My mother loved Wizard of OZ and I have come to find this so ironic. The story of a girl who was searching for answers, running from the reality of her situation. Dreaming of perfect relationships from those who offered her the fulfillment of each emotion she lacked, making her whole. All the while she was being chased by her own demons and flying monkeys, and trying so hard to follow the light of goodness to get home. Which in the end she had the power to do all along. Throw in a hand basket with a small dog in it and Dorothy and my mother were mirror images of one another. It never came to me that she actually identified with the metaphor of it all until after she passed.
I think the fact is I have realized so much more about her and myself in the last year than ever before. My ability to talk so frankly about my childhood has made me see that those are not the moments that my true hurt with her comes from. Children go through things, they spectate, they recover and forgive at the slightest gesture of love. They love no matter what and have an amazing ability to let go of their parents faults and idealize them without question. As an adult it became more heartbreaking to watch my mother struggle and destroy herself. I think that adult awareness becomes such a weight of reality, always having that fear of how it will end.
You see my mother was a constant back and forth of good decisions and bad, happiness and sadness. I look back and see where she struggled just in the day to day, no ability to truly manage life on her own. Within a year of returning from Texas, number three had turned into number four. Number four was the first time I felt like she had made a good choice, she was happy and healthy. But once again it didn’t take long for him to fade out of our lives too. This left just the two of us as I headed into high school. This was the turning point for me where I began to look at things like an adult and feel the weight of our situation. This is where I took on the role of protecting her and wanting so desperately to be the reason she turned her life around. I found myself trying so hard to do everything right, so she could feel loved and supported. Now as I sit here, a mother myself, I know this was when I began to carry the weight of being an adult. This is when the hurt started to collect itself inside of me like a card catalog of her wrong doings. All stored away and filed under “Why?”
She spent most of my Junior year in bed. Most days I would come and go to school with very little interaction with her. I think that she had come to a place where depression had overcame her. We had moments and small blocks of time where she was functioning and alive inside. We were friends, we talked, we laughed. God she was funny and still just so beautiful. Even after all we had been through, I still remember wanting so badly to be as beautiful as her. But the waves of sadness would come and she would be gone again. I moved out at the end of my junior year, I left her. She sat on the step in front of our house that day and told me I wasn’t suppose to leave her, that I was all she had. Walking away from the weight of it all was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I had this fear that I had no idea who I was without her and this uncontrollable need to prove that I could make better choices than she had.
Here I was in such a place of truth. The crossroads that I think every child of an addict comes to. Do I idolize my parent so much that I see no wrong in the things they do? Do I become the same as them, live their mistakes, walk their same path? Or do I overcome? This was a defining moment in my life where I knew I would never walk her road, I would never let anything control me to the point of destroying who I was inside. This never came from a place of thinking I was better than her, I simply believed in who she really was, and identified more with that place of realness and light. My answers certainly never came from rainbows and yellow brick roads. She was my storm, my twister, the thing that hits you in the head and gives you perspective and direction.