My mother was never given a diagnosis for a specific Mental Illness. Judging from her past and behavior, I would guess she was Bipolar. I could be wrong, she could’ve had Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s hard to tell because although I’ve researched many topics I do not have a degree and we are blind when it comes to our loved ones.
WHAT I KNOW
My mother was the oldest of seven children. She was often left to care for them on her own. Her mother liked to go out and have fun (play poker, drink, be around men that were not her husband). Her father was an Army man and a Plumber who worked hard but never stood up to his wife. (For the record not many stood up to my Grandmother. She was tall, big boned, and strong as an ox. She was also from the south and used to hard liquor, dealing with men, and getting her way). She was in and out of their lives from months to years at a time leaving my mother to quit school and take care of her siblings. A thankless job.
My mother started to become like her mother. She drank and was often at local bars with various men. This became worse after the suicide of her first husband. I don’t know who she left my brother with. It was at a bar that she first saw my father. She had known about him from Middle School and as the “Navy Guy who beat up the Marine (her brother) at the Bowling Alley. It was love at first sight for her anyway.
Whenever I went anywhere with my Mom she would put the Oldies on the radio and sing along. She had a beautiful voice that fit those songs. The songs would always bring up a memory. Sometimes I think she forgot the person she was talking to was her daughter and probably not old enough to know the information that was given out.
She mentioned having to leave the State we lived in with my brother and going to live in California for a few years. I asked her why. She said because she knew “something” she shouldn’t and a “group” of bad men were mad at her. (Translated this meant she pissed off the Mafia somehow but when a member of the family married someone with ties to the “bad men” she was able to come home). I always knew too much.
She also told me on one ride that she trapped my dad by getting pregnant on purpose. (Unfortunately she even told me where and what song was playing at the time) She my dad panicked halfway through her pregnancy and took off. No one could find him. He came back when we were a few weeks old and never left. He grew to love my mother more than anything in this world. My mother also mentioned that they didn’t get married until we were 5 years old. When she told me this I was around 14. The first thing I thought was “I’m a bastard. My father never wanted me. He only stuck around because he had to.” I pushed all of those thoughts and feelings down for a rainy day. I never told my sister until years later.
It’s strange how things that hurt us come to the surface at strange times. I was drinking one night and came home late. My dad heard me and turned on the lights. He started yelling at me about drinking. I’m not sure what pushed me. Was it him or my mom standing there in her shortie nightgown? I started yelling back at him “Shut up! You never wanted me! Mom trapped you and you took off! I was born a Bastard how fitting! F*ck You!”. I don’t think I have ever personally hurt my father so badly with words before. I vomited for 5 days. The anxiety over what I said to him was tearing me apart.
The only thing he said to me is “You are my world and so is your mother. That’s all that counts. Your mom saved my life, I would be dead without her and you kids. I love you”. I heard him but continued on a path of self destruction anyway. Nothing anyone said was going to stop me.
There was one thing that contributes to my not drinking. It was right before my mother died. She asked me over to her side of the hospital bed. I bent my head down and she said “I’m sorry I f*cked up your life so much” and she cried as she fell asleep. That was the last thing she ever said to me.
Mommy, you never f*cked up my life. I did that by myself. All you did was love me.