Adventure! Adventure! I’m going on an adventure! I was so excited to leave on my Amtrak Residency trip that instead of taking ample time to sleep in (and that is after to weeks of running on no sleep to finish a book), I woke up at 6 a.m. I hugged the pillow for another hour and a half and then finally gave up. Sleep truly is something that may perhaps grace me with its presence when I’m dead. Anyway. The adventure started close to 9 a.m. You see, my train was not to leave till 4:40 p.m., but around 9 I got a call from Amtrak.Read More
I decided, I will do 2 blog posts at once, since I had an amazing and difficult day with my mom yesterday, and I simply have to write it out, to keep my sanity, plus folks expressed interest in the story of my adventures, raising money for me to be able to travel to Moscow, after I learned that my mom had a heart attack and a stroke and was in the hospital. If you want to read the post on short story being a valid art form, go here. If, however, you want to read an update on my mom, I'm warning you (which seems to be my habit), the following is a story that is both exhilarating in its joy as well as very disturbing and at times appalling, so if you'd rather not read it, it's totally fine with me. I will write another summary on my trip when I get back to Seattle on Monday, October 21st.
I went to see my mom yesterday around lunch time and stayed all day at the hospital with her, until the hospital closed, and I had to go down into the basement and along poorly lit concrete corridors to get out. I spent all in all close to 9 hours together with her, one on one, talking, which is the longest I've spent with her in years. Perhaps the last time I spent this many hours with my mother was when I was 16, or maybe even earlier than that, and that would be over 20 years ago. It went something like this. I brought her food, she was very happy to see me. She chatted, telling me everything about how she feels, how her head feels, what doctors she saw, and more. In general, for you to understand my mother better, you have to know that she is a survivor. She has been beaten her whole life, since she was little, often bloody, by both her parents. She also tells me after I have remembered that I was sexually abused by my father, it got her thinking, and that she confronted her own father, for whom she cares right now, (and who is constantly telling her that he hates her), that he might have potentially sexually abused her too, although now it's been such a long time that she might not recollect it fully, as she hardly remembers anything about her own childhood. He seems to have responded that he did, yelling at her. They had a row. And they had a fight, a physical fight. I won't go into more detail. My mother currently lives below poverty level (it drives me nuts that I can't help her financially), with hardly any money for food, taking care of her elderly parents who both need medical care. She's been doing this for the last 2 years (this is what, I believe, has put her in the hospital, as her mom always tells her: "Go away, stupid!" when she feeds her, and her dad always tells her: "I hate you, I never wanted you, you're not my daughter." when she feeds him). What I'm trying to communicate here is, she is still in survival mode, and, in such, she can only talk about herself. She doesn't ask me how I am, how my family is, nothing. She talks like a child, in many ways, and it's because she needs to be heard, before she can ask. I waited patiently for about 4 hours, listening, which is really hard to do, as I'm a talker, and especially because I was dying to share everything with my mom whom I haven't seen for such a long time. I waited, and waited, and waited.
We took a walk. It was a beautiful fall day, sunny and warm, and I took pictures of my mom. She happily posed, and I was glad I brought a smile to her face. We came back, talked some more (she talked, I listened). Then she suddenly looked up at me, and said, "Thank you for coming." I nearly broke down. "Thank you" is not something that my mother says often, it doesn't come to her lightly. And she hugged me and kissed me, and said that it's better late then never, meaning, it's better late than never that we finally got reunited. It was really hard for me not to cry. This moment alone was worth my trip. I told her that I love her, and that I miss her very much. She just looked. Words like "I love you" also don't come to her easily. She grew up in an environment when her own parents told her that they hate her, I don't know if they ever told her that they love her, and had to let go of my childish wish to hear that from my mom and recognize that I came here to give her love, without asking for anything in return, to let her feel loved. She was apprehensive at first, startled, at how many times I said it, slowly warming up. It was heartbreaking to watch. We had maybe an hour of bliss, sharing our feelings. Then our talk switched to my childhood, and I was so happy, I started asking questions again, this is when it got worse.
Ultimately, the topic of my father abusing me cropped up. My mom told me about how they met, got married in 2 weeks, how he was crazy in love with her, so crazy that he told her: "I love you so much, that I hate you." And how they had maybe several months of happiness, though he liked to bring her to tears, and how he didn't want her to get pregnant. He said, he doesn't like children, how she insisted in keeping me, and how when I was born, things went downhill. The entire story won't fit the blog here, and I realize that maybe one day I'll need to write an autobiography, simply to get this stuff out of my system, because there is so much of it, it threatens to blast me apart. In the end, when I started asking how often my father picked me up, what was he wearing, and did he take a train with me, to take me to a 5-day daycare when I was 5, because it was on the train or in the woods on the way to the daycare that he abused me for the first time (as punishment for something, like I looked at a guy with sly eyes, like a whore, and he told me I'm like my mom, like a whore, and he will beat it out of me - I can't remember exactly, and it's what's driving me nuts)... here things broke down. She stood up, yelling that I made her life hell ever since I told her. That she had to take on Christianity 4 years ago (when I told her), to survive it. That I will cause her another stroke with my questions. That I should forget it, that I'm obsessed, and that she is afraid I'm mentally ill. This pushed a button. I carefully was holding my emotions in check, but at this I exploded. I stood up and said, fine, would you like me to leave? I will leave. I was ready to go. Something held me back, some realization that I was wrong in being angry at her, that I came here to make her happy, no matter what. I calmed down, I sat back down. She said, you are cruel, you don't think about me at all, you will make me sick. I said, mom, how do you expect me to react to the thing you just said? How do you expect me to never flare up? You beat me, like your parents beat you. You beat me with a belt. You neglected me. You left me alone, my grandmother had to take care of me because you were gone. I looked her in the eyes when I said it. She said, well, I thought you would turn out okay, because that's what my parents did to me. Then she yelled. WHAT ABOUT ME? Why is it that I got beaten? I'm tired of this pain, I'm tired of everything going against me, I'm tired of poverty! She yelled. I stayed quiet. She said, well, too bad, I have the daughter I have, oh well. This hurt. I said, well, I have the mother I have. I said, mom, I want to help you, I have no hidden motives. We reconciled. She said she doesn't want to see me anymore unless I NEVER ask any more questions. All my hopes were shattered, all wishes to find out more about my history, my childhood. I had to let it all go, for my mom. So I said, okay, I promise, I will NEVER ask any more questions. Unless you want to tell me something on your own, I won't ever ask you again.
I stayed for another couple hours, listening to her again, about everything under the sun, thinking, I just want my mom to be happy, I love her, and if it takes for me to let go, let go completely of what it is I want, I will do that. Because that's what love is about, about giving without getting anything in return. I'm not telling you half the stuff that happened, there were more beautiful and ugly moments, but that is not the point. The point is, after years and years, I have found my mother, I have reconnected with her, I understood why she always was the way she was, I got over it, and DESPITE EVERYTHING SHE IS ALIVE. I love her. I want to give her happiness, something that she probably hardly ever had in her life.
P.S.: Almost everyone in my family calls me obsessed with my past, in one manner or another (some say it stronger, some milder). They say I'm focused too much on it, I'm digging, I really need to ease up. But I can't. To all sexual abuse survivors out there, I can't ease up, it drives me berserk thinking that we still have it happening TODAY. I want to change it, I want to understand where it's coming from, how to stop it, what I can do to stop it. I will dig until I know, and I will talk about it. The times when people could shut me up are over. I'm not just doing it for me, I'm doing it for YOU, for those of you who CAN'T speak up about it, because it needs to be spoken about, it needs to be yelled about, for people to realize this is happening under their noses, still, with statistics raging at every 3rd girl and every 8th boy being a victim of sexual abuse by the age of 18 in US (what about other countries, is it same or worse there?), and of all perpetrators about 85% being relatives (just look at any police report of sexual abuse offenders), which makes me to call it this word that people don't like saying aloud - INCEST. I won't stop, until I know everything about it there is to know. And making it cease to exist is the goal of my life. Making abuse stop, abuse of any kind, and suicide, which is what follows abuse, which is what nearly claimed my life, which is why I started writing in the first place.