I saw my mom torture my dad every day of his life. I saw her scapegoat everything he said and everything he did without respite to cover up for her mental illness. She created endless strife, conflict, madness, and insult where none was. It was a rare day in our house when she wasn’t yelling at him for being incompetent or lazy or uncaring or selfish or just stupid. Often at night, she would yell and scream and then withdraw for a short period of time, before repeating the cycle over and over and over. It was hard to sleep…even with a pillow or two stuffed on top of your head in an attempt to shut out her voice. Not my dad’s voice, mind you; her voice, not my dad’s.
And she raised me through subtitles and hints and little passive aggressive gestures and comments, to arrive at the conclusion that it was my dad’s fault for her being so miserable and unhappy and angry all the time; because he was stupid and a failure and he just couldn’t do anything right. Of course, he was the primary breadwinner, and he worked much longer hours than she. He would go to the store every night for her, to get her just what she wanted, and he, not she, would take her car to the gas station to fill it up, so she never had to. He was the one primarily involved with trying to coordinate transportation for me and my brother’s high school athletic practices and games. He was the one that cleaned the litter boxes and fed the animals, while she sat in her bathroom for hours at night. He changed his eating habits for her. He changed his social habits for her. He had always known of her history and the madness of which she would most likely carry within her soul for all of eternity, and still he loved her with every shred of his existence…the damn fool.
I hated my father for a long time, blaming him for not being good enough for my mom, for my mom that suffered because of him and his inadequacies. So, I have done everything within my power, my whole life, to strive to have no inadequacies; to strive to be the best, and the purest, and the most attentive…the most empathetic, and aware, and infallible, to all, but especially to my mate. I thought that such an action, such an accomplishment, was the irrefutable answer; that all my mom really wanted was a man to truly believe in. It had to be my dad…and all those other stupid, basic men, who seemed so emotionally devoid, so numb, and stupefied by feelings and thoughts and pain and suffering. It had to be my dad, right? And after mom had passed, and more time had passed between him and I, he said to me, “Jeff, what really hurt me the most was that after all that time we spent together, all those years of marriage and everything we did together, in the end, she didn’t even trust me enough to come to me when she knew she had cancer.”
I believe my mom chose suicide through untreated cancer, to remain the victim of life, my father, and everyone else, even as she departed existence. Remaining the victim in her mind trumped the love of my father and it trumped the love of her sons. She had to deny these things, she had to, because if she didn’t, she would have to look in the mirror and realize that she had tortured herself, her whole life, without provocation…without reason. The inescapable hopelessness and lovelessness she chose to accept to survive her childhood, consumed her psyche forevermore, no matter the reality of her future existence; no matter those who gave her undeniable hope and undeniable love, no matter her husband and her sons. She didn’t want to feel love or hope again, she was terrified of them, she refused them, she denied them, and she manifested her own extreme delusion to alter reality itself in her conscious mind so much that no one could correct her perception. She didn’t want to believe in my dad, she wanted to crucify him, because that validated her fear and delusion. And now, I have learned myself, that doing everything within my power, my entire life, to have no inadequacies, is still not good enough to be an irrefutable correction of salvation for a woman (or any person) intent on crucifying you to justify their delusion.
I walked this earth as my mother once, and now I walk it as my father. I think she felt a lot of pain, and I think he felt a lot more.