These women would make ice if you let them

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            Feelings for me get pretty tricky. I used to feel them so much and so often, I had to turn them off for a long time. Eventually that would erupt into some kind of giant crying scene complete with me writing poems for hours and smudging around the ink with my tears, feeling very sorry for myself wondering how the world could have wronged me so. But then again that was fourteen for most I believe. Then all those angry years took all the tears and turned themselves into screams and broken glass from all the bottles I smashed in my alley when I couldn’t figure out what to do with all those feelings.

            It’s taken some time but I don’t really do any of those things anymore. I know part of the mess was hormones but it was also that my mom and I were learning how to grow up together. She went through a lot of passive aggressive attitudes and dirty maneuvers before she became someone I wanted to talk to. She told me I was a druggy (because I’d smoked weed and drank alcohol at a friend’s house in high school). She told me I was neglecting her because I didn’t come to visit more than twice a year – even though it’s a four and half hour drive (one way) and I was only fifteen. She called me repeatedly throughout the day to talk to me even if my friends were around and I couldn’t hang up because of the guilt I felt if I didn’t stay on the phone – not to mention the manipulation I’d be unwittingly forced to endure for days (even weeks) on end.

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            And then I she wrote me her last horrible, seven page “intervention” letter for my 18th birthday and I didn’t talk to her for a year. She stopped. We’ve both grown up since then.

            It took me a long time to visit her after I started talking to her again. I’ve been back once or twice since my 21st birthday.

            But it doesn’t fail to amaze me each time she makes me feel better when I don’t even know I’m down. Since I’ve never had a conventional mother-daughter relationship, I’ve never had one to compare myself to. I’ve seen things from a window I’ve always looked in on but never experienced. And I still don’t really know what it is that I’m a part of. It’s like a horribly unhealthy relationship that finally blossomed. I feel like our bond is kindred to tales of those old, aging sisters that live off in some secluded house on the top of a hill somewhere who spend their days making jam and painting.

            Whenever there’s a separation from someone who’s supposed to be an instrumental part of your life and they come back, there’s this awkwardness. What do we do now? How do we act? Where do I put my hands? Is it okay to laugh at this? Am I holding on too long? Can we sit in comfortable silence? What now? And even at visiting, there’s still a little bit of that. But over the phone and via letter, it’s completely washed away. Ironically enough, I feel closer to her when I only hear her voice than when I hold her hand. Because in person, she’s still a stranger to me — but her voice, I know it by heart.

            She tells me I’m a good person, that she wants me to dream big, that I’m smart, tough, strong, loved, needed, beautiful. She tells me things I’ve never known I needed to hear. My dad has always said those things (albeit sparingly, he stresses the intelligence thing, that I’m the spitting image of him and therefore beautiful, all in good humor of course) but for whatever reason, hearing it from her makes it feel a little realer. And I feel bad that I didn’t know I was unsatisfied with my dad’s validation but to be honest, a mother’s love is different. Plus, considering she’s somewhat of a hardened OG nowadays it’s even more of a ego boost than it might’ve been before.

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She told me today that she makes 15 cents an hour. That she’s happy she got a new job and took the pay cut even though she was making significantly more before (enough to support herself). She said being able to work at night and see the moon and be surrounded by quiet is worth more than money. She said it was the first time she’d been outside at night in nearly ten years. That made me cherish the moonlight a little bit more.

 

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Tiptoeing Comfort


I had a day today. Usually I can handle the world, but today it just kind of felt like the walls were crushing me. I have a family friend I usually call for advice but she didn’t answer. She’s had quite a bit going on in her life for about two years now and I can’t say I didn’t expect to get her voicemail.

The strange thing is, my mom called me. She called me three times while I was grabbing coffee and I didn’t see the calls until I got back to my car. I kind of broke down a little. I hadn’t realized I really needed to hear her voice, listen to her tell me I’m a good person.

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My hormones are totally out of whack. I’ve seen a few specialists who at first didn’t believe I had a problem. Recently I found a woman who’s totally awesome and sent me out for all the right tests. So for now, I’ve got support in that area. So sometimes I have rough days where my hormones play a huge roll in what I feel. Turns out, it’s the same for my mom.

Because we weren’t very close for a period of time, I think I forgot that she and I are so similar. When I was little, we used to get sick at the same times, have bad days and good days at the same times. She’d call and say “hey bug, today is just one of those days” and I’d know exactly how she was feeling because I was too. We’ve always been connected like that. Part of me used to hate it because it meant my other half was over 500 miles away and she couldn’t be there when I needed help or a hug. I had to do it myself. It was really hard to learn how to do that. Especially when my little sister had no clue how to handle her own problems. I couldn’t let her do it alone so I became her mom for a long time. I made sure she always knew she was beautiful and had a good, warm heart. That there would never be a thing she could do that would be bad enough that I would stop loving her. I made sure she would always know that I would step up to bat for her at a moments notice. We’re sisters though, so it’s a little bit more difficult with the fighting and the rebellions in between. Nonetheless, I did my part.

Tomorrow I will sit down with her one on one for the first time in ten years (my dad just informed me it’s been ten, not nine like I thought). I will be completely unchaperoned and completely vulnerable. There is no one there to act as a barrier between us and keep the conversation light. She will just be my mother sitting across from me.

It scares me. It’s like some kind of twisted first date. To think that I haven’t been left alone with her in so long. It’s mind blowing to me. I don’t even know what that feels like anymore.

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I was so glad when she called me back. I get so frustrated when our phone calls get shut off and the recording comes on telling us we have 60 seconds, 30 seconds left. And now I’ll have a full five hours or so to talk to her about just me. Which is just so foreign I don’t know what to do. And I know she’s scared too because when I’m scared, she’s scared.