123Valerie Strikes Again

Unprecedented Self-Indulgence.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Mother Load

As long as I can remember, I've been The Nice Girl. I know it seems contrary to everything I show you here, but if I had a dollar for every time I heard, "Oh, 123Valerie you're just the nicest person I've ever met," well I could retire to Spain right now with a matching set of houseboys named Paco and Taco.

It's partly because I am genuinely a good, nice person, but I also have a really hard time expressing anger. Thus, it is good that I am in therapy with Alice.

Now, most of you know my Mom died in January, largely because I write about it all the damn time. But, I started this bloggy thing as a way to express my feelings, so talking about my dead Mom falls under that category.

What most of you don't know is that, while she was a smart, kind woman loved by many people--myself included--my Mom wasn't a very good Mom.

It probably started in the womb when she decided to keep smoking whilst pregnant: "What? You turned out alright. I was making sure you'd be a fighter. Besides, back then we didn't have the medical knowlege. No one knew that smoking hurt babies."

I was born in 1980 kids, about 14 years after warnings showed up on cigarette packages.

Her refusal to stop smoking--the one thing she loved in this world--might have had something to do with the fact that she hated being pregnant with me. "Oh, I couldn't have been more upset to learn I was going to have you. I tried to get it over with as soon as possible. It was awful."

True to her word, she induced her own labor and I came about 2 months early. My bad, Mom. Sorry for being born.

Now, to be fair, she didn't lock me closets or whip me or call me names. She couldn't because she wasn't around. She left my two sisters and me when I was about two years old in the care of my Dad. She moved about an hour away and we saw her every other weekend until at the age of 17 I moved in with her after this girl forced me into it.

There's a lot of back story that is important to me, but it probably matters not to ya'll, my pretties. What you need to know is that years later, my Mom calmly told me a little about her decision to leave her three daughters with a man she said she was terrified of.

"Your father was so irrational, and I was so worried that after I left he would hurt the horses to get back at me. So I sold them to a 4-H club at a complete loss. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to them."

In case you didn't catch that, kids, my Mom left her three daughters with a man that she felt was dangerous enough to harm animals, but kids? Well, heck, that's alright.

Now, at that point in his life, my Dad was a very angry man. Part of that stemmed from being in a loveless marriage with my Mom. He yelled a lot and did nutty things like tie dead kittens around the necks of dogs who killed them and sometimes he spanked us hard and shook us for effect. He's apologized, changed and he's such a softie now, you wouldn't even know. But, the fact is that he took on the care of three young daughters, and that is priceless.

My Mom, however, continued to live under an umbrella of delusion. A few years later, when I was just shy of five, my sister and I were molested for several months by the son of my Dad's live-in girlfriend. No one realized what was happening at the time, me included. Or so I thought.

When I was about 19 or so, talking to my sister, we put it together and told my Mom. Her response: "Well, I always thought something might have happened. You two were doing some really strange things at that time. I don't know why I never asked."

I don't either.

Again, good thing I'm in therapy. Alice and I spend most of our time trying to get me to admit I'm angry about these things. A parent's first job is to protect a child and instead of using her mother's instinct to do so, she ignored it. You better believe some serious issues resulted. I'm quite pleased that I'm a fairly well adjusted, plucky gal who is a productive member of society.

So, okay, you ask, "Why tell us any of this, 123Valerie?"

Well, my Mom's been visiting a lot lately. She's not been entirely happy, either--we're not sure why. She's been over at my sister's house breaking stuff--all things we cleared from her house after she died, such as a nearly new coffee pot, a mixer, some pictures, a radio, etc. Just random crap. All broken in various ways in the past several days.

She's also been to see me. A few nights ago, I sat down to do some writing, and I planned to work on a character based on my Mom--a good woman who made poor choices. I sat down to write about the horse episode, but before I could hit the first key, a coffee cup sitting on a table across the room suddenly flew over the edge, dropped on a carpeted floor and shattered. Completely, inexplicably shattered.

My Mom was a serious coffee drinker, and while she loved java, she was not taking too kindly to having her mistakes used as character fodder for a novel.

So, much as in life, I conceded to keep the peace: "Okay, Mama. You win. I won't write it."

Then, I met with Alice for a session today. And she said that my Mom has no right to get mad at me, dead or alive, for the things she did. Furthermore, as an important step in my healing process for what Alice calls complicated grief, which essentially means I'm going to be a mess about my Mom for a very long time, Alice said I HAD to write about it.

I'm doing this under doctor's orders, my pretties.

Do you think I should be worried that the refrigerator just came hurling at my head? I thought my Mom usually plays bridge with her friend Judy and Liberace at 2 on Thursdays. Damn.

In the Comments section, tell me anything you want today. It's a sharing kind of afternoon.

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  • At 4:09 PM , Anonymous mist1 said...

    Damn. So many things to say...you were born in 1980?

  • At 5:05 PM , Anonymous Kirstin said...

    Oh Val! I wish i was there to give you a great big hug!! just pretend I am!!! I think Alice is right!!! You should right about it! Just keep your senses about you don't get too caught in your writing to not notice the flying fridge!!
    I am here if you feel the need to call and talk!!!
    Love ya!!!!!

  • At 5:28 PM , Blogger Kristin said...

    We're going to have to get you a helmet so you can keep writing. It seems like it's a good thing, the writing, even if some people don't like it.

  • At 6:02 PM , Blogger Matt said...

    As long as I can remember, I've been The Nice Girl.

    Really? I think you're a complete bitch.

  • At 6:03 PM , Blogger Matt said...

    My friend Daisy got mad at me and says I think I can say anything and then follow it up with a semi-colon, end parenthesis.


  • At 6:09 PM , Blogger Matt said...

    Okay, I feel bad now that I've scrolled down a bit to read about the sexual molestation, dead mother, loss of horses and the father who plays with dead kittens.

    Jesus. My father was just an alcoholic who showed up drunk to PTA meetings and ALL of my basketball games. (I wished he would just stay home and ignore me.)

    I might be normal. ;)

  • At 6:50 PM , Anonymous 123Valerie said...

    March 27, Mist. I'm an Aries with a really strong Acquarius rising. I thought about deleting this several times, but then my Mom quit throwing shit, so I took that as a sign.

    My darling, Kirstin, you know me--I'm fine and then I'm mess. I feel much better having got that out, but I DO know you're there. Thanks Sweet Cheeks.

    Kristin, a helmet is probably a good idea for me in general. Can I put stickers on it?

    It's cool, Matty ;) You needn't apologize--just shoot me if I ever lose my sense of humor. But for the record, I am a nice girl. Just a nice girl who likes to drink, swear and roll in the hay. A lot.

    Thanks for sharing about your Dad, tho. That's what this is about--to assert to no one in particular that I am not my mother. And I guess it goes to show you that bad parents are kind of a universal thing. Even the good ones screw up occassionally.

  • At 7:06 PM , Blogger Kristin said...

    If you want, I'll help you decoupage the hell out of it. Why limit yourself to stickers?

  • At 8:16 PM , Blogger The CEO said...

    I can't believe you believe in Astrology or the levitation of physical objects contrary to the laws of physics.

  • At 11:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'm glad you wrote tonight. Seems a little weird to have stuff breaking.

    We're here for ya!

  • At 3:46 AM , Blogger Nosjunkie said...

    Val sweetie I wish I could say something that could make it all go away but in situations such as this words are miniscule.

    I am just so glad that you have come out of it a stronger person. You are a fighter Val Strongs my girl you are courageus

  • At 9:37 AM , Blogger Matt said...

    um w/ ceo. i cannot believe that you think your acquarius is rising in your back yard.

    that is super flaky.

  • At 10:43 AM , Blogger kate said...

    I have no idea what to say, other than that you are very brave for putting that all out there.

    I too think you should continue to write. Perhaps it will even give you an opportunity to transform your past into something newer and better?

    -Hey Pretty-

  • At 1:04 PM , Anonymous Allison said...

    oh val, that is some crazy shit honey. i agree with alice. you have to write it. have to. the more you share your issues and talk to us and alice and your friends the better you will accept everything and deal with what has been going on. i really love you val. hopefully your mom will be nice to me and tj when we are staying with you this weekend....

    LOVE TO YOU!!!!!!!!

  • At 2:08 PM , Anonymous 123Valerie said...

    Am buried in work, my pretties, but thanks for all of the good thoughts. For better or for worse, we are not our parents, and to be clear my Mom gave me a lot of good stuff, too.

    K, you know I love me some arts and crafts. I'm in.

    FC&F, it is weird. My housekeys disappeared this morning, too ... Poor dead people get blamed for everything.

    Hey Nos, thanks much, kiddo, but I'm really just a blabbermouth at heart. :) Glad it's coming across as courage.

    Hey Pretty! Good to see you--it's usually lighter fare over here, but I kind of roll with the emotional punches.

    Al Bal, no worries--she always liked company. I can't wait to see you kids!

  • At 4:24 PM , Blogger Golden Silence said...

    I am very sorry to hear about this. No one should have to go through that kind of abuse. Therapy is a good way to get your feelings out and cleanse the soul.

    I wouldn't worry about the poltergeist and I'd keep writing. Writing in itself is good therapy too.

  • At 4:34 PM , Blogger Matt said...

    Scientific studies have proven the therapeutic value of writing. We knew this intuitively but... it's nice to have the science.

  • At 4:44 PM , Blogger Matt said...

    I so want to make a molestation joke right. I cannot tell you the degree of restraint required by myself to not... do... that....

  • At 10:06 PM , Blogger Starboard Tack said...

    Your story is way too familiar, one I know too well. Not for me, but for two girls who are very important to me. It is an awful situation -- a situation no one should have to go through -- and you seem to have done very well for yourself.

    I agree that therapy is a good idea -- just so you have someone to talk to.

    Hang in there. You should be very proud of yourself, given how well you have survived your experience.

  • At 2:59 AM , Blogger heartinsanfrancisco said...

    I'm a first-timer here, but I think you do need to write this story in order to take back and own your life as you were deprived of for so long.

    I've been working on a childhood memoir for the same reason. It's very painful sometimes because it brings back feelings I would prefer to leave behind. But I think it's a necessary part of healing.

    Best of luck to you, Valerie.

  • At 10:32 AM , Anonymous 123Valerie said...

    Thanks so much, Golden. Glad you're here. Relatively speaking, I had it pretty darn good growing up, but I've always been a big fan of therapy. I mean someone who's paid to listen to me? Yes, please.

    Well, Matty, don't hold back on my account. The rest of the world may be a bit perturbed at you, but say what you gotta say, kid.

    Hey Starboard Track, nice to see you. It is an alarmingly common for children to be molested--something like 1 in 3, I believe. I'm no model citizen, to be sure, but I always give to the Salvation Army buckets.

    Hiya Hearts in S.F. Welcome, welcome, welcome. Best of luck to you. It's tough stuff to remember all of the good, bad and ugly from our younger years. Keep on trucking!


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