Not a happy post and has some triggers so – Trigger Warning.
I’ve come to the realisation that my mother might have/have had PDA. It makes sense now that I think about it. She never did any housework, even when she was the sole parent and the house was crawling with ants and the dishes were piled high and every surface was dirty. She never made me brush my teeth and washing wasn’t strictly enforced. She used to leave us (4/5 young children) alone during the day or night so she could ‘work’ or go out drinking/clubbing. Even when there were two parents she still didn’t do housework, except at Christmas and when she felt like it. Oh, but she was more than happy for us kids to do all the housework and look after each other. I think her partner was a bit clueless about the norm to be honest as he never changed her.
Emotionally, neither of them were there. You might expect that from a man who had ‘inherited’ a bunch of kids who’d had no previous experience of parenting, but not from a mother who’d ‘raised’ (I use the term very loosely) her own kids. I can name one time she actually praised me and a handful of times when she’d said (or indicated) that she loved me. It wasn’t just me either, we all got similar treatment. They rarely fought, my mother and her partner, and I rarely saw and pda (hah) public displays of affection. Oh, she got angry a lot, and frustrated, but emotional…not so much.
Then there was the front she put on. You’d think she had a split personality before we moved in with her then partner. In the house she was herself, outside though, she wore a mask. Everyone around her thought she was a good mother, a doting mother, one who cleaned and cared and looked after her kids. This mask became more permanent once we moved, she never really showed her true colours to him. She pretended she cared about the house being clean and the kids being fed. I know though…I know she only cared about that stuff as a cover. If the house was tidy then no one would know she was lazy. If the kids were fed then no one would know she didn’t care, that we were neglected even. She used to tell us to take our coats to school, even in the summer, because she didn’t want the school to think we were neglected, because they might call social services and everyone would know the truth. She was scared. I remember how angry she was when I told a health professional during a check-up at school that she never fed me. I was always hungry no matter how much food I ate, but back then, I probably was underfed. I don’t quite remember but I can believe it.
When I was very little, my father moved away. It took years to find out why. She had had an affair and then, when he’d found out, she kicked him out and threatened to hurt us kids if he came anywhere near us again. Then she had the audacity to complain about us kids being expensive and hard work!
For most of my childhood she only had one friend. We didn’t see much of our extended family, despite having lots of relatives living close by. Someway through high school, she and her friend fell out. She had some sort of friends, but no one close after that, and none of the friends ever stuck around. She wasn’t friend material. No one ever visited our house, even my friends weren’t allowed over, and yet the house always had to be spotless just in case. Her partner didn’t really have any friends either, I think that was because of her, because he had had some before we moved in.
She used to play us kids off one another. The youngest could do no wrong, he used to be a little sh*t and we would get the blame for reacting to him, because we were older and so knew better! When one of us kids did something wrong she would pay more attention to the others, blocking the ‘naughty’ one out. Some days she would have a ‘favourite’ and would buy that one things while excluding the others. My sister got this a lot, she was favoured over me, the tomboy. My sister got to go to a private school, she was the ‘smart’ one. It wouldn’t have been worth sending me to a private school because I wouldn’t have benefitted from it (her words).
My mother was controlling, no doubt about that. She tried to talk my sister and me out of going to college, she wanted us to work for her instead. She tried to stop her brother (my uncle) from moving away and opening a business, because she didn’t think it would work out. More like she didn’t want him where she couldn’t see him. She didn’t want us to move out when we turned 18, my brother left at 16 anyway, I think he took the better option. If she couldn’t control you then she’d ignore you. When I told her I was moving away, she tried to stop us. She said she’d be the guarantor for our house (we were renting on benefits so needed one), she never filled out the forms properly and balked at the last minute. A deliberate act to sabotage the move. When the move went ahead anyway she tried to stop it by going to the police and reporting my partner based on made-up ‘worries’. The police threatened to charge her with wasting their time. When that didn’t work she went to social services and attempted to get my kids taken off us. Controlling? Yes. All she did was cause an even bigger rift between us. She told my son, when I refused to let her speak to him and my sister managed to get him alone with my mother on the phone (thanks for the betrayal btw) that ‘if he loved her then he’d speak to her’. Emotionally blackmailing a child…says it all really.
Manipulation too. It was our jobs as kids to do the cooking and cleaning. Who ever didn’t cook that day had to do the dishes. There were many arguments. Some of which resulting in her storming into the kitchen, shouting at us to get to bed and that she would ‘have’ to do the dishes because we ‘couldn’t stop behaving like babies for two seconds’. Guilt tripping much! She had a knack for that. Having a hissy fit when we didn’t do what she wanted then making us feel like it was our fault. I remember after I’d had my first son, I asked her if she could babysit so I could go out to a party (that my friends were throwing for me) for my birthday. I asked everyday for 2 weeks until the day and every time she feigned deafness and never answered. On the actual day I asked again and her response (after lots of exasperated sighing and other annoyed noises) was ‘I never got to go out when I was your age. No one ever babysat for me so I could go out to a party, so why should you get to go out and have fun?’ I was too stunned to even reply.
One time, when I was leaving my teenage years behind and the youngest child had grown up enough and after mother stopped treating him like the saint child and started treating him like the rest of us, she was talking to her partner about how to parent youngest child. The boy was going off the rails a bit (their version, which included skipping school and not being their little puppet. We weren’t allowed to act out, trust me, you didn’t want to with a mother like that) and they couldn’t work out how to fix the problem. I was sat thinking ‘how stupid are these people’, they honestly couldn’t see the damage that they’d done (her especially) and they didn’t know what to now. I could have told them, would have done had they been willing to listen. I could just hear them in my head ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re just a silly little girl who doesn’t know anything’, so I kept quiet. I’m pretty sure the boy moved far, far away the moment he got the chance.
I never confided in her, what would be the point. She’d say I was lying or wrong or she just wouldn’t care, telling me to get over it and that other people have it much worse than I do so I’ve nothing to complain about. Don’t know what happened to her life growing up but that’s no reason to take it out on your kids. Parents are supposed to want a better life for their children than what they’d had. I think she missed that memo. The eldest kid wasn’t a nice person. Mental health issues or otherwise, he should never have been left alone with a bunch of kids and no adult supervision. Can you say bullied? Torcher would be more accurate. Rape is spot on. Sexual assault, manipulation, the list goes on. Of course my mother didn’t believe me. Years later when the police got involved and she was finally told. In true style her first reaction was a misunderstanding, she thought she was being told about something that had happened to my sister. No mother, it was me. But you don’t really care as long as the girly one was safe. I was called a liar, she protected the abuser, the eldest child, from the police. Pretending she didn’t know his whereabouts despite visiting his home several days before. Oh but if it had been the other daughter then the reaction would have been much different. After all, I couldn’t be trusted, I didn’t know the difference between fiction and reality, I was a liar and an attention seeker. Thanks for that, mother!
I was always the stupid one, the think one, the one who couldn’t do anything right. Shows how well they knew me. They thought I would amount to nothing, that I never did as I was told so couldn’t survive in the real world. I was too lazy, too slow, too useless. My mother was a bundle of fun! Is it any wonder I don’t believe people when they complement me?
I’ve moved on from all this. I’ve moved away. I don’t have any contact with those people anymore, I wouldn’t want to either. I was bullied all throughout my school years but it was a pale comparison to home life. Nothing much surprises me anymore. To be honest, I’m more surprised that I’m not more messed up. Yes I’ve suffered from depression for a very long time and I don’t really trust anyone, but I manage. I have my own kids who I try my hardest to parent properly, the way a parent should look after their kids. I don’t manipulate or guilt trip or insult my kids. I don’t abandon them or treat them as slaves and then mock the fact that I do. I have a good life now. I have friends and family. I’ve moved on in every way, emotionally, physically, mentally. She doesn’t bother me anymore. It’s in the past, so much so that, even with my emotional lability, I didn’t cry even a smidged whilst writing this post. I’ve moved on. I’ve come to terms with my past. It’s made me who I am now and, although I would have liked kind and loving parents, I know that the past can’t be changed. I accept what’s happened and I’ve moved past it. It doesn’t affect me anymore.
I wrote this mostly because I thought it was important to write it down…not too sure why, certainly not for attention or pity or sympathy. Maybe it’s just to let others know what a sh*t mother my mother was. Maybe it’s to let others reading this blog know where I’m coming from. Maybe it’s even to help others, though I don’t know how it would, it doesn’t hurt to try. Yes, my mother probably has (if she’s still alive) PDA. But that doesn’t excuse her behaviour.