|Supposed to shelter yet broken, via Umbrella Carnage|
Had to. Burden. Obligation. Imposition. No escape. Decades of resentment packed into the perfect sound bite and served up over coffee to the woman who replaced her, the woman who is living her life, with the man she tossed away without a second thought many years ago.
It is Sunday, tact and graciousness have the day off and we are squished into my mother's tiny living room after having been brow-beaten into accepting a cup of coffee before we hit the road. My father and his partner – who came to pick me up – try their best to deliver humorous small talk as I sit back, compressed into the armchair and silently willing my ears to seal shut and the torture to end.
The sound bite is the end result of three weeks spent at my mother's trying to find some common ground that would enable us to have some kind of working relationship in the future, three harrowing weeks of batshit crazy, emotional blackmail and repeated attempts at reducing me into a helpless little kid again.
From a staged health scare to suicide threats, each day brought new attention-seeking maneuvers, inventive pettiness and random spite. With a tongue so sharp it can cut through the most cheerful of dispositions and conjure up thunder and lightning on a perfect sunny day, Mother made mincemeat out of the previous 36 years. And me.
During one of her particularly vicious tirades, I decide to remind her why we never really "got on". Only I hadn't planned that my reminder would turn out to be a revelation. Instead of finally tackling the taboo of domestic violence against kids, I am the messenger bearing breaking news. A scoop even.
But it isn't a look of horror or contrition that crosses her face as I hiccup my way through the words I have been rehearsing in my head for years, words that state facts rather than point the finger, words I had hoped to deliver in the deadpan voice of a bored newsreader and that instead make me shake uncontrollably while I furiously blink back tears.
She certainly doesn't rush towards me for a hug either.
Instead, she stares at me with a sarcastic smile, defends some her actions, alleges not to remember others, laughs, announces that I am welcome to leave at any time and eventually goes out for a walk.
When she returns a couple of hours later, she hands me the last of my things – some photographs and postcards I didn't even know she had kept – and a large trash can.
And just like that, a part of my life is laid to rest because finally speaking up has enabled me to let it go.
However, no amount of forgiveness on my part is ever going to translate into any forgiveness on hers – I ruined her life by being born.
This is an immutable truth.
For three weeks, I tried my best to foster a climate of mutual understanding and my best wasn't good enough.
Did I leave with yet another failure to my name or did I leave with a resolution disguised as failure?
Either way, this visit was a full stop rather than a comma.
Some nuts are just too tough to crack.