With it being Mother’s Day and all, I’ve been thinking about my own mum. A lot of people have been posting on social media, Facebook and such, about how wonderful their own mums and family are, and whilst I know that not everything you see on social media is 100% what it looks like, it still makes me sad, mostly because my own mum is crazy. I don’t use that word lightly. She’s pretty much terrible to me in every way, emotionally abusive, with bipolar traits. Since most people in my family suffer from depression, including me, I get the difficulties she struggles with, but the fact remains she isn’t a good parent. People get uncomfortable when you say that, and having talked to different people about parents like this I still feel guilty for saying it. One of those people said it sounded like she had NPD- narcissistic personality disorder. I’d never heard of it but it pretty much sums my mum up exactly. This website explains it quite well. It’s a very insinuating form of cruelty and people outside the family can’t always see it, since parents like this behave one way at home and completely differently in public. Anyways, if anyone’s reading this, sorry for bumming you out, but might as well not stop here- I wrote a short story thing for my uni course last year, kind of based on my mum:
Two girls stand in a cluttered hallway. Their faces are half-hidden by the evening light. One fiddles with the zip on her coat, one pulls absentmindedly at a strand of hair. Neither says anything. A third person can be heard shuffling around in a room further down the hallway. A jumble of empty wine bottles stand by the door. The clock strikes 7:45pm and the older girl looks up.
“Should we tell her it’s almost time?”
The younger of the two grimaces. “Don’t want to hassle her, she’s jumpy enough as it is.”
“Still, if we arrive late, everyone already there…people will look at us.”
A sigh. “You know she loves to be dramatic. If she’s late and manages to spite the old man, it might actually cheer her up.”
Silence. A muttered curse can be heard from the room down the hall. The younger girl shifts slightly.
“…You know she’s going to want to drive us herself.”
The older girl’s face tightens angrily for an instant. “I hate getting in the car with her at the best of times, and she’s already had several tonight. Should I or do you want to…?”
The younger girl nods. “You hide the keys. Before she thinks to look for them and gets any more riled up, I’ll convince her to let me drive.”
“She won’t say no if she thinks she can have a couple more drinks this way.”
“Yeah, because that’s just what we want. Her drinking even more and making a scene.”
“She’’ cause a scene no matter what we do, you know that. This is the first time everyone will be in the same room for years. Something will go wrong.”
The younger girl pushes the toe of her shoe into a tear in the carpet. “I hate these things. Standing around with a group of people who hate each other and haven’t talked in years pretending to get along. Three hours of tip-toeing around the ridiculous number of elephants in the room, everyone with the same forced smile. We all know exactly what’s going on but we pretend anyway. It’s exhausting.”
The older girl gives an irritable twitch as the tear in the carpet rips wider. “Stop that. Let’s just get through this, get her home, hopefully without her breaking down on us, and then…”
“Do it all again. Tomorrow. The day after. The day after that. As usual.” The younger girl looks up. “It’ll stop with us, you know. We won’t be like that.”
“Mmm.” The older girl looks unconvinced. She stares down at her feet, glances up at the younger girl and just as quickly looks away again. “You know…Maybe it would work better if you drive her and I’ll drive myself.”
“You’re going to bail on us again, aren’t you?”
“No! I’m coming with you, I was just…I was thinking of leaving. Halfway through. Put in an appearance, you know, say hello to everyone we have to speak to, and then slipping out when the party gets going.” Seeing the younger girl is about to interrupt, she hurries on. “Max said he’d be free later, I was thinking I could meet up with him and the others, maybe stay at one of their places tonight.”
The younger girl stares at the ground, jaw clenched. From the room down the hall, the third woman yells an incomprehensible question. Nobody answers her.
“It’s not fair. For you to leave us. You know I can’t do this on my own, neither of us can take care of her alone.”
“I’m not asking you to! I’m just asking- no, not asking, telling you that I’ll be leaving later on.”
“Oh, so now you’re telling me? It’s decided? You know full well if I bailed on you and left you to be responsible for her, you’d never forgive me.”
“We shouldn’t have to be responsible for her. I’m tired of it. I don’t want this to be how my life is, walking on eggshells around that woman.”
There is silence between the two for a moment, in which a loud crash can be heard from the woman down the hall. The younger girl is staring with an odd expression at the older girl. “I know we’ve spoken about leaving, about getting out, away from her, but that was always in the future. I need your help with her now. You’ve been gone a lot lately. I need your help.”
“I will help. Of course I will. I’m just going, tonight, but I will be here to help more often. I do feel bad about how much I’ve left you with her. Of course I’ll help.”
There is another silence. Both know the older girl is lying but neither acknowledges it out loud.
The younger girl sighs. “Do you think there’s any point trying to keep her away from them tonight?”
“You know better than that. She won’t be satisfied until she’s made sure everyone is as miserable as she is. She’ll try and bait him until he storms out, and then play the victimised innocent. It’s what she loves to do. If she thinks we’re trying to keep her quiet, it will only encourage her to act out. She’s like…”
The older girl recoils slightly. “Don’t say that.”
“Why not? It’s true.”
“I know, but I don’t like hearing it. If we don’t say it out loud it’s like it’s not as big a problem as it really is.”
The younger girl laughs humourlessly. “You sound just like the rest of them. Don’t talk about it to anyone and it’s not a problem. That’s practically their manifesto.”
“Maybe she can’t help acting that way.”
“You know that’s not true, she’s completely aware of what she does. She acts like that to hurt us, to hurt everyone. It’s how she makes herself happy.”
The silence stretches for a full minute. The clock shows the time to be 8:15pm but no one suggests hurrying the third woman. She has turned on the TV in her room, and it can be heard blaring down the hall, clashing with the white noise from her untuned radio. Even above all this a glass can distinctly be heard to break. Both girls don’t mention it.
The younger girl is staring out of the window. “I don’t want to be on my own with her. You know no one else will help, especially no one at this stupid party, and with you gone, I’ll be the only one left. It’s not fair. I can’t do it alone.”
The older girl looks haughty, as if this issue is nothing to do with her. “You have to look after her. I’ve done it long enough. It’s your turn now.”
“I was with you the whole time! You’ve never had to do it on your own.”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s time for me to get out of this house. I have to look after myself, I can’t be worrying about you.”
“You just don’t want to feel guilty about leaving. If there’s still someone here with her, you think it’s ok for you to go, that you’ve done your job. What if I want to go?”
“We can sort that another time.”
Again, neither girl acknowledges the lie.
The younger girl is staring at the older with the same odd look.
“Don’t kid yourself, there’s no fair way for you to leave me here. She’s your mother too.”
Her older sister stares back. There is one last long moment of silence before the door further down the hallway crashes open and the third woman’s shadow appears. At the same time, both girls turn to her and both assume an identical smile. The younger girl steps forward. “Are you ready to go, mum? Why don’t I drive tonight?”