Rifle

I found this video of Sinead O’Connor on Dr. Phil quite by mistake. I was looking for her singing a certain song to help me connect to who I was when when I was young, first living on my own in a very large city–Houston. Upon listening to this interview, I felt surprised to hear her say that she never healed her childhood wounds until the moment she was on his show. In fact, what surprised me even more was that she was abused to the degree she describe….by her own mother.

I remember reading about her reaching out desperately for help. Was this last year? I feel that it’s so easy to tune out people who are in crisis, even if they are a celebrity, or an artist. I am one of them.  It’s uncomfortable for me to see someone in pain; reaching out, trying to garner attention. That’s what it felt like to me when I saw her on the news or some other medium….attention. So, I turned her off and put her out of my mind.

This is a coping mechanism from the years I spent with my mother. As a girl, I witnessed her behaving in crazy ways from the prescriptions pills the doctors willingly prescribed her. Was she really depressed, or bored as other housewives described in the song The Rollings Stone’s sang so colorfully in ‘Mother’s Little Helper? Did she just wish to pass the time away?

It seemed her suicide mission began with those pills, or did it happen when she downed them with booze. I’m surprised she did not die in this way. Clearly, It was her intention.

When you don’t take the time to heal your childhood before you have kids, or at least during those childrearing years, all the shit you’ve wanted to suppress just keeps popping up. The pain destroys your psyche, your body, or both.

There is an exercise Dr. Phil has Sinead O’Connor doing, and I would like to do this for my own self. I think I will give it a try. But, instead I am inspired to write about things that I never really gave my self permission to do, or at least in a long time.

***********

My mom was not there for me when I needed her. She drank too much and took too many pills. Nate and I would come home from school and there would be this note on the counter. We’d open it up and we knew it was a suicide note. We would go up stairs, stand outside her door and I could hear the air conditioner blowing. It was always ice cold in her room. Once we found the courage to open the door, we’d see her on her side, back towards us, her dark hair rolled with toilet paper and bobby pins to keep her hair-do a little longer. She’d have a pillow between her legs, pink ear flints (Our old cat was a Tom, whom we called Pierre because of his tux like black and white markings. He would jump up on the night stand when they weren’t in use and make off with them like they were something special) in her ear and a black silk eye mask covered her eyes.

The drill: Nate would shake her and she would suddenly flinch, which scared me because I thought she was dead. That was what the note said. This happened many, many times. It happened so much, that you learn not to believe the note. You learn not to have a reaction to it because what the note said always turned out to be a lie. So, I stopped having emotions to every single drama she had. I stopped believing her and feeling sorry for her.

When I was around 11, or maybe younger, she crossed lines with me sexually. She showed me how to do things sexually and with certain contraptions. This thing was very dirty and unhygienic. Regardless, it soon became a shameful obsession of mine.

One day, I showed one of my best friends how to do it and she said she did not want to do what I was showing her. I felt embarrassed and we left my mother’s bedroom. I never brought it up again.

I mentioned this memory to one of my sisters recently and she validated some of my experiences. My mother had showed her some ways to masturbate too. It is not so great to have a validation like this, but it also makes you realize that no, I was not alone. This effected me, because it sexualized me in a inorganic way.

**********

My parents had blow out fights. My dad would bust open the bedroom door, they would literally strangle each other, my mom was strong and mean as hell when she would drink. In fact, she reminded me Liz Taylor in ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’

I am. I am.

One night, my parents had just gotten home from downtown Detroit. My mother’s sister had committed suicide. Not that this explains why she ended her life, but she was divorced, had a child, and lived with my grandparents. She was in her 50’s, so that may have been humiliating and did not see how to move forward. Who knows.

When she was younger, my aunt was another brunette knockout in the family. Her body was found in the Detroit River. Everyone in my family went to this ordeal. She had committed suicide.

I don’t know when my parents found the time to drink, get roaring  drunk; both of them. By the time they had gotten home, my parents were fighting like mad. Doors were slamming. Mom locked her bedroom door. My dad was beating on it to get her to open it up. There was a lot of screaming.

Us kids tried to go to bed, but, there is a point when you hear so much commotion, you think as a kid, okay, my parents are going to kill each other. So, we better get out of bed to see what is happening. Maybe, just maybe we can stop it.

This is what we witnessed. My mom was naked. She was on the bed, standing over our dad. She was holding a rifle and was aiming it at my him. No one really knows why. We talked about this scene at dinner after Nate’s funeral. One brother did not remember our mom naked. Others did. My dad had to be driven to the hospital because my mom threw something hard like a lamp or a glass bottle like Bristol shaving cream at his head. My siblings could not agree if that scene was different then the rifle scene.

So, when I first saw this movie I was like, oh god, that was the essence of mom. She knew how to belittle my dad, humiliate him with her spiteful words. And, my dad knew how to make a good comeback and they would go back and forth bickering.

How fitting that there is a rifle in this scene from the movie, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”