I wish I could have back the mother who read to me when I was young. I want the comfort of feeling loved, without the baggage of feeling attacked or judged. I would like to be cared for solely due to who I am, separate from the consideration of my choices in life.
I am lucky to have a number of people who care about me. I have friends who, upon hearing I am feeling down, will contact me to see what they can do to cheer me up. I have loved ones who care for my well-being, and always have nice things to say to me. I have my paternal family, who invites me over often, and who will just spend time with me with no expectation beyond that. I have Jasper, who will curl up beside me, snuggling in his fur coat, always ready to comfort me in grey times. I have Katherine, who loves and takes care of me during good times or bad. I have my fiction, which takes me away from the world and allows me to self-modify my feelings for hours at a time upon demand.
But I don't have my grandmother, who died too quickly, and perhaps without knowing how much I appreciated her. And I don't have my mother, who cared once about me for no reason other than that I was her son, but who now cannot speak to me without bringing up horrors of the past. Thirteen years ago, when I last saw her, it was for just a few days. I was planning to move across the country on a Sunday, but on Saturday morning she changed her mind and kicked me out a day early. She called the police, who showed up not knowing the situation, which meant that when I stupidly bent down to put on my shoes when they asked me to go outside, the result was a gun pointed directly at my body, with the safety turned off. I talked my way out of it, as I always have been able to do, but how easily might I have been killed in that moment? Or arrested, with my unique name placed online, so that any who googled me would see it? How differently would my life have turned out had that occurred?
I don't trust my mother to just be loving with me. The last time I gave her my phone number in the hopes of reconciliation was eleven years ago; by the next day that mobile phone had dozens of incoming spam calls each day. I had to turn it off within a week. I don't know why or how she would do such a brazenly strange thing to me, but I learned to never give her my phone number again.
Ten years ago, I received a message from my uncle, who told me that no one in my maternal family cared for me any longer, and that I should never contact them again. I don't know if he said this on his own, or if it came from my mother. I have no reason to doubt either possibility. But it convinced me to leave well enough alone, and I have ever since.
My only contact since then has been my sister, who lives in Alabama still, and sees my mother regularly. I tried desperately to cultivate a relationship with her in good faith, but outside of occasional visits, she does not spend time with me. She does not take calls, or play games, or interact with me at all. I don't know why this is so. She acts as though she cares when I see her in person, for a few days each year. But that is all I get -- and perhaps that is all I deserve from that part of my family.
I am lucky to have so many friends and family here. It is perhaps too much to also ask that I have a relationship with my mother. I am too scared to even try, because it would not be worth it if all my mother had to say to me was harsh words. I don't know how to love as others say they do. I don't grok the idea of 'unconditional love', as though that were a good thing. I'm also unable to identify with the pst the way that others do; to me, my life is the life that here and now, not the life I held when I was young and stupid. Today, I do what I can to be a source for good in the world, and I do not identify as the person who cared not for the world back then. We share memories, but we are not one. So it is not worth it if I gain some small amount of displayed affection when I also have to accept condemnation for a past I no longer even agree with.
I wish at least that I could have memories of the reading my mother did with me. Reading that she must have done. There's no way that I could have learned to read so quickly had she not read to me. But when I look back in my own memories, the memories I share with past selves who did not respect memory, those happy moments which I know must be there are instead obscured. All I can catch in the cloudy mist are snippets of a sharp tongue: beratings for choices that past self made, yelling at me for a lack of subservience, turning her back to show her displeasure. My search for happy memories is successful only in the meta; knowledge that certain things had to have occurred, memories of watching VHS tapes long since lost which showed what was supposedly me, smiling. But actual memories? Direct, non-meta, honest-to-goodness images in my own head are all unreliable at best. I remember events that did not happen. Impossible occurrences that must have only existed in my imagination. I remember childhood friends who may or may not have been imaginary friends. I recall wishing wells that always worked; trips to an aunt's house that never happened. The first real memories I can truly count on are from a time when that relationship with my mother was already broken. Light bulbs removed, so I could not read; breaking confidences that harmed me socially. At best, I find faint praise in small snippets, always of the thing I am sick of: my brain. Or flashes of neutral experiences: sitting, bored, while she did something on a computer in a car lot.
What I want, maybe, is selfish. New memories, where it can just be a mother and a son, with what I imagine is a pulsing emotive feeling shared. No information need even be exchanged; just a hug would be sufficient. But (1) that can't happen, not without also bringing discord into my life that I've long since pushed past, and (2) it is extraordinarily selfish of me. No thought here is given to what she may want. I honestly have no idea what that might even be. It has been too long since I've communicated with her at all, let alone communicated in a way that wasn't her being accusatory to me. A mere thirteen years since we spoke last, compared to maybe 19 or 20 years since I last remember her saying something actually positive to me, without an undertone of accusation. And (3): just because a relationship could be repaired does not mean that it should be repaired. It would be wrong for me to attempt reconciliation with many of my past relationships that did not end well. Perhaps it is the same with my mother. I may yearn for that comfort of feeling loved, without the baggage of feeling attacked or judged, but if it causes stress or discomfort to her, then it is not worth it. I no longer wish for anyone to feel pain at my expense. Not to the extent that I believe it would cause her.
If I were to die soon, at least let it be known that I cared enough to not cause even more undue suffering. I am not that person who once was; I am me, and I do my best to atone for those ancestors.