There were more incidents than I can recall. She accused me of wanting my father all to myself, trying to come between them.
Like that day at the beach. One of those days where I was almost able to escape and forget. Until we got home and she berated me for hours for wearing a bathing suit in front of him. The bathing suit she chose for me to wear. She claimed that I’d been flaunting myself around, showing off for him. I was about 11 years old. It was always like that. Things were fine and then they weren’t.
I was ashamed of my body. I resented her for drawing my attention to it.
My relationship with my father suffered. I stayed out of his space and tried not to make her jealous. He was always asking me what was wrong. I was uncomfortable and awkward around him and he didn’t know why.
I felt out of place all the time. Honors student by day. Party girl by night. Pretending to be happy. Pretending to be normal. Pretending that her delusions and my guilt didn’t haunt me day and night.
My mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. That was 18 years ago and now we don’t speak and I don’t know where she is.
I have a good life but guilt clings to my happiness.
Because how can you feel free when you have a schizophrenic mom who has not contacted you in over a year and who has cut off all means of communication? You don’t know if she’s living, breathing, eating, safe, medicated or suffering. You know nothing. What kind of person goes on living and thriving in spite of this? What kind of daughter doesn’t shut down her life in order to hunt her schizophrenic mother down so she can take care of her?
Me. I’m that kind of daughter.
Every time someone asks me about her – “Have you heard from your mother? Have you heard back from the police? What happens now? What are you doing to find her?” – I feel helpless, exposed, ashamed, and most of all, resentful.
How can she be so selfish as to disappear like this? How can I be so selfish as to not be consumed with the need to find her? Why must I carry this burden? Why must this situation expose my selfishness so blatantly? Why? Why? Why?
But what if I told you I’m afraid that I would get lost looking for her? I’ve gotten lost looking for her before. Lost in emotional and psychological chaos. Lost in dark places that exist between her world and mine. Lost in the illusion that because of her, I can never feel free.
Lost in the story I told myself for so long that her illness was mine. I don’t want to go back there.
Simply stated, I do not like the person I become when she is in my life.
My mother. The one who nurtured me and raised me. The one who taught me how to pray and love God. The one who gave me an affinity for pretty things, hugs and kisses and baby legs. The one who showed me what happens when mental illness is ignored.
I need to find her. But how do I look for her without losing myself?
GG is an independent author, blogger and creator of the #30Layers30Days Self-Discovery Challenge. She writes for the crazy beautiful, complex, free creative, love drunk woman who relishes her quiet time and believes in miracles. Visit her blog at allthemanylayers.com.
I’ve been a fan of All The Many Layers for quite some time now, but I fell in love with the woman behind the writing when I read her first book The Beautiful Disruption back in March. Please get into it, her second book, Wallflower, her blog, and the incredible Self-Discovery Challenge. Find her at next month’s F-Bombs event hosted by Twenties Unscripted in Washington, D.C.
GG, it’s an honor to have you on this space. THANK YOU.