A Mother's Tough Love
She saw me when she looked at me, the me that was before the pain
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Because she loved me...
She found a way to get through to me, as different as it was-it worked.
I was 16 years old; it was nearing the end of the first semester of my sophomore year in high school. A few weeks prior, I had celebrated my 16th birthday and it was anything but a celebration. My mother and father both lost much sleep over what I was doing with my life. They were scared for me, but in my emotionally unstable teenage mind-I felt as if they were only trying to control me and tell me I wasn’t good enough being me, whomever I thought I was at the time. At 16 years old I weighed around 85lbs and was 5’4” tall. At 17 years old I had managed to pickup a number of habits which included killing my pain and suffering with substances that were anything but legal.
I justified my decisions as being alright and I refused to admit that I was not in control of the things I was abusing, only because I was still able to maintain the grade point average of an Honor Student. I hadn’t spoken to my mother in a little over a week, so I wasn’t expecting for her to show up at my High School and have me released from class at 11:30am. When I walked from my English class towards the main office, my eyes locked onto hers. She was wearing scrubs, as she did every day and although she wasn’t smiling, the expression on her face was inviting, yet sad. I didn’t ask her until we were half way to San Antonio where we were going and how she was able to get off of work to get me released.
She glanced over at me, as I clenched my backpack that was resting in my lap, and said, “I have a few people that I think you should meet”.
“Oh great”, I thought to myself, “Are you taking me to see another shrink?” I asked in a displeasing tone.
“No, unless you think a new counselor would do something for you that the past three were not able to?” she replied in a sarcastic tone to combat my attitude.
“Whatever, Mom”, I said as I rolled my eyes at her. “Perhaps if you stop thinking that I am so bad, you could see that I am not bad at all. I am fine-my only problem is I hate my life, and I hate you. You and Dad think you know everything, but you don’t! Everyday I walk the halls of High School, and I might as well be walking the halls of Hell”, I said harshly-knowing that the words I spoke would hurt.
She said nothing; she just grabbed my hand and held it. Even though I was angry, I didn’t pull my hand from hers, truth was-I loved it when my Mother would reach out for me. It reminded me she still cared, even if it was just a few minutes at a time.
The rest of the drive was silent. I had closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep, until I waken up as my mothers hand released mine so she could remove the car keys from the ignition. I looked around at the crowded parking lot, and realized we were at my mother’s work, which happened to be one of the largest Hospitals in San Antonio. She had been working the Pediatric ICU for years, and always had sad stories to share, in an attempt to scare the crap out of me and my siblings so we would think before we acted.
I walked through the doors with hesitation. “I hate this smell”. I mumbled under my breath.
“What smell?” she asked.
“The smell of sick people”, I said.
“We wont be here too long, I will take you home in a little bit, after you meet a few people that you have a few things in common with”, she replied. Her tone sounded as if she was attempting to plea with me to just relax and listen. For some reason, I listened to the tone in her voice that told me to listen to what she had to say to me. She walked me to a window that looked into one of the rooms. Inside of the room, was a girl that looked as if she was sleeping, she had half a dozen different monitors and IV lines running to her body.
I couldn’t help but stare as my mother introduced me to Lillian. She explained that Lillian, like me, was 16 years old. She had taken a cocktail of LSD and Cocaine and was laying in that hospital on Life Support.
Before I was able to respond, I felt my mothers hand in mine again. She began to take a few steps to her left, and tugged at me to follow, which I did. She then introduced me to Lillian’s 5 year old brother Cody. The night that Lillian decided to take her cocktail, Cody was annoying her. So in her drug induced haze she began to beat her little brother, who my mother said, will not ever walk again. My mother explained that Lillian would have killed her brother if it wasn’t for her heart stopping. I was frozen. I had nothing to even try and say, I had no thoughts no anger, no questions. (Lillian died a few days after my visit to the hospital -and her brother did walk again, after 5 years of physical therapy)
As my mother led me from the ICU, unit, I thought we were done and I was going to go home. She wasn’t done; she had one more stop to make on this mother daughter field trip. We walked through the hall to the elevator. I didn’t look to see what floor we were headed for, but the moment that the doors opened and we stepped onto the linoleum floor- I knew where we were. The Psyche Ward of the hospital. The floor had a different smell and a different chill in the air. We didn’t walk far-until we arrived at my mothers last planned stop. Another girl, another girl my age. She was nothing but skin and bones, just like I was. She refused to eat, and to aid her on her conquest to be thin, she used a variety of drugs, some legal, many not legal. I asked my mom how long she had been like that.
“My mother responded, she has been a patient on and off for 2 years, and she no longer controlled her problems, now her problems are controlling her. She will die if her doctors can’t help her.”
As I sat and spoke with my mother, I was thinking about Lillian and her brother, and said-I have never hurt anyone Mom, never”.
She said, “I know you haven’t, not yet anyways. You haven’t hurt anyone accept for yourself.”
My mother then poured out her heart to me through hundreds of tears that fell from her eyes. She told me that she loved me and although I can not see now, she hopes that I will see someday that pain that she feels with the loss of not being able to help me. She said she remembers her little girl that would take wash clothes and wrap them around her Barbie Dolls, and carefully secure the washcloth with rubber bands to make a mermaid fin. She told me that is the little girl she still sees when she looks at me. She apologized for things I never blamed her for. She said that she will do everything in her power to ensure that I can grow from my adolescence and not be lost to it. I listened to my mother that day, and I saw her pain, the pain that I caused. To this day almost 15 years later-I still remember the worry and concern in her voice, as she begged me to help her save my life.
This Hub Came to Be
This hub came to be, by the request of another Huber, who urged me to write it after a forum post. So Rafini, here is the Hub, at your request; the story of my mother's 'Tough Love".