My mom gave me a meth pipe for my birthday. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? If you knew the dynamic between us, this type of correspondence would spur no surprise. Strip away all the preconceived ideas, the truth about me, the truth about her, what our relationship was before and is now, and just picture a mother placing this vehicle to destruction in her daughter’s hands. It’s rather shocking and disgusting. Whether she was conscious of its symbolism or not is irrelevant. She could have and should have thrown it away. Rather, she placed it in the hands of her daughter, a woman she knows as a recovering drug addict.
At first, I did not think much of it. There was no wrapping paper or pretty bow. She didn’t kindly say “Happy Birthday” as she slipped me the case holding the already smoked out of glass pipe. She walked over to her armoire, turned around with her arm outstretched and handed me a sunglass case. She plainly said, “Here, this was in the basement among the belongings found after Dave died. I didn’t want you to find it up here and think it was mine. I thought you might know what it is.” So from that, it is clear this was all about her. She didn’t want me to find it and think she was smoking meth. Forget me. Forget the kids. Forget the man who died in her basement, our friend. This, as everything, was about her.
You see, this is classic behavior for my mother. She wants me to be sick. She needs me to be sick. She is actually mourning my health. She is emotionally incapable of feeling genuine happiness for me. She is too inept to even pretend. She tries. But it’s fake. I have known my mother for 39 years. There is not one shred of recognizable concern for me left inside her. Her grand kids? She loves them. That’s why I took them to her house on my birthday. To make her happy. To make them happy.
A few months ago, I went to visit her. My girlfriend was with me, which is the safest way to visit my mom. Here’s why. My mom was in the bathroom and hollered for me to bring her pain pills. “Melisa, it’s time for my oxycodone, they’re on the dining room table, can you bring them to me?” The addict in me was excited. Score! I’ll just slip a few in my pocket on my way down the hall. My girlfriend gets up like there is an eject button on the side of her chair and grabs the pills and heads down the hall toward the bathroom. Just then I hear my mom’s voice erupt like nails on a chalkboard, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I asked you to do that, I forgot you shouldn’t see those You’ll be tempted to take them.” You think? She purposely leaves her pills out for me to see. She asks me to pick up her prescriptions and then fakes a dramatic apology explaining how she forgot about the narcotics screaming my name from inside the bag.
This is one of the reasons I moved away. This is why I rarely answer my phone when the word “mom” lights up the screen. My mom is alone. She is ill in every sense of the word. I feel guilty because I am not there anymore to take care of her, but I need to remember her sickness is not my fault. She has no family to care for her. And she reminds me of that every time we talk. That is the pull she has on me. The button she knows to push. My mom cannot or will not, I am unsure which, comprehend why I can’t be around her anymore. During this process with my mom,I have learned what a boundary is, and that I need a firm one with her. She chooses to remain ignorant about what a boundary is and why we need them to be healthy individuals with functional relationships. She refuses to listen to my answer when she asks over and over, “Why have you done this to me?” She is a clearly a narcissist. A textbook case. I can check off every bullet point under the definition. This, of course, she denies coupled with a look on her face like I have just informed her the sky is neon yellow. I even emailed her a description of a narcissistic mother to which she scoffed. She’ll never get it. I need to stop trying to make her understand. Why do I continue to try and fix this? The difference between the past and the present is now I am healthy, so she can’t keep me sick. You cannot lock someone in the bathroom if they are in the kitchen. She needs me to need her, and I don’t anymore. This infuriates her. I am happy and she hates it. Sad isn’t it?
Years ago, she kept me around by handing me pain pills in exchange for doing her housework and running errands. She gave me what I wanted in exchange for what she wanted. She manipulated me. I thought I was just keeping a relationship with my mother, along with giving the gift of time with her grand kids. If I stopped taking the pills I would get sick, and god forbid she would have to go buy her own cigarettes, or stand in line at Costco for an hour. She used to call me at home and ask me to go to the store. “I am in too much pain, I just can’t leave the house.” She would say. So I would do it. We lived only 6 blocks apart. Funny, the store was actually closer to her. I look back and can’t believe she had me on such a short leash. This is a very sick woman we are talking about here, and I can’t help but live in fear of growing old to be just like her. Isn’t that what they say? “Look at a woman’s mother and you’ll see her in 30 years.” Well shit. That can’t happen. I’d rather die!
I think you get the basic dynamic of the relationship between my mother and I. Now back to the meth pipe. You see, years ago I was a crack smoker. Whether it matters, or I am just trying to make myself look better, I could easily walk away from the drug. It was my ex, with whom I used with, who was irrational and refused to put the pipe down. We are now divorced mainly due to his addiction and the nightmare lifestyle that accompanied it. Consequently, I don’t use anymore. Imagine that.
There is a furnished basement in my mother’s home. She rents it out for extra money. I lived there while finishing college. The last person to live there died a few months back. I got to know him. He helped my mom many times when her physical health was poor and I could not be there. He ran her errands and did all the things I used to do for her. He had Hepatitis C and was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. The cancer progressed quickly and he was gone in 6 months. Dave was alone. He had prostitutes and drug dealers coming and going. He payed the rent and my mother was in no shape to make him leave. He took care of her. He never stole from her. He was a good man.
I was able to go downstairs and visit Dave before he died. There was a hospice worker there. I couldn’t believe how quickly he deteriorated, so I’m sure the nurse didn’t appreciate the bottle of Rum I set next to him. It was his favorite and I snuck a smile out of him. So it was worth it. The apartment was a mess. It was clear drugs were being used down there. I wasn’t about to judge him. He was a friend. If I knew I was about to die, and I was alone, I might just get as high as I could too. Cancer is painful. One never knows until they reach that place.
My mother, being well aware of my past, is also well aware of my present efforts to better my future. She is manipulative and knows exactly what she is doing. Which is why this hurts so much. I have been thinking about this for the last two days, since it happened. My mom has told me about paraphernalia she has found, asking me what it could be, with honest intentions I believe, just out of curiosity to know what is going on in her own home. Understandable. My mom could not identify a meth pipe out of a line up of all the different pipes used to smoke drugs if she tried. She found brillow downstairs and asked me what it was for. Only a crack user would know that brillow is used in a crack pipe, not any others. Most people just see it as something under the kitchen sink. Of course, you need the Chore Boy brand in the orange box, not the kind with soap. That would be gross. As if smoking though brillow isn’t bad enough.
I was more than happy to advise my mom with the ins and outs of what the drug world looked like. I feared trouble would show up at her house. Where there are drugs, there are dealers. Where there are dealers , there is increasing traffic and attention. My mom lives alone and I didn‘t want things getting out of hand as they inevitably do in a house where drugs are being used. I was helping to protect her and her home. But 6 months after Dave dies, to hand me a glass pipe is not normal. She is beyond the point of needing to know what it is. She knew what was going on in her basement. She knew this object was used for drugs. She knew it was a glass pipe. I was never a meth addict which I am assuming she knows as well. But she knows that crack is smoked through a glass pipe as is meth. For all she knew, that was a crack pipe. She handed it to me. And then basically walked away.
I have been trying to make up reasons in my mind why my mother would do this. Maybe she didn’t realize the gravity of her action? She even said, just as she would say when asking me to bring her pills, “Oh maybe you don’t want to see that.” She said something along those lines. I am not sure the exact words because I was standing there staring down at this in disbelief. Why didn’t she just throw it away? Why did I need to see it? If my girlfriend would have been there, even in the other room, she wouldn’t have dared show that to me. I guess that statement right there tells me what I need to know.
I don’t want to believe she is really that crafty and conniving. But everything in me can feel that she did this on purpose. What does she expect me to do? Keep it? Go buy some drugs and use it? She just wants to play with my head. My mom is an addict, but she’s never had the same problems that I have. She pops pills, snorts crushed pills, and drinks, but never used a drug where an actual object could trigger an emotion or a flashback. So why? How did she know to do this? Maybe because of her ignorance, she didn’t know? I don’t know.
I do know, however, that I would never hand my child a meth pipe. I wouldn’t hand anyone a meth pipe. Even my ex, the very last time he relapsed, tried to corner me and get me to use with him. That was the last of many times. He would relapse and hold the pipe out in front of me waiting for me join him in his misery. How can you hand someone you love something that could kill them. That’s it. Misery. Miserable people need others around them to be miserable too. It makes them feel better. My mother has lost me. She said it herself. I don’t really think it’s about losing me anymore, but she lost my kids. I don’t think she deserves to see them anymore. She knows the smoke has cleared and I am smart enough to not engage in her mind games. Same as my ex. He finally realizes, I hope, that I am not going back. It took me long enough to stand up to both of them.
Two toxic, dysfunctional relationships took up my entire life up to this point. I dreaded my birthday. I’ll be 40 next year. I feel old and that I wasted so much time. But it’s just like that stupid question, “Is the glass half empty or is it half full?” My life is half over. But I still have half of it left, statistically speaking. This half, however, I have the hindsight and the wisdom gained from the first half. Chalk one up for me.
I have no problem staying away from my ex. I need to work on staying away from my mom. Surprisingly, she is a lot more damaging to me. I didn’t realize what my mother had done to me at the time. But as each day passes, and it’s only been 2 days since my birthday, I am more disturbed and offended by what she did. I know she’s not stupid. She did that to me on purpose. I don’t want to admit it out loud because it hurts. But I am admitting it here. I haven’t verbally told anyone. I will eventually. I will tell my therapist on Friday. I thought my PTSD was a result of my marriage, but I am finding out, piece by piece, it all started with my mother. And she’s still tearing me down. Why am I still surprised? Because my mother is not supposed to hurt me. She is supposed to love me. But life does not always go the way nature intends.
And the candle on to top this birthday cake? My mom complained about how she called me the morning of my birthday. She claims I didn’t answer the call or respond to a message. All day I was thinking to myself, “Wow, not even a call from my own mother. Even if you hate me, at least say happy birthday.” I call her on Mother’s Day and her birthday just out of courtesy. So after she told me that she had in fact called, I apologized for not responding.
Yesterday, out of curiosity, I checked my call logs. She never called. This woman’s manipulation amazes me. It shouldn’t. But it does.
That’s one small step for me. And one more meth pipe in the trash.