I BURIED MY MOTHER…ALIVE
No child should ever have to bury her parent…alive.
I buried my mother at a young age. I don’t remember when. I could have been six or seven, maybe eight, but definitely no older than that. But she wasn’t dead.
I was born to a seventeen year old narcissist in 1973. I didn’t know the term then, for obvious reasons, and I didn’t know the word for a long time thereafter, but I learned it and I understand now why I had to bury her…alive…as a child.
I was a precocious child, but not unlike many children born to narcissists I was also very lonely, no, not lonely, let me rephrase that, I was alone a lot, with my thoughts. I didn’t spend time though on unanswerable questions like why doesn’t this woman love me? I preferred to submit to a more philosophical enquiry regarding the source of her rage and more pragmatically, what I could do to survive her today…and thinking ahead…hopefully, how I could survive her tomorrow.
I must have breathed a sigh of relief when her daughter was born, but the truth is…I don’t remember her as a mother prior to the time of this birth, and I certainly don’t remember the narcissistic tendencies until after the girl’s birth. The more this child was blanketed and protected, the more exposed and vulnerable I became; still her birth was a blessing; her growing up not so much. The more she doted on the girl, the less rage was directed at me. I was safe when the baby was in her arms, but the baby started to grow…separate, but connected, outside the womb, internalizing the manipulation and the rage, and basking in it.
“I will make my mummy beat you”.
I had asked to share her sweet treats.
Let me make it clear that what I write here is not an attempt to shine a spotlight on abuse or even healing. It is not about violence, victimology or victory. It is in its simplest sense insight, burial and peace. This is about the kind of peace that makes you look up and down and sideways and then in an undertone question why you’ve never seen something before when you instinctively know that it has always been there. This is that kind of peace that causes you to ask yourself: “how long have I been comatose?” The abuse is secondary, the healing primary, but the burial fundamental to this story, because it weaves the three together in a whole, not as patched pieces, but as a solid mending, because the fray is undetectable such that the joining of the once torn pieces of human fabric appears seamless.
The narcissist makes you question the severity of the abuse, compelling you to cross-examine your own recollection, goading on your reliance of your own memories.
“Really? Really? I did that? Something is seriously wrong with your mind. You are such a dramatist. I never treated you two any differently.”
In the face of evidence, there is just denial after denial, so I buried her while she was alive. At that time, I wanted her to feel fear as I covered her over and dirtied her with the dirt. In my child’s mind I prayed she was traumatized as each mound of earth covered her over. But death is not child’s play, so now my adult thoughts turn to a hope of peace as she was interred. I now pray that with each fresh mound her eyes closed and gave her the first sense of real peace her mind ever permitted, not to think of her wrongs, because not even at death can the narcissist contemplate another’s pain, but the permission to think of nothing, nothing about afflictions, manipulations, anger, deceit, disguise, fraudulence, hatred, pain, nothing of the sort…nothingness.
Despite the burial being very deliberate, I hadn’t noticed that I had buried her. There were no outward signs of a funeral. There was no casket, no flowers or tributes and there were no mourners. No one mourned her, yet in life she had put on such a spectacular show. She was undoubtedly the star each time she walked on to life’s stage; a great actress, yet no one mourned her? I had buried her before they got the chance, to maintain her dignity, so that they would not see HER and renege on promises, regret their vows to worship…HER.
I could hear her eulogy; likely drafted by her own hand; part poetry, part prose, all worshipful, and I started to get sick from the hypocrisy, so I dragged her living body to the open grave, and I rolled her in with as much strength as my child-like frame could muster. I lifted the shovel, and I dragged the dirt in and over with ease and composure until I filled her in. I buried her alive, not in the recesses of my mind or the aches of my heart where she might at times casually climb out, but in the grave and I made a final request of that Higher Power, that I may never see her again as she rests in peace. Certainly, this was a peace she could never know as a living, practicing narcissist. I buried her less for my own peace and more for her own because I understood now that her self-loathing was self-combative, self-belligerent; it was the anti-repose:
“You nasty dirty little whore. You will never amount to anything. You know you only got this far because of me. I clothed you, fed you and educated you. I don’t owe you a damn thing. You OWE me and I OWN you.”.
Hmmm. The self-conflict and self-contradictions are exhausting I suspect, so in my child’s mind I needed to silence her thoughts for her sake, and put her to rest, so with the shovel in hand I scraped the last piece of earth on to the mound and finally…silence…I had buried her...alive.