A Mother’s Love

6 10 2009

Everyone has a pain that they carry around inside themselves from day to day with the determination to keep it safe, keep it quiet and keep it from leaking into their life. It’s like a bucket of caustic poison that is filled to the very brim, deadly little bubbles winking at the edge of the shiny metal bucket that is balanced to precariously inside of each person, and every moment of every day is like a balancing act to keep the posion from spilling over the edges and sweeping through the person like a tidal wave. Everyone’s bucket of poison is different, but each one is painful and a struggle to balance from day to day.

My bucket full of poison is partly full because of my adoptive mother. She was a sick woman from the beginning…she had kidney disease and lost her kidneys in her early 20s, meaning that she needed a transplant and was told that she and my adoptive dad would never be able to have kids so they decided to adopt me. They had her transplant, adopted me and then a couple years later they miraculously had my little brother, who is their biological son…and my mom lost her kidney again, meaning that she needed another kidney transplant.

My mother was very sick because of her anti-rejection medications and the fact that she was immunocompromised. Her body had been through a lot and the medications they used back then had issues that didn’t arise for decades afterwards. She had heart issues, skin cancer that spread like wildfire and changed into other forms of cancer and she had brain aneurysms that popped up with no warning. Her reduced immune system led to a small cold turning into something that could be deadly so she spent a lot of my childhood sick or in the hospital. I spent way too many nights being wakened by my dad who would ship us off to a neighbor, our grandparents or a relative who would keep us the rest of the night, get us to school and then ship us back to the hospital where my mom had been taken the night before. I was told many times to say good bye because she might not last the night or she might not last the hour…and she kept surviving.

Through it all, there was the balancing act and the fear that she was going to just slip off into death. One of the scary things was the not knowing when she was going to collapse, get sick or maybe even die, and it took a toll on us as a family. It was exhausting spending so much time at hospitals or fearing our mom’s death…so after too many close calls, it became easier to shut down because we had said good bye one too many times.

To compound the issue, my mother had severe emotional issues and a dysfunctional relationship with my dad that culminated in shouting fests and one of them rushing out. Her emotional issues manifested in strange ways.

When I was a teenager she threatened my dad, “It’s either her or me…either she leaves or I do” because she didn’t want me to live with her anymore. As a young girl she used to scream at me that I replaced her and I was trying to make my dad love me more than he loved her. She told me that she wished she had never adopted me because I had ruined her life. She said she wished she had never had kids because they kept her from doing the things she wanted, like photography and travelling. She accused us of being horrible kids to drive her crazy. I spent most of my childhood shielding my brother from her crazed outbursts and praying that she wouldn’t fly off the deep end. She was an alcoholic and an emotionally unstable woman who hated her own kids so much that she mentally and emotionally abused them to make herself feel better.

And she kept getting sicker.

She left my dad, brother and I saying she wanted her own life. She played games and manipulated for years and ruined any chance that she could have had to be a parent. She didn’t know how to be a mother and she didn’t try very hard. I did laundry, cleaned and took care of my brother as a child because she was always too tired to do it. She was never there when we needed her and she was too tired, too sick and too damaged to know how to be there for her kids. After taking emotional blows my entire life, I pulled away because it was too hard to stay and keep taking a beating…I gave it many years but decided that it would be healthier for me to step away and stay away from her caustic presence.

I’ve often mourned the loss of not one but two mothers. I lost my biological mother as a baby when I was left in South Korea, and I lost my adoptive mother when she walked away, saying she didn’t want to be a mother anymore. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I had a mother’ s love. I wanted someone to be there for me to guide me through life, to talk to me, to be there for me, to be a comfort.

I feel a void there because she is part of the poison in my bucket, the poison that I struggle to keep from spilling over to poison the rest of myself. She will never be my mother and I will always yearn for a mother that I never had.




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