Read Part 1 here. Part 2 of a 3 part series
In an attempt to understand my mother a little better, I asked her a couple of questions that remained unanswered to myself.
My mother has come so far in life, but she appears to be stuck. I want to know why this is.
I called her one night a few weeks back and completely took her by surprise with the idea of doing an over the phone interview with me. I didn’t give her any notice because I didn’t want her to have any time to think about my questions. I wanted her answers to be as raw and authentic as possible. This was her first time interviewed as well as my first time interviewing someone.
After five minutes of meaningless telephone chatter, we began.
Me: Ok mom, so this is my first time interviewing, and I don’t even have the questions written down, so I’m just going to wing it. Are you sure that you’re okay with this?
Me: Great. Okay.
Me: So, who is Maureen?
Mom: Well, now that I’m just getting to know myself, umm, Maureen is a survivor. Compassionate. I used to be financially independent, and now I’m trying to get that back.
Me: When were you independent?
Mom: When I was working after I sobered up. But after I got hurt, I became less independent. Work was my life, and now it’s like, once I stopped working, mentally I thought my independence left me. After I couldn’t work, I thought that I had to depend on a man, like Chris (my step-father), to help me. I messed up there. I was totally independent before, and I have to get it back.
Me: That’s great mom, anything else about who you are?
Mom: Yeah. I’m a procrastinator. That’s something that I always was. That should be my middle name, “procrastinator”.
Me: Why do you think that is? Why do you procrastinate?
Mom: Well, I don’t know. I don’t know (laughs). I’ll have three weeks to do something, and I’ll do it on the day of.
Me: Do you think that you procrastinate because you’re scared of the outcome?
Mom: Probably. I’m scared of success.
Me: What about failure?
Mom: Yes, I’m scared of failure. I’m scared of it to the max. When I was working, I was doing good, and now I got myself in the hole again. But I think I’ll get myself out. Even as a kid I can remember that I was scared of failure. I had a lot of fear, but I kept it in, I never told anybody.
Me: Why do you think that is?
Mom: I don’t know. I just feared everything.
Me: That sounds like my anxiety.
Mom: Yeah, I was like you with the O.C.D. too. Like with the parking meters and cars, I had to touch everything as a kid, and if I didn’t touch it, I would have to go back just to touch it.
Me: Wow! So you remember when I was a kid and I used to do that? You remember that I had to touch everything twice?
Mom: Oh yeah, I remember!
Me: What makes you happy?
Mom: What makes me happy? Well, my children make me happy. When you guys aren’t upset with me, and when we’re all together, that makes me happy. You know what I mean? Having good times with my kids, that makes me happy. When you guys don’t have to worry about me, like, “is she high or is she drunk”?
Me: That’s great mom, anything else?
Mom: I’m proud of how I came through the bullshit. My childhood wasn’t my fault, and I’m proud of how I came out of it. I survived it! I’m happy when my kids look at me just to look at me, not to examine me. I’m also going to say my mouth because that I’m working on (laughs). Now I can speak my mind and not have to worry about being beaten for speaking it, but I’m taking the freedom of speech a little too far (laughs). I have to learn how to control it.
Me: What is one accomplishment that you’re most proud of?
Mom: Being sober over ten years (May 28th, 2006)
Me: Did you always love yourself?
Me: Why not?
Mom: Because of the drinking. I disgusted myself. I didn’t look in the mirror for years; I just brushed my teeth. I did that for years. When I looked in the mirror, I could see myself for what I was. If I did love myself, I wouldn’t have done what I did, and I wouldn’t have let your father do what he did. I would have been a better mother. I wouldn’t have drunk so much.
Me: Do you love yourself now?
Mom: I’m beginning too.
Me: Why now?
Mom: Because I deserve a better life. I never thought that I deserved a better life. Because I want my two sons to be proud of me and not have to worry about me and I want to believe that I deserve a good life. I know that I’m 60, but I want a peaceful life, peace of mind. Everything was chaotic before. I was living in a chaotic world. That’s all I knew. If my life wasn’t chaotic, I didn’t know how to live. Now I could live without the chaos.
Me: What do you regret most in life?
Mom: What do I regret most in life? I wish of course that I didn’t drink, you know what I mean? The biggest…(regret) After you were born, not leaving your father and just taking you two guys (my brother and myself) and building a new life for just the three of us. After you were born, I should have just taken off. I don’t blame daddy for my drinking, but it was my go-to thing. That’s when I got bad. It was easy to forget the environment that I was living in. I could numb myself with the drinking. I feel that I would have been a better mom. I drank more to forget. That’s why it was so bad; it was my way to survive. I just didn’t care anymore if I lost control. I didn’t care what daddy did to me, I just thought, “Fuck it, I’ll just have a drink.”
Me: Do you forgive yourself today?
Mom: No not yet. It’s like it’s still there, the guilt is still there. I tell my therapist that there are days when I forgive myself, I know my kids forgive me, but then there are days when I go right to hell. I’m getting there, to forgive myself, but I’m not there yet, the pain is there. But for what you kids went though, I’ve been working on that for too many years. I’ve been working on it for too many years and it is still there, so its like fuck it! I’ll just have to live with it.
Me: But you are working on it, right?
Me: Do you think you’ll ever move on?
Mom: Yeah I’ll move on, I have every intention of moving on. But mentally, I’ll try harder to forgive myself. But I can promise that I would love for the guilt to go away, but it pops up. I can move on from a lot of things, but from the guilt, I can’t.
Me: When was the last time you visited your father’s grave?
Mom: Whoa! I would say 30 years ago.
Me: Why so long?
Mom: I hate visiting his grave, it depresses me.
Me: Why does it depress you?
Mom: Because I wish he were still around. I think if he lived, my life wouldn’t have been what it was. A lot of things that happened to me wouldn’t have happened to me.
Me: Do you resent your father for dying?
Mom: Yes. I was angry at him; I tried to commit suicide two weeks after he died.
Me: I didn’t know that mom.
Mom: (phone silence)
Me: How did you try?
Mom: Sleeping pills. I slept for two days (laughs). My mother told me that she thought I was just tired. She thought I was asleep for two days (laughs). So, yeah I did resent him for dying.
Me: Did you think that your life was going to get worse after he died?
Mom: I think that I had that feeling like I knew my life was going to change.
Me: Do you resent him anymore?
Mom: No, not at all. I knew he loved me. He was very sick from the alcohol. There were times when he was never around, either from the alcohol or jail, but I knew he loved me. There was no doubt this man loved me.
Me: Do you think that you’ll ever go back to his grave?
Mom: I don’t know. I would love to. But I get all those sad feelings.
Me: Would it be bad for your health, visiting his grave? Do you think that it would make you drink?
Mom: No, it would just make me feel bad. It just brings back old stuff, and I don’t want to think about it. I just wonder what my life would be like if he lived.
Me: Okay, let’s lighten the mood. We’re getting too serious.
Mom: Okay honey.
Me: What’s your favorite word?
Mom: Mother fucker. (Pronounced “mutha fucka,” with her thick New York City accent)
Me: What’s your favorite hobby?
Mom: Fishing, with your brother of course. (She knows I don’t fish)
Me: Favorite color.
Mom: Blue or yellow.
Me: Favorite time of the year.
Mom: The holidays when we’re all together.
Me: Favorite thing to do.
Mom: Watch the Mets.
Me: Favorite musician.
Me: If you could do one thing that you never did before what would it be?
Mom: Go to the World Series with the Mets playing in it and they win!
Me: Okay mom. I think that’s enough. Thank you.
Our interview was short, but I learned a great deal from it.
Although my mother is sober and safe from my father, she is still fighting. She is still trying. Every day is an uphill battle, and it seems that’s it is getting better, but not fast enough.
I knew that she had her issues and old demons to face, but hearing it directly from her mouth like this just puts things into perspective for myself. Her and I both have a lot of healing to do, as well as a lot of forgiving; me forgiving her more than the other way around. I already know that she is sorry, but I’m not sure if she knows that I forgive her.
She will continue to be sick as long as I keep holding her mistakes over her head like collateral to make excuses for my failures. I need a new outlet. I’m destroying the both us.