I sit on the floor in my new home staring at my reflection in the mirror. My red-tinged eyes swollen from tears. It's been years since I had cried like this. It's been years since I had allowed myself to feel this kind of pain. As I stare at my reflection all I see is ugliness. I see that same 12-year old little girl who was afraid of what she was becoming.
Where had the strong girl I had built over the years gone? I heard my son's soft cry. He called for me but he calls in a whisper. It is almost as though he has learned from the womb that I prefer my silence. He breaks me from my sorrow and I rise to meet him. I reach out and pick him up. His crying fades and he calms in my arms. I smile.
This person, so small and fragile yet he offers me a kindness I have never known. He drifts off to sleep in my arms and I can't bear to pull myself away from him. I carry him with me back to the mirror. I am a glutton for punishment but I need to face these demons.
Once again I look at myself and I am disgusted with what I have become. Shame. The person that I created no longer resembled the child I used to be. Where had she gone? I closed my eyes and my mind drifted back to the night I couldn't sleep because hunger pangs had overtaken me.
My mother had decided that we didn't deserve to eat that day so we were sent to bed without a meal. My brother had raided the fridge as soon as she had fallen asleep. I was filled with trepidation so it took me a long time before I found the courage to crawl out of bed. I found myself in the pantry taking a cookie.
The cookie crumbled in my mouth and tasted like heaven. I heard a sound coming from down the hall. Slippers. I ran as fast my legs could carry me and pushed myself under the covers. The cookie crumbs still on my lips and the rest of the cookie plunged into my mouth. Don't chew, don't breath, don't let her hear you. The slippers stop at the front of my bedroom door. I steady my breathing. In the darkness, I hear the door latch and the sound of the door slowly creaking open.
I reopen my eyes, fresh tears are flowing. I look down at his sleeping form and I wonder how I had been so blessed in spite of myself. As I reflected on my life I knew that I had become a mean girl. I had become cruel for the sake of being cruel. I had turned myself into the very thing I never wanted to become.
I saw the face looking back at me. I had become my mother. Her anger and rage at the world had resonated so deep within my soul that I had become her without even trying. Images of her cruelty flowed through my mind as the tears continued to fall. I would become her if I did nothing. I would speak cruel words to both my husband and my child. My future could be seen as clearly as looking back into my past.
I envisioned myself wearing those slippers and hearing the sound of a child's footsteps scurrying across the ground. 'How dare that rotten child try to grab a bite to eat when I expressly forbade it. I will make sure that they pay for this betrayal. I am not to be betrayed. I will have my pound of flesh.'
I quickly survey the kitchen and I immediately notice the cookie bag is slightly open. "Rotten kids" I would mutter under my breath as I moved with a quick pace to their bedroom. 'Which one was it?' I pondered. 'The boy?' maybe. Maybe the girl. She is the kind of child that disobeys. She is the one that ruined me. I bet she is laughing at me right now. Laughing to herself thinking how she would get away with this act.
I stand in front of the door and slowly turn the knob. I barely make out the fact that she is completely submerged under the covers. 'It was her' I am sure of it. I am thinking about how to punish her. I need to make an impact. I need her to understand that those who betray me are punished.
Didn't she remember when my sister stayed with us and I stripped her naked because she was stealing from me? Sure, I didn't find anything on her but I know she was stealing. She was a traitorous whore who wanted to bed my husband. I hope he got a nice peek at her naked form before I kicked her ass out of my house. She disgusts me.
My eyes scan the room, I can't see well in the dark but I know it was her. She thinks I don't see her squirming. That's OK. I'll let her have her cookie tonight. Tomorrow. Tomorrow she will pay. I close the door gently and turn towards my room. Tomorrow, that child will pay for her crimes. I hope that cookie was worth it.
I'm brought back from my imaginings and a shudder runs down my spine. It was time to change. I needed to be more. I needed to become worthy of this gift that rested on my lap. He would look to me for guidance and for love and what would I be able to offer him? I would offer him the world because he deserved it and more.
The road ahead wouldn't be easy but it was decided. I wasn't going to be a mean girl anymore. I was going to be more, I was going to give freely of myself and not be afraid to shed a tear. It wasn't going to be easy. It wasn't going to be fun but it was going to happen. What I hadn't expected was to become "THAT Mom" but that's a story for another day.
Thank you so much for being a part of this process with me. All of your comments, feedback and encouragement propelled me forward and allowed me to tell this story. Thanks to you I decided to create a sequel titled "When You Realize You've Become 'That' Mom...and What Comes Next." This book deals with all the different versions of Mom that Catherine goes through as she tries to navigate not being like her own mother. Stay tuned.
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When You Realize You've Become a Mean Girl...and What Comes Next (In Editing)Non-Fiction
It isn't every day that you find yourself waking up and realizing "Hey, I'm a mean girl." I could make sure people like you didn't make their way into our circle and I was very good at it. You wanted to sit with us? No thank you. You wanted to talk...