Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Mother's Stories

Painting by Segantini, Giovanni, 1894

I know my mother’s story. Many of her stories, actually. Sometimes they changed, some remained constant.

When people try and explain away behavior they go to the back story – the past affects the future. But beware of using history as an excuse for present actions; we’re supposed to learn from it not repeat it.

She was abandoned. She was given away to a friend down the hall. She never knew her mother lived two doors down.

She was beaten, suffocated, and molested by a drunken grandfather who pinned her to the wall and stuck his tongue down her throat. She had to sleep in the same bed as her “sister” who always peed the bed. Her younger “brother” ripped up her comics and used her coin collection to buy candy.

She was in love with a boy in high school and they decided to skip the prom and get married instead. But then her younger sister got pregnant (at 14) and ‘stole her thunder.’

That first husband beat her and forced her to move furniture while she was pregnant and then after a particularly brutal ‘session’ my possible older brother (She knew it was a boy since conception) was flushed away. His name was Christopher (the child).

They divorced and she threw rocks at his car but had already gotten him a good job with the city that he still has today. She went on to have a fling or two and met my father on the ski slopes.

My father lied to her and stole her violin and told her he was with the CIA. He kept her apart from all her friends and family. He never beat her, but after my brother was born he never touched her either. She knew something was wrong but wasn’t sure what and wanted to stay together for us kids until she realized he was bad for us.

She died on the table giving birth to me. Her soul flew up to the humming fluorescent light and she looked down as the doctor pulled me from her.

She found her real family late in life and she had a real brother and real sister and real nephews (who I found later through the SSDI – dead while his father was in jail). After the divorce from my father she found what she believed to be her real name and took it as her own. She looked through obituaries for family members and went to the funerals when one was mentioned.

She cried when the obituary didn’t include her among the ‘survived by.’

I can’t imagine what the funeral was like – her going in and saying she’s the daughter given away, be my family. But her maybe sister was there and they became friends off and on and my mother introduced her to us as our Aunt but by then I didn’t want any more of her family that she’d present to us then take away as not real family.

When the maybe brother got out of jail he visited and gave her a painting he made.

She was bad at math in school. She once brought home a friend of hers named ‘Pearl’ and her given-to-mama wouldn’t let them in because she was black.

She owned the original Spider-man comic.

She married to get away from the abuse.

She had to put down her favorite dog because it became too protective of her.

She once painted a house with barn paint and it soaked into the wood and became splotchy.

She once owned a craft store and would get paid up to 1000$ for her handicrafts.

I recognize some similarities between her and I. We both yearn for family, but I know I can’t find one in the past only the future, one I actively create. She didn’t learn this. I also know not to repeat the cycle of my childhood.

We’re both creative.

I’m not giving her the time or energy to ‘pretty up’ her stories with fancy rhetoric. They are what they are. Many sounded more like excuses as she told us of the abuse she suffered as a child. Many would come before she went on a rampage – the line “this is nothing like what I got; you want to know about abuse?” was frequent.

I’ll never know the truth, but I know the pain. I know she was pained. She wasn’t in a state to have children, but couldn’t relinquish the power she had over us – maybe the only power she had every known.


Amel's Realm said...

You're right. History is there for us to learn from, not to be repeated, especially if it doesn't do any good to anyone.

I don't know how tired you must've felt to hear her excuses. Speaking of power, no wonder there's plenty of power play along the way...sigh. I don't know why I just want to sigh when I read the story. Feeling like a victim makes one feel weak and helpless, not empowered.

Still I'm glad that you're now far far away from it. :-))))

Victorya said...

yeah, it was like it was all a power play.

an ooh! you just reminded me of something. She always said all this stuff, but when my brother or I told her she was repeating it with what she did to us she'd say something along the lines of "stop playing the victim, saying I do it to you"

I hated that! It was like, if we say that we are hurt we're "playing the victim" another power play on her part.

Amel's Realm said...

Yeah, I'm starting to see a pattern of power play in your posts about your past.

I can understand why you hated it when your mother said that to you. Being in the middle of a power play seems to be SO frustrating. Just reading it makes me frustrated, so I can't imagine how frustrated it must've been for you.

Boy, oh boy, you've really been through A LOT. I salute you, Vic!!! *bowing*

dawn said...

Wow that was a serious post, I have to tell you she had no right to do to you what she has just like you would have no right to treat your own children in that manner. She was a sick woman. You on the other hand acknoledge your faults and try to improve. You are a good person always remember that. Hugs!!!

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Of course she was a victim, her own mother was probably was one too. Knowing that still doesn't make it any better though, does it? Yours is not a wasted life, it's tragic she was trapped by her past, that no one stepped in to show her any better. But who showed YOU any better? You did, sweet lady. (Smile)

Victorya said...

Dawn: thanks so much for the continued support as I figure things out. I know I'm faulty, but the more you acknowledge it the more you can improve, no?

Amel - Ditto above and yeah, frustration was bad. And so much so that it led to that feeling of futility - like nothing will change.

Shrink - That is why I'm working so hard to be conscious of my actions (but not over-conscious) to stop that cycle. I'm sure it goes back generations.

MS said...

The unembellished voice you use here --- just wonderful. But after reading this post and the one about memories of your brother, well, I must take a break. These are stories I'll have to take in in small doses. Thank you for having the courage to share them with us.

david mcmahon said...

Dear Victorya,

You share your stories in a remarkable way.

Have you ever thought of talking to a publisher?

I'm serious ....


Victorya said...


you flatter me! Honestly, even though I live in the heart of publishing in the states, where do I start? The whole agent/publishing thing seems so intimidating. . .