I'd like to say things got better, but that didn't happen until I left for school at the age of 18. Over the years both my sister and I struggled with depression, but theater and writing helped me get through it in ways I don’t think my sister had access to. She is a talented sculptor and draws beautifully, but art has never comforted and blessed her the way my work does with me.
Lesley believed our mother had borderline personality disorder and I would tend to agree she could get angry on a dime and you never saw it coming. "If I had it to do over, I'd never have children," she would say. When my sister or I said something that displeased her, we'd be treated to a string of curses that would end in wishing our own kids would be as rotten as we were. She would also defend her actions by saying she needed to "teach us" how to behave, but violence doesn't teach you anything except how to hate yourself.
I feel guilty sharing this with you, because it's not honoring my mother's memory, and I would like to be able to do that. I am not saying my mother was evil. Her skills at parenting were lacking, and that has had serious consequences for my sister and me.
I'm also not writing this post to say "poor me." I had a great relationship with my dad and he leavened some of the craziness I grew up with. And though I'm more susceptible to stress than I want to be, I'm extremely grateful for my fantastic, caring, understanding husband, incredible friends and my writing career.
There is some good news here too: our mother got better as we got older, mellower, gentler, and more generous. She wasn't always angry and could be very supportive when she was in a good mood.
Were I to meet my mother right this minute, though, I don’t know how I’d react. She has been dead 16 years and yet when I saw what's happened this week, it feels like she never died at all. It feels like those terrible days have come back to haunt us.
I understand it must be uncomfortable to read some of this and I was unable and unwilling to write about it until now. I wish it weren't part of my history, but it is and whether or not I like it, I have to deal with it. I hope this post will allow me to let it go.
Today, I'm asking you to step up if you see a child or children being beaten, whether it's at an airport, a grocery store or even the home of your closest friend. If you can’t talk to the parent, write down their license plate number or mention something to a store clerk or something. Use your eyes so so no kid loses hers.