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Broken Mirrors

I started my New Year having nightmares about my mother.

In the nightmare, she pulled me aside into a room of shattered mirrors. Once we were alone, the innocent, sweet look on her face twisted into a sinister, demonic smile of razor sharp teeth. Without warning, she hit me on the head as hard as she could. Her face reverted back to normal before going back into the presence of others. I could clearly see the red, bloody lump she left in the reflection of broken mirrors, but realized that I was the only one that could when I left the room to show others what she had done. No one believed me and she feigned a victim-like innocence at the accusation that she had left an obvious injury no one else could see.

If that isn’t a perfect metaphor for what it’s like to deal with the effects of emotional and mental abuse, then I don’t know what is.

By all logic, I should be okay. I recognize that her behavior was abuse and why it was abuse. I know that her behavior was unhealthy and inappropriate. I know what happened to me wasn’t my fault.  I don’t engage with her at all so she can’t manipulate me anymore. I am happier without her in my life. I’m doing a billion times better without her.

But I’m not okay.

I still occasionally run into people who are blissfully unaware that my mother is a monster that I have no relationship with and ask me how she is doing.

I sometimes look in the mirror and worry if those same people that ask about my mother are right when they also say “You look so much like her!” Because of this, I occasionally feel the need to look at myself through a photo filter that makes you look a man because they always make me look exactly like my dad.  

I have horrible nightmares about her that wake me up in the middle of the night in a panic.  

I’m still trying to rebuild relationships with family I was cut off from thanks to my mother and I almost lost my best friends because of her manipulation. Some relationships I won’t be able to rebuild because they have since died (or in one grandma’s case, they have sided with my mother.) 

I struggle with enjoying Christmas partly because it’s a holiday about family and I feel so awkwardly disconnected from mine.

Mother’s Day is miserable knowing that I was birthed by the human equivalent of a Disney stepmother that acts like a Princess that can talk to cute animals when others are around to keep up appearances while everyone else at the very least got a decent mother that didn’t screw up their brains.

Sometimes I’ll get weird little reminders out of the blue and it can derail my whole day. One time I was feeling really good at work and just cheerfully scanning a customer’s items when I saw they were buying the same brand of turtle chocolates I used to buy for her because I wanted to make her happy. No matter how much I told myself “They’re just chocolates and nothing more”, I still fell into a depressed slump anyways.

I still see her in the store from a distance giving that sweet, innocent, stupid smile to hide the fact she’s a terrible person and an even worse mother. Even underneath the facemask, I can still see it because of the way her eyes squint upwards and the way her cheekbones move. She gets to live her life happy and healthy and unpunished as if she didn’t have a daughter—let alone a daughter she fucked up mentally that’s still dealing with the damage she left almost a decade later.

Am I ever going to be okay or am I permanently damaged like the shattered mirrors in my nightmare?

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