My family members tell me that when I was little, my mom refused to change my diaper. My dad did, sometimes, but usually my grandmother would. Even at a young age, my grandmother was stepping in to provide the support I needed, when my mom wouldn’t dare to do so.
My mom made me cry a lot when I was little. Almost every day. I remember all the little mistakes I made, the endless missteps of an inexperienced toddler, always met with a sharp hand or stinging words. I don’t think I would have survived if it hadn’t been for my grandmother, who has lived with my family since the day I was born.
Every time my mother abused me, I would run to my grandmother. I would hold in my screams, tears trailing down my face, and just collapse and cry and wish I wasn’t born. I vividly recall screaming that I wish I was dead, over and over, as my grandmother consoled me and kept me from falling off the brink of despair. It’s safe to say that I did not appreciate her as much as I should have – if it hadn’t been for her constant compassion and patience, I may have committed an act I wouldn’t have been able to take back.
If it hadn’t been for my grandmother’s example, I could have ended up exactly like my mom.
Yesterday, my grandparents moved out. It was not an easy process. For the last few years, my mom has been tormenting them, even as they became weaker and weaker – my grandfather, barely able to hear, and my grandmother, who has Parkinson’s disease and was recently hospitalized. I don’t know why my mom terrorized them, similar as to how I don’t know why she terrorizes me. Perhaps she has a repressed psychological issue. Perhaps she’s simply emotionally unbalanced.
Either way, they’re gone. I’m sincerely glad they have left. No one should be forced to live the few remaining years of his or her life constantly in fear. No one should have had to go through what they went through, for such a long period of time.
But now I’m alone. When my grandparents were here, my mom would keep her distance from me when they were around. Yes, she would hit, she would scream, but I always had someone to turn to. I had someone to ebb my tears, to tell me it would be okay when I wanted to give up and go under.
Today, I visited my grandparents in their new condo. It was cozy, comfortable, and most importantly, empty of my mother’s presence. They were happy, and I was happy that they were happy.
The first question my grandmother asked me after I arrived was, “Did she scream at you?”
Followed by, “Did she hurt you?”
I smiled and shook my head. My grandmother’s face softened and I could tell she felt relief. She proceeded to offer me grapes, strawberries, and everything else in her new kitchen. I laughed, and pushed back the growing pit inside of my stomach.
And yet, here I am, by myself. My mom could come into my room at any moment and tear me apart. She could accuse me of being gay for wanting to wear the clothes that she threw away, she could look at the books I read and bite my head off for putting such trash in my mind, she could do anything and everything to put me down.
But I can’t let that stop me. I know, about twenty miles away, my grandmother is sitting on her new sofa, hoping and praying that I’m alright. She’s wishing that my mom won’t lay another hand on me until I leave for college, that she won’t bring me to tears before I can get away for good.
The thought of my grandmother worrying about me hurts me more than all of the possible poisonous and painful things my mom could do to me. That after all of these years – all those times she kept me alive – she still is unsure of my safety, of my well-being, of my ability to prosper.
I can’t let her down. I am gay, I do read weird books, and I have an uncountable amount of flaws. But no matter what my mother says to me or does to me, I am strong. Maybe by writing this post and publishing it to the world, my grandmother will somehow feel a sense of security, a sense that I have learned from her and will be okay without her.
A sense that, after seventeen years, I am unafraid.