I am afraid someday she will kill me. What happened? Where did my little girl with the beaming smile go? She gets drunk and rants and raves, breaking things, storming around as her sister and I sit frozen, scared to say anything as we never know what will send her off.I know about domestic violence. I grew up in an alcoholic family with all that entails and watched my mom get beaten by her drunken spouses and boyfriends and I swore it would never happen to me. I didn’t follow in her footsteps in that way but I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, I was a terrible person to be around for many years and a horrible mom. I have been sober since she was 4.
I am her mother but that means nothing to her when she hits me. I have lived my life with the childhood memories of abuse. The fighting, leaving with only the clothes on our back, being homeless, watching as a drunken man throws all our stuff out into the yard while my mother sits and bleeds and cries, waiting for a ride to somewhere safe.
She has never seen a man hit me, so why does she think its okay for her to hit me?
Looking back I can see the mistakes I made when she was little. She is a survivor of child abuse that took place when I had left her in unsafe places so I could get high. One always thinks they are safe with family but that is not always true. Guilt and shame for who I was and what happened to my little girls eats at me, even though it was many years ago. I still know I let them down.
It began after I sobered up and we got our first home, when I let her get away with telling me who could sleep with me and who could visit our home. She would freak out if there was a man in the house and I would make him leave. I stayed single for 6 years until I thought she was old enough but there was always something she would do to sabotage any personal male relationship I had. I didn’t think at the time it was deliberate, but now looking back I can see that it was.
She drinks; she is a volatile, belligerent drunk. How do you keep safe from someone whom you are used to protecting? I see clearly that although I love my child it doesn’t make me her doormat. It doesn’t make me her punching bag. It doesn’t make me less of a parent because she makes me feel like I somehow let her down, somewhere along the way, that it was my fault and I deserve how she treats me. I provide a home, food, clothing, rides because she is my child and I want better for her than it was for me, but I have crossed the line into enabling her. Into the deep dark hole of guilt ridden deeds I have done so she won’t throw a fit or quit loving me.
I look in the mirror at my black eyes and broken nose and wonder what I did to deserve this, even though I know I did nothing, it doesn’t change the way I feel or think. It will take time to heal the broken voices in my head, telling me I deserved the beating, that I am a failure as a person and a parent.
I decide not to let her come “home." No matter the pleas, the promises or what she is doing to wreck her life, she must write her own story. She is homeless, she gets high, her man beats her, she talks of changes but they never come. I will not buy or reward her good behavior as I did when she was a child, she is no longer a child, she is 22, grown. The expectations of an adult are placed upon her and what she does with her life is no longer my business no matter how much I want to “fix” it for her. She must now do it without me.
I am worthy of respect from my child. I am not responsible for the choices she makes. I don’t deserve to be hit, no matter what mistakes I made in the past or what I did or did not do or what mistakes I make any time, there is no excuse that makes it okay for her to punch me in the face and tell me what a worthless person I am because I am not doing or acting like what she wants.
A weight has rolled off of me and I feel free for the first time in years. It doesn’t mean I won’t worry about her, it doesn’t mean I don’t care, it means I finally think enough of myself to recognize what has been going on and to stop it from continuing. I am not a prisoner in my own home. I am her mother but who she chooses to be is not my choice and what she does with her life is up to her, I do not have to participate in her insanity no matter what the social expectations of a parent might be or what people might say or think.
I am a survivor of many things, but the hardest one has and will always be looking at me from my mirror, talking to me in my head, telling me lies, feeding my guilt and shame, saying things that I know aren’t true, questioning myself about my worth and value, the decisions I make. I will speak up, I will not let fear rule me, but deep inside I still think, someday she will kill me...
If you or someone you know is possibly in danger, please call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or visit thehotline.org for free and anonymous professional guidance.