I envy my mother.
She hid who she really was so perfectly. She was (and still is) a brilliant actress. No one suspected she was abusing her own children. They only saw what she presented to the world.
She was a true Catholic woman who went to Church every weekend.
She was a devoted mother who was involved in all of her children’s activities.
She was a kind, good-hearted, charitable person who never hesitated to give what she could to others.
The truth was that my mother only went to Church because membership was requires in order to get discounted tuition for the Catholic schools she sent her children to. Her stoic Catholicism disappeared once her children finished school. The schools she sent her children to, not to give them a better education or strong faith, but because it made her look good. Bad parents don’t send their children to private school, right?
The truth was that my mother was involved in every activity not because she was devoted, but because she needed to be in control at all times. She was a Girl Scout troop leader not because she believed in what the organization stood for, but because it put her in an easily obtained power position.
The truth was that my mother brought gifts and donated to charities because it made her look good. She would buy lavish gifts for friends and extended family with money she didn’t have to spend. We’d often sit at home with no power because she spent all of the money she had buying things, and had no money left to pay the bills. But that didn’t bother her, because no one saw that our power was off, but they did see the nice things she bought for them (and for herself).
As an adult, I envied my mother’s ability to present whatever she wanted to the world, even when it was a lie. I could never do that. I wore the truth on my face without even trying.
But I’ve come to realize, I am pretending just like she did. I am hiding behind a false presentation I give to the world.
People see that I have it together. I go to work, I go to school, I write. I’m functioning so well. People read my articles, they see what I’ve done and they look up to me.
The truth is I am fucked up. I can barely get out of bed most mornings, and even though I manage to make it to work, it sucks up the little energy I have. I don’t even know how I’m making it through school because I have no fucking clue what’s going on. I know I’m reading English, but it might as well be Chinese because I just can’t understand it. I write articles that give people with DID hope, showing them that they can live a normal life, when I am spending so many of my days in a black hole of hopelessness, questioning if my life could get any more fucked up than it already is. I tell people to accept their diagnosis, while I wake up and tell myself I don’t have DID. I’m a fucking hypocrite.
And in the moments that someone sees that I am not together, I pretend like I am. I don’t want them seeing the mess that I am. So I tell them I am okay. I put on a smile. I do my work. They think I’m okay. There’s nothing to see here. Please go, and care about someone who matters.
People see that I look better. I’ve lost so much weight, but they assume it’s okay because I’m overweight. They give me compliments about my appearance, and tell me how great and healthy I look. I smile and thank them.
The truth is I am not healthy. I’ve lost so much weight because I starve myself. No one thinks anything of it, because they only think eating disorders happen to skinny people. It’s just like childhood. You don’t look like you’re starving. Oh, but I was. And I still am. The only difference is now I am the one in control, not my mother. I learned to shut off my hunger like a switch. If I don’t feel it, then it’s not a problem. I am in control now.
And in the moments that someone shows concern about my eating, I eat for them. I take their offers of food. I act like I enjoy it. Then I go in the bathroom and throw it all up. But they don’t see that. They see me eat and they think I’m okay. There’s nothing to see here. Please go, and care about someone who matters.
People see that I am planning a future. I’m working hard. I’m continuing my education. I’m going to therapy in order to heal. I must be working towards a better life.
The truth is that I’m just going through the motions. I am not planning my future any more than I am planning my death. I’m working because I have to. I’m going to school because I need the money. Therapy isn’t going to heal me. You can’t heal a person that’s been broken so many times, just like you can’t repair a shattered mug. I’m not working towards anything. I’m just waiting for the end.
And in the moments when someone sees my hopelessness, my depression, I tell them I’m fine. I tell them they’re wrong. If I were so hopeless and so lost, I wouldn’t be working, going to school, or going to therapy. If I were so hopeless, I would have killed myself already. I make valid points. They think I must be okay. Please go, and care about someone who matters.
I am just like my mother. I’ve become so good at acting normal, that no one can see who I really am.
A fucking disaster.