being a small pool of blood dried up on a newspaper. My present that I had made for her, a poster with glued on pictures of me, remained rolled up on the kitchen table unopened.
Her boyfriend told us that she was never coming back. We rang the hospitals and she wasn’t there. She had up and left and flown to the other side of the country, not to tell a soul…
Evidently, she was fine (well fine if you disregard the unacknowledged mental illness) and returned three weeks later with presents, like your mum disappearing for almost a month without explanation was not that big of a deal…
Bloody Mother’s Day. She has always had good timing!
Fast forward 15 years and her lack of acknowledgment has seen a rapid decline in her mental illness. Many years of burning bridges, of accusations, lying and bullying has meant that she has very little in the way of supportive relationships.
I returned from the UK buoyed by my burgeoning love for Chris and excited by our future plans to move north to continue our lives together.
My mother’s response? “Fine, if you’re going to move away, I’m going to move away too!”
So there began her plan to move to the other side of the country. With no money. No house. No job. And no friends.
“Umm… Ok?! Do you really think that is such a good idea?”
“Oh shut up C, stop telling me what to do, III am the parent here, stop treating me like a child!!”
Her mind was made up. She plonked some of her belongings onto the removalist truck which was headed for my house (without letting me know), gave away the family dog (god knows what happened to the cat – I’m too scared to ask) and left with whatever belongings she could fit in the back of her car.
She was mad. Boy was she mad! I don’t think anyone quite knows mad unless they’ve seen my mother in full flight…
Why wouldn’t I take the dog? (I don’t know where I’m moving to, if they allow dogs, and where I’m moving to has consistent above 40 degree Celsius temperatures). Why wouldn’t I take the cat? (Um.. same reason) Why won’t you take the rest of the furniture? (I might be in an apartment and it might not fit.)
WHY WON’T YOU CLEAN UP MY MESS ONCE AGAIN?!
Because, according to her, I’m a terrible daughter that’s why.
I’ve always been ashamed to speak about my mother. My mother in fact, was part of the reason my relationship with a boyfriend prior to Chris was ruined.
But Chris wasn’t ashamed. He wanted me to talk. He wanted to know. And when I didn’t want to talk to him, he was supportive of my idea to go to counselling.
Off to counselling I toddled, scared of what the session would hold.
“So… It definitely sounds to me like your mother has a mental illness by what you have described. And you say she’s on the other side of the country by herself?”
“And… She has no money?”
“And… No job?”
“… Do you know if she’s ok?”
“Uhhhh… Acttuuuually… I don’t.” She had made it pretty clear that she didn’t want me contacting her. In fact, she was pretty nasty last time we spoke.
Cue familiar guilty daughter feelings
“Do you think you should get in contact with her?”
I tried to do the right thing. I called her multiple phone numbers (for her multiple phones) to which she hung up on me. So I messaged her… I let her know that I hadn’t heard from her for a few months and so I was worried about her.
Her response? I was an awful daughter for waiting that long to get in contact with her.
I was done. So done. I couldn’t do it anymore. I gave her an ultimatum.
Do not contact me until you have received mental help.
She said I had a mental illness. That I was a horrible person. And that she had disowned me as daughter.
And then a couple of months later Chris died.
She had no idea. I didn’t want her to know…
I gathered my own strength. I flew to the UK by myself. I organised 3 ceremonies to say goodbye to Chris. I did it on my own. And it was time to go back to work.
Work was hard, but I had been missed. The students and parent’s faces broke into massive grins when they saw me. I was, dare I say it, even having a good day!
Then the phone call came.
“Hi, we’ve received a phone call from Sally, she says your mother is really sick and you need to call this number.”
My first day back at work. Always amazing timing.
Bonk, bonk, bonk, I press in the numbers into my phone press the call button.
“Hi, I received a call from a Sally saying my mum is really sick?”
“Oh hi, I’m a nurse here… There isn’t a lady called Sally here, that was actually your mum calling.”
Mum was high on drugs. She had attempted to kill herself. She told me that my brother was dead, that the bones in her neck had collapsed and that her teeth were falling out.
I gave her sympathy and said that we cared about her. She hung up on me.
The medical staff weren’t telling me anything.
I didn’t tell mum about Chris.
All on my first day back at work.
ANYWAY… As you can imagine our relationship still isn’t great. I’m not sure that a relationship even exists. But the whole reason for this story is because mum sent me an email about a month ago asking for her sewing machine. Most of her things I actually threw out/gave away after Chris died. He wanted to do it when we got the stuff originally, but I said no.. We can’t do that to mum’s stuff.
I actually did send it over, hoping that it might give her a healthy hobby to which I received the following computer typed letter.
Thank you for the sewing Machine.
It was unexpected and still works perfectly.
Thank you again,
(My mother’s name)”.
This was surrounded by love hearts. What does it mean?? Why has mum spelled machine with a capital m when she has always been highly competent with grammar? Why has she written her name and not mum? Why has she printed it out from a computer?!?
I guess there are just some questions in life that can never been answered.
(PS: On a positive note my friend and I’s photo was chosen to go on the front of the social pages in our local paper, woo whole page spread! Just message for my autograph hahaha!)