A Revision of History
I am sure we have all felt like being able to go back in time and re-do something…maybe something small, like study for a test better or maybe this time not blurting out “I slept with your boyfriend.” As for me, I have found myself contemplating the courses of history many times. I have tortured myself often (and still do periodically) by wondering what I could have been if only things had been different.
Where to begin. The beginning, naturally. I was born to a woman who married and had a child because that was what women did. When I was born, she did not want anything to do with me because she was certain that I did not like her. This was because I cried all the time and never smiled. My sister, on the other hand, born three years later, was a good baby. As we grew older, it was even clearer to my mother that my sister was the good child and I was the bad child. Try as I might, I could not earn the approval that was so easily given to my sister. Much later as an adult, I realized (through the help of extensive therapy) that my mother suffered from borderline personality disorder
I could have been the best daughter in the world and still would have been treated the same by her. Unfortunately, by the time I learned it was not my fault, the damage had been done. I had suffered years of emotional, mental, and physical abuse. I saw myself as bad, unlovable, uncapable of doing anything right. I was unable to form a healthy relationship, relate to others in any setting, or keep a job. Yet, I was intelligent and creative and always did well in school. (though since I did not get straight As, I was a bad child for not doing as well as I should have)
What might I have been if only my mother had been kind, loving, and supportive? With my intelligence, I am sure there is nothing I could not have achieved. Could I have found the cure for cancer? Created/discovered a renewable energy source? Become the first female President of the United States? At the very least, I am absolutely convinced that I would have been able to make friends, find and give true love, and have a satisfying, well paying job. In other words, be happy.
But, we can’t just go back to my birth to hit the undo button and turn my mother into someone capable of love. We need to go further back in time. What made her who she was?
She was the tenth child in a family of ten with 12 years between her and her next oldest sibling. She was, as you may guess, not planned. As a result of her birth, her mother refused to talk to her father after that point. (Mexican Roman Catholics do not believe in birth control, or divorce). So, my mother grew up in a household of discontent with her entire family blaming her for that environment. But it gets worse. We do not know the specifics, but borderline personality disorder is most often the result of traumatic abuse as a child, usually of a sexual nature. After her mother cut her father off from any sort of relationship, my sister and I suspect our grandfather of the worst.
How do you hit the undo button in a situation like this? The timing of her birth is what caused the chain of events to follow. Changing that one link would have made her a completely different person, one who, at the very least, would not have gone to college when my father did. In other words, taking the trauma out of her childhood would have caused me not to exist.
The truth is that the horrible abuse she suffered caused me to exist. And in turn, the abuse I suffered caused me to be the person I am today, both good and bad.
At the age of fourty, I realize that I cannot change what happened to me, what happened to her. It does no good to wallow in the what might have been. Regret is the block of cement chained to me dragging me down, holding me back. I cannot undo what happened, but I can undo the results. I cannot unshatter the glass, but I can slowly pick up the pieces and glue them together.
Through therapy and medication I have been able to find and keep a job that I enjoy. With the help of my sister and a wonderful woman who will become my wife this October, I have learned how to experience and give love. In other words, I am happy.