I always blamed my mom for our broken family. Don’t get me wrong – she didn’t cheat on my dad. But in my mind, she never gave him a chance to repent and be a good husband to her. I was ten at that time. My brother Marcel was three or four years old, and the twins (my sisters Neemah and Neelah) were a little over one year old when it happened. She just took all four of us and decided to leave my father after one indiscretion.
Words Were Left Unsaid
We never talked about it. Mom moved us to Pennsylvania while dad remained in New York. With the distance and all, we see him once a year during Christmas. He moved on and found a new woman, of course. We heard from him less, and it’s like he forgot about us. In my mind back then, it was all mom’s fault. If she didn’t leave him and if only she forgave him, we would still be a family.
My siblings and I are close, but we were never that “loving” with my mom. She worked two or three jobs at a time to support us, and I’m grateful for that, but she never had the time. While growing up, we had no dad, and while our mom was around, it was as if she wasn’t there at all. My anger for her festered over the years thinking if only she stayed, this would never have happened.
Making The Same Mistakes
I looked for love in the wrong places and married early. Again, I blamed her for my demise. If only she were there for me, guiding me, and doing “motherly” things, I wouldn’t have married early. I would have finished college, and my life would be on track. If only she stayed, my life or our lives would have been better. That’s what dad said anyway.
Blaming my mom has become a pattern. My life is in ruin because of my mom. She had a hand in all of this, and she needed to be punished. I stayed away from her after Aneeka, my daughter, was born and would make up excuses for not visiting her. One day, when I got home, my mother was in my living room.
“I didn’t know that you and Trey separated.” She said after kissing my baby girl hello.
“Well, it’s my business, not yours. You don’t have to burden yourself with my problems.” I told her sarcastically.
She just looked at me and asked me if I wanted coffee. I said yes, and she made a fresh pot. My mom was unusually quiet, and I know something was up. I asked her what she was doing in my house because I couldn’t take the weird silence any longer.
“I haven’t seen you and Eeka for months. Of course, I miss you. I miss you both. ” Oh so, now, she “misses” me. It was so funny. I put my daughter to sleep and went back to the living room where she was waiting for me patiently.
The Long Wait Was Over – The Truth Came Out
“So, what’s up, mom?” I said.
“Keekee, I know that you blame me for leaving your dad. You’re old enough now, and it’s time that you understand what happened all those years ago.” She paused.
“I became your dad’s girlfriend when I was fourteen. We have been together ever since, and I was loyal and committed, but he wasn’t. Sure, I was his permanent “girl,” but he had tons of other girls on the side. I was too afraid to let go of him because I thought I wasn’t strong enough. He made me feel that I was living because of him.” I never heard of this version before, and my mom is not a person who lies.
“So, at 21, I had you, and we got married. I thought that your father would change, but he never did, Kee. He hit on Aunt Carol,” (Carol was my mom’s older sister.) “And, he had several “meetings” with my cousin, Deandra. You know, Libby’s mom? That’s why I don’t go to their parties. Your dad was tapping my cousin for years.” Mom drank water, and by this time, she was teary-eyed.
“I wanted us to be whole, and as much as I can take it, I have taken it all in, Kee. My priority was for all of you to have your parents around as you grow up, but it was killing me day by day. When he brought that woman in our house, and he told me that he would divide the place to accommodate her, that was the last straw for me. I almost drank that insecticide bottle in the bathroom if you didn’t knock on the door, Kee. You were looking for me, and you knocked. I stopped because of you.” A tear fell down her cheek.
“What do you mean, ma?” I asked her.
“Your dad suggested that one-half of the house is for us, and the other half is for that woman.” She was referring to my dad’s ex-wife, Selene.
“No, not that. You considered suicide?” She nodded. “For a split second only, an act of desperation.” She said. But she doesn’t understand the thoughts I have. “When someone commits suicide, it can be very confusing and overwhelming for the family members and loved ones left behind.” Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC once said.
“I didn’t want to raise you that way, Kee – Selene and me in one God-forsaken house. It’s not right. That’s the reason why I left him when I got my senses straight. Also, you couldn’t see it, but he would pull my hair or slap me when I didn’t agree with whatever he wanted. I had to do it. I had to keep you all away from him.” She paused.
A Wave Of Realization
“Now, do you understand?” She asked me.
“Over time, abusive relationships can breed a trauma bond and a sense of helplessness. Chronic lack of power can lead to depression and physical symptoms.” –Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT
By this time, my eyes were filled with tears. I didn’t know that my mother took it all for our sake. She was in an abusive relationship, and true, the heartbreak of her husband cheating on her regularly is a killer. I went to my mom’s side and hugged her really tight. With that, all I can manage to say was “I’m sorry, mom. I am so sorry.”
She said, “Hush, child. It’s over now. I just wanted you to know what happened, and that I am sorry too. I hope you have learned a lesson from this, and that you have to put yourself first above everything else. I should have left your dad a long time ago, but I didn’t. I didn’t know what to do than before the “grand event,” and I stayed blindly for years. I hope it’s not too late for you.” That is where I realized Nicole Tammelleo, LCSW-R, statement that “Love is not about power and control. Everyone deserves a healthy relationship.”