I think the one regret I have about the past few years of disclosure has been publicly discussing my adoptive mother.
Readers have pointed out to me that she was herself abusive for emotional neglect or for not defending me, and that I am wrong to cut her slack by not including her as an abuser.
I guess you’d have to live my very particular childhood to disagree. The one thing I can say is that she treated me no different than my siblings. She was equally distant from all of us. She also sacrificed her own spending money on things for me, and included me in her will, and did every requisite mom thing all moms in the 60’s & 70’s were supposed to do. I guess I’m saying she did her best.
When my daughter was due, she flew to Guam to be there for the delivery. Many weeks later when the baby had still not arrived, she extended her stay. On Christmas day, when we got to come home from the hospital, she started to weep. When I asked her, “why are you crying?” she said she had never spent Christmas away from my father, and she missed him. Despite him making her want to kill herself, despite being miserable and trapped and alone, despite him violating her daughter, she could not deal with being apart from him because her entire world was based around him. How can a child ask a person who feels like that to choose? This woman, who had never once lived independently and only worked for one year of her entire life, prior to marriage, how can a child ask her, after 30 years of marriage and three biological children, ask her to be a single mom for her adopted daughter? The answer is you can’t. The answer is I was not the only victim of my father’s infantile selfishness. Nor was I the only captive.
So I’m sorry, mom. I understand.
And I know it’s wrong for me to have to become an adult early and protect her. But you know what? That’s just what had to be done. It’s just another thing in a long line of wrong things that one just has to swallow and deal with.
These days I think the real crime is not the transgressions of humans, so much as not being given tools to deal with them. And, unfortunately, when the perpetrators are parents, then there is already a poverty of tools to share. If I had my life to do over again, I would wish for a humor gene. Because life is really really fucked up and amusing. And I would share that tool with my mom. And I hope she is laughing in heaven.