The police came to my door last night asking if they may come in, would I like to sit down. Why would I need to sit down, I said, thinking is this finally about my mom? And it was.
My mom died either early yesterday morning or late the night before. She'd been saving her medications for years, rotating the stock so the freshest ones were in her stash. This time, she took enough to die.
She'd tried to kill herself many times by doing this but hadn't been successful until now. About ten years ago she slipped on the ice and landed on her forehead and wrists. Both wrists were broken and her personality shifted. Before that she was a little crazy, dealing with service and sales people very rudely and unkindly. Her attitude and opinions were a bit weird or 'out there' but mostly grounded in reality. When she hit her head it was like the sane part of her became the minority and the crazy part took over. Suicide attempts became her way of dealing with stress, sort of like a reset button. But to my knowledge she hadn't attempted anything since my dad died almost two years ago.
When my dad died my mom lost her only anchor in the world. My sisters and I had been hurt and manipulated by her for years and were all pulling away. She had no friends that I know of, nor did she for the time I knew her. So my dad was the only person that kept a kind of tether from her to the rest of the world. When my mom made it past the year mark of my dad's death I thought maybe she'd learned how to function in the world without him and may be around for a while.
My mom left a note for us basically saying that she was lonely and sad and tired of being that way. Oddly, this gave me comfort because maybe now she will finally be out of the prison that her mind had become. Maybe now she will finally be out of pain, emotional or otherwise. She could have sought help, she was under the care of a psychiatrist for years, but she seemed unwilling to make the changes she needed to or participate in her therapy. She did go to group therapy but if I remember correctly she was asked to leave because of her poor behaviour. Cognitive behaviour therapy may have helped but again, willingness to change would have been the key to success and she refused to acknowledge that.
I had been doing what I could to reach out to my mom but only a little. I was easily drawn in to her manipulations and would get hurt over and over. So I was keeping contact minimal and on my terms. When I did see or talk to her I was pleasant, smiling, accepting and kind. But I also held back from giving her too much. I kept thinking that I should do more for her or be closer to her but then I knew I would become her anchor and I wasn't ready for that kind of commitment.
My mom before the slip on the ice was my best friend while I was a teen and young adult. While she didn't fit into society neither did I, and it gave me comfort to know that I wasn't alone. I could talk to her about anything, and truly be myself because whatever judgment she handed down I was raised with and therefore accustomed to. It wasn't until her first suicide attempt that I realized our relationship was unhealthy for me. Her manipulation was put into sharp focus and I saw that I was being damaged by her behaviour. After several suicide attempts I became cold and hard to her, and only warmed up after my dad's death. And even then I was still frozen on the inside.
In her letter my mom said that my sisters and I hadn't ever forgiven her for her mistakes and that we would have forgiven our dad if she'd died first. Thanks for the last dig there, mom. Please don't assume to know what I would have felt or done if things had been different. My response is only that you cannot treat people poorly and have them still be available to you when you want.
I miss the mom I used to have. I miss her intelligence and humor. I miss her perception of the world, I miss having someone to talk to that understood me completely. I miss the feeling of acceptance she gave me. I miss feeling like at least one person knows what it's like to be on the outskirts of society. I don't miss the way she took all of that and created a prison for me where she let me think she was the only person in the world that could understand. That the world outside of our family was difficult, improper, hard and...wrong. The mom I miss died a decade ago when she hit her head. Her final death throes just took ten years.