I have no idea what she was yelling about. There I stood, my six-year-old self, frozen in the doorway. Terrified. Angry. Defiant. I hated when she screamed at me like that. I waited for it to pass. Jaw clenched. Teeth grinding. Fists closed tight against my sides… Her caustic words, thrown like piercing daggers, impaled my heart and soul, yet my mind refused to comprehend them.
Instinctively, I looked up and ducked as I saw a storm of sharp, orange plastic rain drops pelt down around me. The maverick mug had been obliterated, but thankfully, not my head.
In that moment, I silently vowed that I would NEVER be like my mother and constructed an impenetrable wall around my heart. I disconnected myself from any and all emotions that reminded me of her behavior. Consequently, I detached from all the good emotions, too.
I became the enforcer at home. I took responsibility for keeping Mom happy, an impossible task. She worked outside the home and gave us kids jobs to keep the house clean. I always did mine first thing after school. I'd spend the rest of the afternoon trying to force Jon and Cam (and sometimes Jada) to complete their tasks before Mom came home.
My self-imposed mission caused a lot of fighting amongst siblings and usually resulted in me deciding to pull double, triple, or quadruple duty. I thought if the house looked perfect, Mom wouldn't get upset about things. I always blamed myself when it didn't work out. Failed again!
THE FANTASTIC MASK
When I was in high school, Mom thought that I should go in for some counseling. I was plagued with lethargy and just wasn't happy.
I wanted help. I was tired of feeling on the dumpy side of even-kill all the time. So I went. It was a joke. How could an educated, trained professional be so blind!? I was crying on the inside, but she saw nothing. She told my mother I was perfectly happy and healthy.
That's when I realized how fantastic a mask I wore! I had millions of friends, but none of them knew me. All fooled by my jest. What was I to do, but to carry on the charade?
Sometimes we have to go through hell to understand what happiness is. My hell was marriage to an emotionally and verbally abusive man, who thought it was good therapy to yell at his wife, in addition to chucking objects at her. Luckily, he had poor aim.
The relief and peace I felt after leaving such a miserable situation was incredible! I started noticing I could feel light and happy emotions in contrast to the heavy, oppressive ones I was so accustomed to… I felt like something inside me was waking up—I wasn't so numb anymore!
Ever since that experience, I've been on an odyssey to achieve greater and greater happiness. I'm learning to understand the purpose and blessing of opposition in all things.
Ironically, through it all, I've had my mother to look up to as an example. I watched the transformations as she sought to overcome her depression and bipolar disorder. Truly, it ends with her, because of her staunch faith and unsinkable determination. Her story is incredible and courageous!
Everybody is doing the best they know how with what they have to work with. I'm grateful for the constant hand of God, shaping my life and my character.