If I wanted to, I could destroy her. And this awareness filled me with a demented exhilaration. It was electric and awesome. I felt empowered and alive for the first time in my pathetic life.
The only dissatisfying note being that she didn’t look scared, not even worried really; more like deeply offended and slightly mortified.
She’s slumped onto the bathroom floor, where she landed, after being shoved into the towel rack. My five foot nine shadow is looming over her, for a change.
How we have come to find ourselves in this formation, can be traced back to the day I was bullied out of her womb.
It was a story she relished telling. Her version had all the makings of a best seller. There was a martyred saint (that would be her), a near death experience, nail biting action and suspense with a satisfying climax and happy ending.
That, of course, depends on perspective. We would have to get into a multi layered discussion of what happiness is, does and means. But, I’m not going to do that, having given up the mental gymnastics many years ago.
I am not a happy person.
The thing is, when my will was ignored and my inferiority established in the a fore mentioned non-negotiable act of coming into the world prematurely, it set the tone for the rest of my life.
Mother married a weak man; a lovely, adorable, fun-loving weak man. She didn’t know it at the time or didn’t care to know it because he was so beautiful and charismatic. But, once married, she had had to grow up from Monday to Tuesday in order for the union to ever amount to anything.
Not one to admit to a weakness or a mistake made, she stood her ground and took full control of their lives. Dad couldn’t have been more pleased or relieved.
It is here that the great dictator was born; from the headiness and freedom of unchallenged rule, ego and narcissism and years of uncontested obedience.
Being a woman in the fifties, she could hide this dark side under stylish clothing, perfect manners, an impeccably run household, enviable culinary skills and general efficiency in all that she did. Her role of wife and mother granted her appropriate subordinate status in the eyes of the rest of society, while allowing her to wield her iron fisted superiority behind closed doors.
Mother expected me to meet all the requirements of her never ending and debilitating TO DO and TO BE lists, but how could I? So unsure and unsteady was I, tentatively looking towards the horizon only to immediately look back to her for direction.
It was an embarrassment to be me. Pure torture in fact.
Some years back, when life had become so unbearable that I was no longer getting out of bed, the therapist stepped in and offered me a free get out of jail card. I decided to pass go and keep going.
Turns out, leaving home was the easy part.
It was the staying away that was teetotal hard. And mother knew it.
Completely dependent on her, I was in an absurd state of neediness. Depressed and disoriented it wasn’t long before I did an about face.
Mother had given me everything, done everything and only ever wanted the best for me. That was the word on the street.
The day I almost hadn’t entered the world she had made a pact with God, Mother Nature or Magic Fairies about how my life would unfurl. It was non-negotiable. I would never be consulted about my wishes, thoughts, and feelings because they would always be hers.
I was the chance for all that she had missed and desired. I was to right all the wrongs, secure revenge and then shine on and up into the stratosphere. Her pet project. Her Frankenstein.
On the rare occasion that I showed the slightest sign of resistance I was riddled with guilt for being ungrateful and selfish, undeserving of all she had sacrificed and invested.
And so the years passed… from gurgling baby, to hold your tongue infant, to studious head down teenager, to isolated young adult and to today’s lonely misfit showing clear signs of arrested development.
Here we are then in a blue and white tiled bathroom, the manipulative oppressor and her worthless disappointment of a protégée.
For the first time today, I had noticed that she was an old lady and it had shaken me. I had smelt frailty; noticed hairline fissures.
But, it was all so hopeless. My obliteration for her transference. The self loathing. The pain and the disgust. A life wasted.
I was her. I was that huddled form on the bathroom floor. The transformation was complete. It was all so unbearable.
I began to sway. The floor came up to meet me and then I threw up like I had never thrown up before.
I felt her hands on me. One holding back my hair and the other mechanically patting my back.
Back to our original positions. It was just no use!
Collapsed by the toilet, vulnerable and more miserable than ever, I embraced both her legs and sobbed my heart out into her knees.