Everybody has emotional baggage. However, Mary had suitcases full:
- A rather far from normal upbringing of her own
- The death of her mother at a very young age
- Impaired memories and perceptions
- Drowning her sorrows in chemical substances, food or highs from emotionally abusing those around her
She was truly a case study for medical professionals.
My sister and I knew this was far from normal at an early age, which showed how mentally healthy we were. (Thanks Dad!)
Our dad tried to negate all the “Mother Drama” by providing us with a normal childhood, or at least as normal as possible considering the situation. He knew that if he took us with him as often as possible that we would be spared the craziness.
From trips to Taylorville, Sunday drives, and evenings with Dad, Abby and I had some real quality time with our nurturing parent. Taking his role seriously and providing us with memories that will last a lifetime, we know we were blessed.
An amazing trait that our dad had was that he didn’t talk about Mary in negative terms while we were growing up. He tried to lighten the mood by making light of some of her behaviors in a gentle but humorous manner.
When things got really bad he told us not to pay too much attention to her.
Even much later in life, decades after they divorced, Dad stayed true to this. At a family gathering the topic turned to the “good old days” as we shared a few stories of Mary’s raging glory. After listening to us laugh and bitch for a bit, Dad simply and very quietly said:
You have to remember that your mother had a lot of problems.
It was one of the most sympathetic, compassionate things we had ever heard.
Shortly after the divorce, my sister Abby felt she had no privacy at the habitat and discussed it with Dad. It was decided that he would install a lock on Abby’s bedroom door so she felt she could remove herself from the drama.
Mary had a huge meltdown (huge even by Mother’s twisted standards – think of Chernobyl) but Dad insisted and the lock was installed. Abby had the privacy she wished for and Mother was down one as to how many of us she could try to draw into her web of drama and despair.
Lesson learned: Unpack your emotional baggage at the door and throw away the suitcases!