but I really can’t write about them properly without writing about my past and my childhood generally, and every time I consider the proposition I hear my mother’s voice in my head, warning me that if I ever wrote about her, I’d better have the decency to wait until she was dead.
I could just write it “for myself” but of course I automatically think of everything I write in terms of reaching an audience outside myself. I’ve never written in a vacuum; I always kept my readers near and interacting with them is how writing became an addiction for me, I think.
I could write it (a memoir?) using a pseudonym, but that feels like more secret keeping. Not that I necessarily want everyone to know what this person or that person did to me—I’m not writing for revenge—but I do want people to know that I’m the one doing the writing.
Maybe online is my best bet. I can’t imagine my family not managing to find out that I’d published a book, but the internet mostly flies under their radar. I’m not sure what kind of format to use, though.
At no point in my life have I stopped writing. I babble in fiction and reflective non-fiction. I’d just like to write what it would be convenient to write for once instead of whatever happens to come bubbling out of me.
I shall never get out of this! There are two of me now:
This new absolutely white person and the old yellow one,
And the white person is certainly the superior one.
She doesn’t need food, she is one of the real saints.
At the beginning I hated her, she had no personality—
She lay in bed with me like a dead body
And I was scared, because she was shaped just the way I was
Only much whiter and unbreakable and with no complaints.
I couldn’t sleep for a week, she was so cold.
I blamed her for everything, but she didn’t answer.
I couldn’t understand her stupid behavior!
When I hit her she held still, like a true pacifist.
Then I realized what she wanted was for me to love her:
She began to warm up, and I saw her advantages.
Without me, she wouldn’t exist, so of course she was grateful.
I gave her a soul, I bloomed out of her as a rose
Blooms out of a vase of not very valuable porcelain,
And it was I who attracted everybody’s attention,
Not her whiteness and beauty, as I had at first supposed.
I patronized her a little, and she lapped it up—
You could tell almost at once she had a slave mentality.
I didn’t mind her waiting on me, and she adored it.
In the morning she woke me early, reflecting the sun
From her amazingly white torso, and I couldn’t help but notice
Her tidiness and her calmness and her patience:
She humored my weakness like the best of nurses,
Holding my bones in place so they would mend properly.
In time our relationship grew more intense.
She stopped fitting me so closely and seemed offish.
I felt her criticizing me in spite of herself,
As if my habits offended her in some way.
She let in the drafts and became more and more absent-minded.
And my skin itched and flaked away in soft pieces
Simply because she looked after me so badly.
Then I saw what the trouble was: she thought she was immortal.
She wanted to leave me, she thought she was superior,
And I’d been keeping her in the dark, and she was resentful—
Wasting her days waiting on a half-corpse!
And secretly she began to hope I’d die.
Then she could cover my mouth and eyes, cover me entirely,
And wear my painted face the way a mummy-case
Wears the face of a pharaoh, though it’s made of mud and water.
I wasn’t in any position to get rid of her.
She’d supported me for so long I was quite limp—
I had forgotten how to walk or sit,
So I was careful not to upset her in any way
Or brag ahead of time how I’d avenge myself.
Living with her was like living with my own coffin:
Yet I still depended on her, though I did it regretfully.
I used to think we might make a go of it together—
After all, it was a kind of marriage, being so close.
Now I see it must be one or the other of us.
She may be a saint, and I may be ugly and hairy,
But she’ll soon find out that that doesn’t matter a bit.
I’m collecting my strength; one day I shall manage without her,
And she’ll perish with emptiness then, and begin to miss me.
(anon-ed by request) My mom is very emotionally abusive. And. Now she is threatening to turn off my phone and lock me out (she doesn’t care were I go) and I have literally no one and its becoming very hard to breath.
Ugh. Well, first of all, fuck her. That is wrong and awful. I don’t care what she thinks you’ve done to deserve it—no one gets permission to terrify their kid with the possibility of cutting off their ability to get outside help and then denying them shelter.
Second: it’s important to remember that threats are acts of abuse in themselves. She’s got you scared to death—that might be enough for her. My mom threatened to do a lot of stuff she never actually did. The threats were enough to keep me cowed.
On the other hand, she might be dead serious. The fact that she’s made the threat means she’s untrustworthy. It’s probably a good idea to make some emergency back up plans. When you say you’ve got no one—are you absolutely sure? Don’t think about it in terms of “is there anyone I trust to fix this.” Just ask yourself, “who would I trust to let me stay with them for a night or two?” If you really can’t think of a single friend, neighbor, or relative, there are public resources around—if you want help coming up with a plan, people can help you do that.
If you honestly think she’s going to put you out on the street with no other options, it might be time to consider going to a teacher. Being homeless sucks—I’ve done it, and I don’t recommend it.
Losing your phone would also suck massively, but it doesn’t have to mean that you’re entirely without communication. Go to a library and use their computers to post about your situation on Tumblr. Chances are good someone can raise you enough money to get a pay-as-you-go phone.
It is AWFUL that your mother is doing this and I wish I could tell her so myself. Just remember—she doesn’t have as much power over you as you feel like she does right now. You are rational, she is irrational. You already know that you see the world more clearly than she does. You have people who are on your side, and a platform for making your voice heard. She doesn’t get to abuse you in secret—you’ve got options she never planned for you to have.
(NB: you can track all questions and answers on the “ask an adult survivor” tag”)