The author of this piece is known to Mamamia but has chose to remain anonymous.
I responded to this card from my mum with:
“For fuck’s sake mum. How do you think that makes me feel? If it’s what you want, don’t hold back on account of me”.
Probably not the response you were expecting, right? Let me explain.
First of all, I love my mother and in a lot of ways we are close. When I was young she was the “cool” mum. I could tell her anything. I told her that I’d lost my virginity and when I got home that night she’d put lube and condoms under my pillow. She did all the things a mother should. She taught me how to cook, manage my finances and told me to dream big and respect myself.
But then she changed.
She became paranoid, withdrawn, aggressive and spiteful. I grew afraid to tell her that I’d blitzed my exam or that my friend’s parents had invited me to go out for tea with them. She became jealous. One day while we were shopping at a produce market, a young man made a passing comment about my green eyes to her. She smiled and talked me up as mothers do. Later that evening when I was getting ready to go out she made snarky comments that my outfit didn’t accentuate my eyes.
She became worse as the years went on. I never knew what mood she’d be in or how she would react towards me. One minute she would be saying how proud she was of me, how beautiful and intelligent I am and the next thing I knew I was being told I’d put on weight, look tired and pale or shouldn’t bother applying for a new job because I wouldn’t get it.
Not long after she started to become physically ill. I watched her have her first seizure. It was a painful and distressing experience. I remember screaming into the phone at the emergency operator to hurry because she wasn’t breathing and her lips had turned blue.
Then there was the day I was sent home from school, for reasons unknown to me at the time, because I had to look after my brother so that mum could go into surgery. They had found cysts in her ovaries. More seizures and illness followed. Each time I was called by a nurse to say my mother was in hospital but ok and I needed to come and pick her up. My mum had failed to tell me she had been unwell and changed the subject when I asked her what was wrong.
When I planned to move overseas in 2009 she came to me a week before I was to leave saying two pea sized lumps in her hands might be cancerous and if I left, who would take care of her? By this stage my relationship with my mother had become toxic. I spent my days worrying I was going to get another call and that she would be terminally ill or injured.
hen I did speak to her it only upset me as everything I said was turned against me. I felt rejected, unloved and alone. At the times I needed my mother most, I felt I couldn’t call on her. When I too had a cancer scare before I left to go overseas I decided not to confide in her because I knew she would make it about herself and leave me panicked instead of assured.
I knew I needed to gain some distance from her and do something for myself. I could no longer take care of her and give her the reassurance and support she demanded from me. So I decided to go overseas as planned even if she had cancer. Some of my close friends that knew about my family situation were still shocked at my choice. How could I leave my mother?