Why You Won’t Get A Mother’s Day Card: An Open Letter To My Mom
I wanted to let you know you won’t be getting a card this year for Mother’s Day. There are plenty of reasons. Here are a few.
You play favorites with my brother and me. He has been and always will be your favorite. I don’t know why this is, but it hurts. When I need help, you brush me off and tell me to figure it out on my own. I am only twenty-one and I am now finding my footing in the real world. It’s unrealistic to expect me to not need help with housing or money at this age. My brother is the same age, and when he needs help you rush to his aide. You justify this by saying we’re different people and need different things. But I have a severe mental illness: schizoaffective disorder, bipolar, and anxiety. Every second of every day I hear voices that feel real but aren’t. I can’t go out in public without fearing a mental breakdown and panic attack. My brother has a high functioning form of autism. His symptoms are trouble focusing and reading body language. I have always envied my brother because of the special treatment and extra love and help that he got.
I remember the time he had an internship at a local radio station. He had to be at the internship at ten in the morning and both you and Dad were working. You asked me to drive him. I said no because I was in a bout of depression and had been sleeping until one or two in the afternoon. I couldn’t deal with you picking fights all day and couldn’t force myself to get up and do the things I needed to do. Thinking about getting out of bed and having to face the world exhausted me. I didn’t have the mental or physical energy to deal with anyone or anything. Sleeping was my way of coping. You should understand. You slept through almost every afternoon due to your depression. We weren’t allowed to bother you when you slept 36 hours. When you asked me to drive him, I didn’t want to make a promise I couldn’t keep. But you didn’t understand. Instead, you retaliated by telling me that having a car and a license was a privilege and that I could take the bus. When I asked why my brother couldn’t take the bus your exact words were, “End of conversation.”
Remember the last time I went to visit you? We had a meaningful talk. You sat, listened, and nodded as I explained my feelings. I explained how disheartened and upset I was that you pay for most of my brother’s tuition plus one thousand dollars a month for his housing. You only give me two hundred dollars per month. Those two hundred dollars goes straight to Grandma for rent. I need to get a job to buy anything of my own. I am responsible for buying my clothes, shoes, toiletries, medicine, and all other expenses. The only thing I don’t pay for is food. But getting a job is impossible for me because of severe social anxiety. That doesn’t even include the voices I hear on a constant basis. Being schizophrenic makes it hard to “act normal” in public places. It causes me a lot of stress trying to do so. After three months it gets to the point where I am so overwhelmed that I can’t function at the job or in everyday life. I end up going to the hospital. This happened at all three jobs I have held. So far, every job I have taken has had a 100 percent success rate in making it impossible for me to function. It’s not a phase. It will continue to happen.
One day, driving home from the psych ward after a stint for suicidal thoughts due to job-related stress, I asked you if I could stay with you for a while. You told me, “Now that you are eighteen I am no longer legally obligated to take care of you. At all.” You still paid thousands of dollars for my brother’s college and housing while you were paying nothing for me. All of my college loans are in my name. None of it is under yours.
I also mentioned how Hurricane Irma damaged our roof and Grandma doesn’t have the money and can’t get a loan to pay for a new one. How my room was pouring rain through the ceiling. How it was unlivable and taxing on my mental health. I asked if I could stay with you until Grandma sold the house. You said no. I felt angry and betrayed that my mother wouldn’t even help me when I didn’t have a habitable place to live. But I tried to stay calm. I asked if you would help me by paying for an apartment for a few months. You said you wouldn’t want me living in a bad neighborhood. I appreciated the concern. But I don’t understand why you wouldn’t help pay for me moving into a good neighborhood at eight-hundred dollars per month, especially while you are paying over a thousand dollars for my brother each month. I asked if I could have more money and you responded that you were saving for retirement.
So, I applied for disability. Dad said it was a cop out and I was being lazy. But I mentioned I could not keep a job for more than three months due to my schizophrenia. You don’t care. I argued with Dad, defending my choice. You came in and yelled at me saying I was blaming you for all my problems. You used every vulnerability I ever mentioned and turned them against me. You devalued my opinion when you said, “I’m sure you think it’s unlivable to be in that house,” referring to the house where rain pours through the ceiling. I asked if you had ever lived in a house like that. You said no, but you were sure it wasn’t as bad as I was making it out to be. This made me feel like you didn’t care. I would rather live in a bad neighborhood in a habitable home than have my room flood every time it rains.
One day I realized I wasn’t going to college because I wanted a Creative Writing degree. I was doing it for you. You expected me to get a degree. I decided not to go to school anymore. I stood up for myself and told you my reasons for quitting school. You told me you wouldn’t continue to give me money if I wasn’t in school. You don’t care that I can’t keep a job for very long. You don’t care that if you stop paying me, I can’t pay Grandma rent. You don’t care that if I stop paying Grandma rent she won’t be able to pay her bills. You don’t care that if Grandma can’t pay her bills, I will be homeless. It ripped my heart out like a Mayan ritual. You stomped all over it like a thousand Clydesdales in an endless parade. It breaks my heart that you don’t seem to care about me.
If I were homeless, would you care?
You told me that you wouldn’t let me stay with you because I was messy. I am not as messy as you. In the eight months I have been in Florida, you have filled my room with your crap up to the ceiling. You are a hoarder, and you dare call me messy? You said I am manipulative. Well, where did you think I learned that from? You said I am too persistent with things I want and won’t take no for an answer. At least I am driven to make something more of myself and to follow my dreams. You said it’s for your mental health that you won’t help me. What about my mental health? You don’t want the responsibility of taking care of me. However, you still want to control my life. You want to make me get a degree I don’t want or force me to get a job instead. Getting a job will make me miserable and land me in the hospital again. I will want to die because my mental health will deteriorate to a point where I am ready to give up the life you gave me. As I said, it has happened before and it will happen again.
Do you care about me at all?
I told you it felt like you didn’t care about me and you’re only response was, “You can think that.” This is the same exact thing you complain about with your mother. You complain about Grandma all the time. You say she wasn’t supportive of you and that when you asked her if she cared, she said, “I don’t know what you mean.” You tell this story to anyone that will listen. And then you turn around and do the exact same thing to me? You’re a hypocrite, and you refuse to see it.
I know you don’t have a good relationship with Grandma, but she has been a Godsend to me. She has given me the love, care, and help that I needed while still treating me like an adult. She doesn’t want to control my life. She doesn’t shirk the responsibility of taking care of me, unlike you. She teaches me how to be responsible: something you have yet to learn.
What it all boils down to is that I will cut you out of my life. Every time I let you in you hurt me more. I am tired of getting hurt. I am tired of you forcing me to make the decisions you want me to make. I keep letting you have control over me. I’m tired of allowing you to back me into a corner. If you want me to be an independent adult so badly, then I will. I’ll start by making the adult decision to cut you out of my life. That way I can make my own choices without you guilt tripping me or trying to exert control over me.
Living with you has taught me a lot, though. I don’t want to be like you. This thought gave me the motivation to be a better person and to face my faults, even if I am scared. It gave me the strength to face criticism. I learned how to be true to myself when others attack me. I gained perseverance in the face of adversity. You taught me that life is not fair. I can wish that it was, but because of you, I do not expect things to always go my way. It taught me to not back down on issues that are important to me. You taught me that I don’t want the kind of attention you crave. Living with you taught me to be stubborn and to always go for my dreams, no matter what anyone says.
I have accomplished a lot in the eight months I have been living with Grandma. For starters, I received all A’s and B’s in school. I created a personal schedule and stuck to it. I exercise every day. I created a support system of people to talk to about my mental health. I am focusing on my writing, and I joined Coffee House Writers and Functionally Fictional as a contributor. I started my own blog. I wrote a 40,000-word manuscript: the longest piece I have ever written. I made exceptional progress in forgiving myself for mistakes. I made it a whole year without ending up in the hospital. Compared to six hospitalizations from 2015 to 2017, I’d say that is what I am most proud of.
Grandma has treated me like an adult. Instead of telling me what to do she gives me questions to consider. She lets me make my own decisions. She tells me if she has a problem with me and how I can fix it. She encourages me to get out of my comfort zone. She is honest about her intentions and never uses my words against me. She gives me reading assignments to help me face my problems and grow as a person. She is always honest about what she wants and what she thinks. She encourages me to do the same. She teaches me ways to look at life I would never have thought of. “Life is full of adventures,” she says, “but no one promises they’ll be good.” She has all sorts of wisdom that she shares with me. She sets boundaries with me and I respect them. She respects it when I set boundaries with her. She tells me when I am acting in a childish way and helps me identify these thought patterns. She tells me when I am not taking responsibility for my actions and teaches me to do so. She is changing the way I think, see, and interact with the world. And I can’t thank her enough.
You can bet Grandma will get a Mother’s Day card. She’s been more of a mother to me than you have and ever will be.