There was a time I idealized her. She wore campaign shimmering eye shadow across her eyelids. She drew on black eyeliner that defined the beauty in her brown eyes. Her mascara was painted on her eyelashes; they looked like they were waving when she blinked her eyes. Her blush and lipstick always applied so it naturally enhanced the softness in her features. She dressed to impress with a strong sense of confidence. She was so glamorous then.
She always told us that we could have anything we ever wanted. That hard work does pay off. That we needed to believe in our-self and to go out in the world and work hard for the life we wanted. That respect was not given, it was earned. That life was not easy and to never accept anything less than we deserved. She said that she lived and breathed for her children. That she would always be there for us. The woman she was during this stage in my life, will always hold a dear place in my heart. Her influences also, taught me so much more than she will ever realize. Now looking back I think she did everything she could do during this period with what she had available.
When you are young, you look at the people you love through innocent goggled eyes. The virtuous thing about being a child is that you don’t know any better and the world is simply pure. One day we learn the differences between right and wrong, the innocence leaves us and we began to grow up.
I will never forget when I looked at her differently for the first time. It was sad and in that little moment the pure innocent love was gone. It was replaced with a sorrowful pity that I did not yet fully understand. I can remember how badly she judged herself when she questioned how someone else perceived her. How she would play her role in public to conceal her true thoughts and feelings. She was always so concerned with how other peopled viewed her. She looked for confirmation and self-worth based on a character role that she displayed. Never really ever learning how to love herself.
I can remember the first time I felt anxiety for her well-being. Too many times to count, I found her drunk and asleep behind the wheel in our driveway. I would help her into the house, get her cleaned up and put her to bed, all before the school bells would ring in the morning. I can remember the tension in the air as we would enter the front door of the house after school wondering what kind of mood she would be in. Never knowing if we would get a verbal lashing over a dirty house, or a happy-go-lucky women full of life. Other times, she would stay hidden for days locked away in the darkness of her room. I can remember the first time I seen her chewing her lips as she tried to speak. Her words would roll off her tongue in a slurred, uncomprehending, bundled mess. I can remember how sad and upset she would get about the life she had lived.
What I saw in this vulnerable woman behind closed doors hidden to the world, shook me to the core. As the time passed and turned into years her illusion she portrayed became thinner and thinner. I can remember the first time I thought, I never wanted to be like her.
It took me a long time to realize that the woman she was and the woman she is now, is not the same person. That she had become a shell of the woman. She was the leftovers from the woman I knew and loved. I finally understood why my Nanny always told us that, “in order for other people to love you, you must learn to accept and love yourself first.” I didn’t understand what this meant for most of my life. Then out of the blue one day looking at her, the meaning hit me. Now looking at her from a mental picture in my head it makes me sad. I have forgiven her for the pain and hurt she caused us over the years. I see that what was left in her was a women broken, isolated, and depressed. A women that was also selfish, who had no remorse, acknowledgement or care about anything other than herself. She would never learn to take responsibility for her choices and nothing would ever be her fault.
It took me a long time to realize, that each and every time I needed her there for me, that I needed a women who no longer existed. That woman I knew was no longer living and now this woman is merely existing. It’s tragic to see her in this condition and that unfortunately it is not likely for her to change. You simply cannot help those who will not help theirself. No matter how hard anyone could try, her denial of addiction to substance abuse is stronger than us. It’s stronger than her love for us, stronger than our concern or love for her will ever be. For so long I have watched her addictions destroy her.
I will always love her, I forgave her and I pray everyday I end up nothing like her.