i was surprised when the word came out, naturally. Calmly. Without any emotional ties. Evidently, both the words Daddy and Mommy mean “woman I want to fuck” carried somewhere within.
i called my mother Mommy until i was 15. One of her horrendous attempts at teaching me that she will call me crazy and lock me up if i step out of line backfired when the staff would stop me every time i referred to my mother as Mommy. That time, i was taken in with a black eye and second degree burns. It was my good eye and my dominant hand, which should have provided clues that my mother was a liar. Even people who self injure don’t tend to incapacitate themselves in the process, like making themselves rely on the eye that doesn’t see the big E and making it hard to wipe your own butt.
Eventually, the Staff all noticed my passive personality, that i was always looking for some way to help or clean. She showed up an hour late for family time, screaming and raging, and throwing my sweater on the floor before storming out. i was so obedient that they literally gave me the keys and trusted me to fetch their coffee and snacks. i know that seems impossible, but some people are there to get off on the control factor. What is a bigger control factor than giving an inmate the keys because they are so obedient that you know they won’t do anything but serve your coffee and juice? i had to unlock a door at the unit, walk down a locked hallway, unlock a second door for the cafeteria, and get the coffee and juice or snacks for the staff. i had all of the keys. i could have walked out, unlocked “safe rooms” but the worst thing i did was pass out about a hundred copies of a picture of flowers with the caption, “I think the mistake a lot of us make is thinking out State Funded Psychiatrist is our friend.” All of the teens put them all over the units, so the staff found them literally everywhere. In their frig, taped to toilet seats, in their chairs.
The frightening part was that some of the kids were locked away for years and years at a time. They had matching shirts and wounded spirits. The shirt color related to the level they were on, and wether or not they could piss without adult supervision. It is a crazy idea to me that people get better by being jammed together, irrespective of what caused the issue to begin with. Imagine being suicidal and stuck in a small room with people who are oppositional defiantly throwing furniture around.
Eventually, one of the teachers pulled me aside where i was cleaning and reorganizing the library alone and said that everyone knew i was being abused. i was actually surprised and denied it. She was moving to New York, she said, and started crying. She told me everyone knows, and that she would give anything to take me with her. i told her to not feel bad, my mother would never sign over control again.
Once, a therapist had come to my school right before this lock up, she told me her name and then asked, “How long has your mother been sexually abusing you?” In reply, i had walked outside and threw up all in the courtyard. If a client had that kind of reaction to that question, i would have simply thought, “Oh! I’m really on to something!” She never came back. i was sent off instead. i think i may have told her she was disgusting before i ran to the nurses office to call and go home. i don’t remember anything else of that day.
i haven’t thought of that in years, and i don’t know for sure what made me remember it. i was reading a book on autism, where they explain thinking in pictures really well, and my mind thinks that way too. Pictures, memories, with no emotional attachment. It’s not disassociation. Its how i think. And then it smelled sickening outside, the picture came up, and the memory was there.
i have to say that a lot of my therapists were painfully stupid, something i was aware of at the time. It is pretty damn hard to let someone in when you know you are far smarter than they are. And i was 12, raised to believe that we were the no rules family, and that it was not necessary to respect anyone else outside the family. Its interesting that i believed i had no rules, while under extremely tight control. Mainly because i was allowed to speak up and say i didn’t like a rule, or negotiate very tiny amounts of privacy, or stay home from school to read all day long.
When i kept seeing my mothers legal first name pop up on a friends facebook feed, i felt jolted, like kicked in the stomach. Then, she came up in a dream. When i saw her picture, on facebook, i felt a cringe, i flinched. i thought, she doesn’t look like a monster. She is still beautiful. i had to look at the comments, and was thankful that the dog isn’t hers, since i’m not there to do all of the feeding and hauling food and baths and all. Her eyes are empty, but her beauty is intact. i will never be as beautiful as she is, which i accepted decades ago.
It is pretty cool that i can say the word, “ma’am” now without feeling like i need to vomit, as long as it isn’t said to me. It is pretty amazing that in the intervening decades, i’ve managed to create a space for the word “mommy” to mean something special and beautiful and completely unrelated to Callie (the name she uses, which is not her legal name).
i try to notice the ways that i actually still need a mommy in life, without making myself feel bad for having a part of me that never grew up, or having a sense that something is missing: Soft, female, nurturing energy. Something i want to loose myself in. Something i wish i could not need.