Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The birthday I don't acknowledge

Today is my mother's birthday. I think she's 85, but I'm not sure. She always lied about her age and honestly, I have no clue how old she actually is. My mother is crazeeeee. I don't have any contact with her because she's so toxic to me that I can't be involved in any way in her life. The last time I spoke to her was Easter Day, 1980. Since then, it's been radio silence. We've been in the same room several times for a funeral and bnai mitzvah. But I kept away from her and she kept away from me. So far away I don't think she even knew who I was.

I come from a damaged family. It's generational, it's been going on longer than the USA has been a country, and it's not going to stop any time soon. Like so many families touched by mental illness, we can't seem to get along, nor can we be together at all. We're all damaged, even my perfect brother for whom nothing ever goes awry except male pattern baldness. My sister, who is 62 (I know, she is SO OLD) and my youngest brother who is 47, could sit next to each other on a bus and have no idea that they are siblings. They haven't had any contact in over 45 years. It's terribly sad. But it's necessesary to protect ourselves because the bad is very very bad.

It's sad that my mother spends her birthday alone. She did this to herself in a weird way, by refusing help and refusing to acknowledge that she's crazeeee. She decided that her daughters were a total pain in the ass early on and never failed to let us know how much she resented our existance. She used to say "If birth control pills were retroactive I'd be the first one on line" right to our faces. So pleasant. So crazy.

Growing up knowing that you were a mistake and unwanted is a terrible thing. It changes your life in ways that are impossible to get over. You can go to years and years of therapy, but the fact that your parents see you only as an error they made in the heat of the moment is painful to the max. I'm not angry about it. My father is dead, and my mother couldn't care less how I feel about anything, so what's the point of carrying all this anger. But I do carry sadness. I didn't have a normal family. I didn't have a feeling of being loved or cared about. I wasn't nourished mentally. I was rejected physically.

When I had children I vowed that I would never, not for one second, feel this way about my kids. Sure they drive me crazy at times, but they are so sure that I love them, and I tell them that every freaking day, even when I'm beyond furious. Especially then. I love my kids, but I don't always love their actions. We still hug and snuggle, and that's pretty unusual for 16 year old kids to want to do with their ancient mommy.

What I do regret most about my own mother is that my kids have never had the opportunity to have grandparents. My mother is way too toxic, and their other grandparents live abroad and don't travel. So they have nobody to look out for them, to buy they special cards, to attend grandparents days at school, to take them shopping for something special, and to sit with them when they feel poorly. They don't get grandparently advice. They have little knowledge of what it means to have an extended family.

That sucks. It totally and completely sucks, and every November 18th I think about how my own mother screwed up my kids lives without even knowing them. So it's no Happy Birthday from me. It's just another damn day. And it's cold.

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Blogger Daisy said...

Sad. Sending you virtual hugs...you should be proud of yourself for breaking the cycle of emotional abuse that can come with mental illness.

18/11/08 6:03 PM  
Blogger Crazy Charlene said...

having toxic family members is tough sometimes~~at least you don't live 50 feet from you toxic family member!!
long time lurker

18/11/08 7:33 PM  
Blogger Fibro Witch said...

I understand what you mean. My mother's mother is that kind of person. I walked away from a relationship with her almost 20 years ago, and never regretted it for a moment. Luckily for her, she meet my father and was brought into a loving, slightly dysfunctional family, that said 'I love you' constantly.

If you want your children to have the experience of having an elderly relative, my parents rent out.

18/11/08 8:56 PM  
Blogger scribbler said...

Margalit, you said it was generational, and wasn't going to stop, but you did stop it, and you should take credit for that. I did it too; I vowed I would not be my parents, and as imperfect as I am, I have put a stop to the dysfunction that has affected my family for many generations. I have to fight a lot of learned and innate habits, but it does get easier over time and it's worth it to see my children grow up in an environment of honesty and openness rather than shame and fear and degradation. Please, acknowledge the transformation you yourself have made happen in your own family.

Think about it: what kind of parents will your children be, because of how you have parented them?

Okay, they are teenagers, so don't think about that too hard! But really, you have changed the world, and don't you forget it.

18/11/08 10:04 PM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...


19/11/08 3:56 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

I'm sorry.


19/11/08 6:46 AM  
Blogger Ranchmom said...

As you know, our oldest daughter (and her older sister) have broken the cycle of their biological family's destructiveness. I often wonder how the ripples will go out from this generation of "reclaimed" normalness.

My dad grew up feeling unwanted because he was "supposed to" be a girl. Instead he felt like an unwanted spare and, when he could, moved an ocean away from his parents.

I will never, ever understand why parents do these things to their kids. Ever.

19/11/08 9:51 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

Scribbler is so right. You DID stop it, Margalit. And that takes some incredibly painful, uncomfortable, heart wrenching WORK to do. It's constant, every minute and hour of every one of your days. It IS extremely rare to have teenagers that'll still give their mom love.. the fact that yours do speaks volumes. Boy, can I identify with you on the crazeeeee. You are not alone. I could tell you reams about my life, much of it parallel to yours. Here's to you/us for breaking that shitty, toxic cycle.

On another note- I'm sorry that your birthdays suck donkey balls. I would like to send you a little something if you've got a P.O. box. Or maybe an alternative (friend's) address. Email me, ok?

19/11/08 11:25 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

p.s.- thank you for sharing your story with all of us.

19/11/08 11:27 AM  
Blogger Misfit Hausfrau said...

That is a very powerful story. Thank you for sharing.

19/11/08 1:34 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Ang, I don't think I have your email anymore. Can you email me at margalitc@yahoo.com and I'll get back to you.

19/11/08 5:46 PM  

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