MONDAY: Shattered

BY MICHELLE DINNICK

Copyright is held by the author.

I KNOW I am a disappointment to you. I always have been. You didn’t even want to have me. I know this because you told me so. Over and over. “I should never have had you” you’d hiss when you were feeling especially cruel. The first time you said it, you made me cry. And that made you smile. I tried not to feel after that.

I knew it would disappoint you when I refused to spend my evenings and weekends at home, sitting with you and your friends, being ordered to bring more beer. I knew you didn’t want me to leave, but I didn’t want to be there, not near you, not near your “friends,” or your vices. “I don’t believe that you’re always going to the library” you’d snarl as I left.

“I don’t care” I’d say under my breath, as you glared at me; hatred boiling in your eyes.

I knew it would embarrass you when I wouldn’t stand with you at my high school graduation. I knew I would disappoint and anger you when I wouldn’t introduce you to my teachers. It made you fume I didn’t want to be near you and I wouldn’t be photographed with you holding my high school diploma. The one photo you were in, with your mouth twitched in contempt, I cut you out of. To punish me, for distancing myself, you embarrassed me in front of my teachers and my peers. What I didn’t realize at the time, and neither did you, is that you embarrassed yourself more. Dinner that evening at the restaurant was abhorrent. I felt so bad for the staff. I knew I could never go back there again, and I swore that I would never again set foot in a restaurant with you. And I never did.

I knew it would infuriate you when I didn’t invite you to my university graduation. I didn’t want to be embarrassed this time. So I took a stand. I stood up to you. I stood up for myself — finally.

I was surprised that you were so disappointed when I didn’t invite you to my wedding.

And by the time I was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital to have my fist baby, I was indifferent to the fact you were still disappointed. I had no desire to deal with you interfering. All I wanted was enjoy my new son.

All my life, I knew that my life was inconvenient for you. You reminded me daily that you wanted nothing to do with me. Thanks to my father and my stepmother, I found the strength to be — just be — my own person, independent of all the horrible labels you had given me. I no longer cared I was a disappointment to you. I was no longer willing to accept the responsibility of allowing you to put me down so you could feel good about yourself.

Your disappointment, anger and resentment grew. I didn’t “let you be” the mother of the bride. I didn’t “let you be” the hysterical attention-seeking grandmother in the hospital. I had finally taken control of the significant events in my life that were mine to enjoy. I wouldn’t let you ruin them, or me, anymore.

Your power over me was my fear of you. I tried not to feel anything after you hurt me so long ago, so that you could never hurt me again. Not even when you would scream insults at me, saliva escaping your malicious mouth with every painful word. Not even as a child, when you would chase me, cornering me, in a frenzied rage. Not even when your arms were chaotically flailing and grabbing at me, and pushing me down, pulling at my hair, so you could kick me. Not even when you cut me with your scissors and scalded me with your tea. Not even then. I understand now that you really did want to hurt me. And though I shut-down as much as I could, you succeeded.

What a tremendous relief it is to finally be completely free of you.

12 comments

  1. JAN

    I had trouble with the last line — it didn’t ring true. She may be physically free, but I doubt if she can just put away the emotional baggage.

  2. Georgia Dayley

    Jan, I think that was the point — that she is delusional if she thinks she is free of her mother. She will never be free.

  3. Michael Joll

    That is a powerful lot of anger and “hatred boiling in your eyes” (loved that expression). Enough to kill mom? Or simply enough to gloat at her death or other nasty demise? But the fact that the protagonist sees fit to express herself in this manner suggests, as Georgia says, she will never be free of her mother’s ghost any more than any of us can truly shrug off an unpleasant past. Only one question remains: where was the father and/or Children’s Aid Society when this was happening?

  4. JAN

    Thank you for your opinion, Georgia.
    To me, it was a throw-away line that could have been made just a tad clearer.

  5. Frank Sikora

    Getting rid of your past is like running away from your shadow (my therapist’s line). The best you can do is to accept its company and come to peace with it, or you can write about it. Revenge is a good plan, too.

  6. J.C.Kavanagh

    Wow. Deep and raw. A significant wound to reopen and share. Bravo Michelle. You ARE stronger. J.C. Kavanagh

  7. Dian Bowers

    Thank you Michelle for your honesty story. If asked the question about ones childhood the answer for many is that it was hell. Not surprisingly a great many adults should not have been parents including mine. Your story spoke volumes to me.

  8. JAN

    Michael, I will answer your question regarding CAS having had brief glimpse through conversation with a Worker.
    Everyday there is some kid just having the shit kicked out of them in every social-economic strata.
    Why doesn’t anyone help? The child won’t tell.

  9. antonio lampreia

    This hurtful account of abuse and lack of mother`s love is disheartening!
    Reading it, I was transported into her experience, wanting to run away!
    Disassociating and excluding her mother…”finally, completely free” like a butterfly leaving its cocoon…

  10. June

    I found this difficult to read Michelle, gut wrenching. The why of it? The anger,a parent can feel towards their own flesh & blood. I suspect they were victims themselves of an abusive parent taking out their frustration and lack of self worth on an innocent child.

  11. Mary P

    Raises the hairs on the back of my neck. As a retired social worker this account rings true, sadly, and the effects are everlasting on many children. Michelle, you have touched many with your words.

  12. ASH

    Michelle, extremely brave story! My life story, also. It took me many, many years to understand and FORGIVE; However, I learned so
    very much in the process! Hard way to learn, But I am happy and contented now. Yes, it takes time, but you will get there! Keep learning and
    be proud of yourself. With love — ASH

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