Confessions of a Frustrated Co-Dependent

WARNING: Confessions of a frustrated co-dependent. Things a child, no matter how old, should ever have to go through.

My mother told my sister last week, “Tell Teri to go to hell and I never want to see her again.” Obviously, intoxicated. This was a result of my discovering she was using a younger family member to drive her to the grocery (where there is a liquor store) and I informed that family member’s parent.

Two days ago she advised a family member she would be “drinking herself to death”. Same old story I’ve heard since I was a kid. Drunken slurs told to me as a child like, “Teri, this life does not matter. I want to be with Jesus. I just want to die. Death is beautiful. If you died I would celebrate. How lucky would that be.” A child. Being told by her mother that she would celebrate her child’s death.

I used to wake up and find my mother standing over me with a butcher knife in her hand. Her eyes would be lifeless. As if she was staring through me. I would cry as silently as possible so as not to startle her. My little sister always found her way into my bed and would wrap herself around me. It was a comfort for both of us.

Today I sit here furious. And bitter. And sad.

She is on another “I haven’t eaten in 3 days. I am no longer taking my medications. I am only going to drink until I die” missions.

I called 911 two days ago when she first threatened to kill herself as we cannot get into her secured building. She turned them away. Today I called her doctor and was advised to have the police accompany the paramedics as they will force her to go with them for a psych eval. Her building social worker called to tell me, that even though she had a “huge bottle of vodka” sitting next to her and a glass filled with it, the police left without taking her. And no paramedics were with them.

So I just printed off the “instructions for filing an emergency guardianship” paperwork. It states a physician must appear before the magistrate in a hearing to justify it is necessary to avoid immediate harm to the ward. I cannot get her to a hospital as she refuses transport.

She cannot live on her own, per her doctor’s own words, but I cannot force her to move until she’s no longer competent enough to make the choice. Apparently the police think she’s still competent enough to decide.

Therefore, we sit and wait. For our mother to sober herself up. Or die.

No child should EVER have to go through this hell.

I lost my mind on the social worker. I snapped. I cried. I screamed, “I’m fucking done. Let her die.”

I’ve reached out so many times for help. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

Mom, her books, and booze

This is the lady I grew up with. A bottle of alcohol always next to her. She would come home from work and pour a drink and sit down to read. I learned early on to lock myself in my room and put my headphones on and escape into my music. If I approached her, she would slur at me, “Can’t I just relax for five minutes? Just leave me alone!” Or, if I approached with happy news, “Mom! Look! I got a 93% on my test.” (A 93 was still an A back in the 70’s) Her response, “A 93? A 93? God gave you a brilliant mind, Teri. And you are wasting it. Why wasn’t it a 100%? You are disappointing God. And me.” And I would turn away, once again, belittled and shamed. Shamed for not being good enough.

She tried to drown me in a bathtub when I was 4, holding my head underwater. She told me I would be happier with Jesus. Until my dad came in and sucker-punched her across the bathroom. She landed between the toilet and cabinet.

She tried to kill my dad with a butcher knife. But, he lifted a chair in time in front of him as protection to have the blade completely penetrate the wood seat. I witnessed her hauled off in handcuffs on that occasion. I was 4 or 5.

She beat my sister relentlessly. She didn’t like her and made it clear. I got to listen to the screams from behind a locked bathroom door where I would hide for hours until it was quiet again.

She told me I was frumpy and ugly and used to show my 7th grade photo to people and laugh about how ugly I was. I had braces and a unibrow and yes, pretty hideous, but really?

When I was in my 20’s (after the bank robberies) I dressed conservatively for business. She would laugh and call me, “Margaret Thatcher” and advise me I needed to brighten myself up so people would think I was happy.

Yet, I have fought and fought and fought for this lady’s love and approval my entire life. All I wanted was for her to love me and accept me.

I know my life motto is #nevergiveup, but damn is this a tough battle to keep fighting. Please pray for strength and answers as we move forward with guardianship. And that I keep my cool and not explode in frustration again. I’m starting to reach the end of my rope with this one.

Thank you 💔

The Beauty of a Broken Heart

When interviewing a recent podcast guest, the subject of everyday heroes in a child’s life came up. And their powerful impact of helping build resilience in the lives of vulnerable children.

I had 4. My Grandma Kitty. My 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Corken. And my BFF’s parents, Mr. & Mrs. Tonnies.

Today I want to share a story about that teacher. I don’t remember her classroom. Or what she taught me in that classroom. But I do remember her caring about me, asking if I was okay when I would cry in school, holding my hand when we would walk the halls, and inviting me to sit on the front porch of her little white house on Wayside Avenue.

I would walk the 3 blocks, crossing a busy road (in the same crosswalk where I saw a girl get hit by a car and killed a few years later when I was 10 . . . golly, 10 was a rough year!), just to spend time with this gentle soul.

I can’t remember her face. But I remember her heart.

She gave me this ceramic Holly Hobbie heart as a gift. I can’t recall why. My birthday maybe?

It reads “Happiness is having someone to care for”.

She told me to keep my treasures in it. For years it held a hand-written note from her and a key to a small cedar box I kept other notes in. To this day I treasure hand-written notes.

My dad threw something at me in a fit of rage soon after I received my gift. I ducked and it missed me, but shattered my heart. The ceramic one. And in some ways my own.

I cried silently as I glued the pieces back together. Somehow the top piece remained intact. I think it landed on my pillow.

I pulled this out of my memory box today after being reminded of Mrs. Corken during my podcast conversation. So incredibly symbolic of my life.

Jaz told me during our interview that survivors are like Kintsugi bowls . . . their breaks are repaired with gold so the scars make them beautiful. I read upon researching Kintsugi that “your scars and imperfections are your beauty”.

My little ceramic heart, glued back together, yet missing a piece I never found after that violent outburst, represents the beauty of my healing journey. Broken, then mended. Scarred, yet beautiful.

As are we all 💜

A gift from Mrs. Corken – 2nd grade