The Good Mom
It’s my mom’s birthday. She would be 67 years old today. She passed away in 2006 from an accidental overdose from a mix of prescription, and non-prescribed prescription drugs.
When she passed, it broke me. We had a mostly strained relationship, due to her mental issues. She had been diagnosed with many different things, which aren’t really important, but I am sure most of them were incorrect anyway.
My mom was extremely intelligent and frequently manipulated the people around her, including her doctors. Every new doctor she got, diagnosed her with something different. I’m not sure she ever received any real help. Just more medication until she was taking 12 pills a day.
There were two sides to her. The good mom and the bad mom. At least this was how I categorized her in my mind. I never knew who I would get.
The bad mom would hurt me- physically, emotionally and mentally. Tear me down, and shred me to pieces, leaving me questioning my importance in her world. She made it painfully clear, verbally and with her actions, that I was not wanted or loved.
The good mom was overly affectionate and really fun. She was silly and child-like and I loved her so much. She was nerdy and dorky and hilarious, even when she wasn’t trying to be. She was beautiful, yet never believed it.
The day she died, I knew someone’s mom was going to die. I just didn’t realize it was my own. I thought it was my friend’s mom. I even told my other friend that I thought our friend’s mom was going to die- at the exact time my mom died. I knew it was happening, but I guess it was too painful for me to realize.
See, prior to this, I had been working on trying to get my mom to move to where I lived so I could make sure she was ok. Because I knew, without a doubt, she was going to die.
I had moved away 6 years prior, so I could create some separation between us. I had spent far too long letting my mom manipulate me and create chaos in my life. I was married and had two children. I didn’t need my mom creating her special blend of drama and trying to mess things up for me, which she constantly tried to do.
If she wasn’t happy, I shouldn’t be happy either. Space was the best way for me to escape her because setting boundaries was not something I learned growing up. And if I had any, she crossed them anyway.
The last time she came to visit me, she looked really bad. She had started doing hard drugs again, something she had done on and off over the years, and had sunk farther than I had ever seen her before. She was no longer capable of living on her own or without me close by to watch her. Taking on the roll of the parent was nothing new in our relationship. I had been doing it since I was a kid. I knew that if I didn’t do something soon, she would kill herself. Purposely or accidentally.
After she left, I spent a few months going over every bad memory and every terrible thing she’d ever done to me. I tried my best to process all of it and allow myself to forgive her. In order for me to live with her, and take care of her, I needed to work everything out. I needed to get to that place of love and forgiveness.
I had many conversations with my husband about this, usually ending in tears, and the realization that I had no other choice. As much as I didn’t want her so close, I had no other option because I didn't want the alternative.
Once I worked out all the details, I started trying to convince her that she needed to move. For every excuse she created, I came up with a solution. I had worked out every angle and had it all laid out for her. She didn’t even have to pack. I was going to do that for her.
After 2 months of trying to convince her, she finally agreed. It took everything I had to wear her down, but I did it. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted. It was such a relief knowing that I would save my mom from dying.
As terrible as she could be, I felt like it was more important to save her over myself. Getting to this place in my thought process was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
I knew she would destroy me, just like every other time, although it didn’t matter. What mattered was keeping her alive. So many times in the past, I prayed for her death, just to have some peace, but it never came. Until I realized I wanted her to live.
Twelve days after she said she would move, she died. After all that, she died anyway. No matter what I did, I wasn’t able to stop it. It still hurts, but I can honestly say it was a blessing.
I like to look at it as the most selfless act either of us has ever done for each other. Me forgiving her enough to allow her back in completely, and her letting go to prevent me from more suffering.
Through it all, love won and love remains. Since then, I do my best to only focus on the good mom. The one I hold close, the one I still speak to, the one I dream about, the one I miss. The one I quietly celebrate today on her birthday.