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Memories of Heliotrope and Salon Coupons

Insomnia has been quite the bitch this week, which is saying a lot since I already don’t sleep the best. I maybe got 16 hours of sleep across three nights and I was having vivid nightmares whenever I did sleep. I could understand if I was particularly stressed and burned out or becoming overstimulated by late night gaming, but that wasn’t the case.

I believe I figured out the issue when I saw the big display of fresh cut flowers when I came into work on Thursday.

Fuck. Mother’s Day is this weekend. God-fucking-dammit.  

I had completely forgotten—honestly, I prefer to forget its existence on the calendar—but I’m positive my brain knew on a subconscious level. It would certainly explain the nightmares about my mother without having seeing her somewhere in public and then playing the game of trying to avoid crossing paths with her.

Much like Christmas, Mother’s Day is rough for me. Unlike Christmas, though, I do not find any aspect of Mother’s Day even mildly enjoyable. While everyone else around me is beaming about having the best mother ever, I am reminded that I was birthed by a monster. As I explained in my blog post on the matter, she wasn’t always a monster, but slowly evolved into one sometimes after being served divorce papers and gradually became more unstable on top of it as time went on. There were eventually two sides of her—the sweet and loving mother that doted on her daughter and the screaming banshee whose words would tear into my very soul. By the end of our relationship, I had more memories of the cruel and manipulative side than I did of her motherly side. Since she was able to switch between these two sides at will and put on a good show in front of company, some people that know her have expressed shock or doubt at the knowledge she was mentally and emotionally abusive towards me. That’s the thing about abusers though: they don’t typically mistreat everyone they come in contact with and that makes it so much harder for victims to come forward because they think no one would believe them.

But she was still my mother and I still loved her, which is why I tried doing nice things for her—especially on Mother’s Day.

Right before Mother’s Day one year, she enthusiastically described a flower she wished she could find. “It has purple flowers that smell like vanilla!” She hadn’t specifically asked for it for Mother’s Day and was just somehow brought up in casual conversation, but I looked through the four garden centers in town to find the plant in question. My excitement intensified upon finding a plant tag for “heliotrope” on a plant with a cone-shaped cluster of tiny amethyst flowers that did indeed smell like vanilla. It was about five or six dollars, which was a lot of money for me at the time as I didn’t have regular work, but I bought it anyways because it was for my mother. I planted it in one of the unplanted flower beds that lined the mobile home we rented. She appreciated it in the moment, but soon lost interest.

Another year, I cleaned carpets for a friend of the family to earn some money to get her some things for Mother’s Day. I made a card with a hand cut image of a rose that was backed with some pricey red metallic paper from the scrapbooking store. I bought her turtles; her favorite chocolates. But the main gift was a wooden half barrel planter with beautiful flowers I had carefully selected and planted myself to create a stunning display that I was proud of hoped she would love. Like the heliotrope, she appreciated it in the moment, but soon lost interest. I’ll never forget later seeing that expensive wooden half barrel in the middle of summer full of dry and dead plants.  

The one year that sticks out was the last Mother’s Day I did anything of significance for her. A local salon was having a Mother’s Day contest on Facebook for a prize of about $300 worth of services. You had to make a post on their Facebook wall about why your mother should win and the one with the most likes would get the prize. I made the post and begged my Facebook friends to like or comment on the post, but I didn’t have enough friends that noticed or the clout to win. The salon was so impressed with the number of entries that they decided to send out half off coupons for all the services included in the prize to both the mother and the child that made the entry. Mother was initially grateful and happy, but later accused me of only entering her in the contest just to get the discount for myself despite the fact that I paid for her services and the salon had announced the coupons after the contest was over. It certainly wasn’t the first or last time I was accused of some “ulterior motive” for doing something nice for her.

I fucking hate seeing that display of Mother’s Day bouquets every year because I am reminded of all the time I wasted trying to do something nice for the holiday for that monster I genuinely loved at one point. I only recently realized it’s the reason why I refuse to get anything beyond a store bought card for the mother figures in my life for Mother’s Day despite them being nowhere near as horrible as my birth mother. I probably wouldn’t even buy the cards if I didn’t feel some sort of self-forced obligation to.  

Today was particularly terrible for my anxiety as management pulled me from door duty to do my actual job of cashiering, which meant almost every customer I rang up either had those Mother Day bouquets or Mother’s Day cards. I’m thankful we’re required to wear facemasks at work so I didn’t have to put a shit eating grin on display as I rang up obvious Mother’s Day items for mothers that are probably awesome enough to be worthy of the gifts. After a few hours of this, my hands were shaking from memory induced panic. It was fucking awful and exhausting.

I would have thought after 10 years of not doing anything for the bitch that things would get easier, but I still have nightmares and reminders of memories that trigger my anxiety.

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