[Content note: discussion of multiple forms of abuse including physical, emotional, child, spousal, etc]
Back in January, I shared my first My Abusive Mother Won’t Leave Me Alone post, complete with a transcription of a voicemail message I received from her.
Allow me to transcribe a couple other messages she’s left more recently, like in August 2016, just for your benefit.
Starting off in a kind of bored tone of voice, her typical “I’m calling because it’s a thing i do but I know you never will reply” thing she does… Also for what it’s worth my dad’s first name has been changed and is listed here as “Joe”, and I’m not sure if she is just a substitute teacher at an elementary school or if she has a different school teacher related job or what, because honestly it’s been almost 7 years since I really knew anything at all concrete about her life and back then she wasn’t working.
So yeah she said:
Hi Emily, it’s me. Look um… Tuesday… (Extra long pause) They were- At work, they were talking about um… how parents don’t read to their children anymore, and… I got a little choked up. ‘Cause I remember… I remember reading to you, in bed, all those times. And then, um, today… Uh… My neighbor – he helps me out all the time – he did this stuff with my dryer and… there’s… Something. I don’t even know what it is but it had ‘Emily’ on it, it’s a metal thing, slowing?(I’m not sure what word she said) it down, and I just… started crying. And just cried, and cried, and cried. And um… you were a really nice kid. You really were. You were a really nice child, when you were young, you were so sweet, and… If there’s any of that left in you… (Her teariness sort of fades off here ish) look me in the eye. Look me in the eye, and tell me it’s okay that- that Joe beat me. And then we can say goodbye! How’s that? Ok. I love you. Bye.
(After she says “‘Cause I remember…”, she switches from a matter-of-fact kind of tone of voice to suddenly teary stuff, idk if it’s an act or what but it sounds kind of believable.)
I was driving home from the swimming pool with my dad after a very pleasant summer weekend day together when I noticed this new voicemail on my phone and mentioned it to him. And we decided to listen to it together. Then when we got back into our house there was a new message on the answering machine and I just knew it’d be her. Sure enough, to my dad himself on our home machine she left what was honestly a scarier message. My dad said in reply, among other things, that “it’s kind of foreboding, isn’t it??” And we were almost laughing – but it wasn’t really funny.
The message on our home machine was very like… Conversational in tone and casual and not at all sad and barely angry, this time for one she was much more matter if fact with only a hint of frustration I guess:
Hi Joe, it’s me. Yeah, I know, you tried to kill me – many times, many different ways. But… you have failed in all of your attempts. So, anyway… I am actually still here. And… we need to talk. I know. I don’t really want to talk to you any more than you want to talk to me, but… that’s where we’re at. So, um,… I know you’re weak and scared and horrible and all that stuff, but… I don’t know. Try and get a grip and be a man, or a person or… PRETEND you’re a human being, so… give me a call! Ok? Bye.
My dad jokes that this is a great way to get him to call back. I don’t know why I waste any energy at all wondering what she’s thinking but it continues to baffle me, the things she chooses to say in these messages.
I stopped living with her when I was 17 and all she remembers is like 7 year old me or younger?? She finally is ready to accept the goodbye part of our relationship, or so she teases. She continues to act like she wants us to call her back – as if that would solve anything at all.
But she’s also so desperate for me to meet her in person again and look her in the eye and what? fight?? Surrender?? She isn’t asking me “what can I do to make this better” or “please forgive me” or anything close.
She also bothered my dad’s mother, my grandmother with a phone call about how awful her son is. This day she got all inspired by her grief/rage/whatever she feels for us, I guess. It’s just… I wish this wasn’t still a thing after all these years.
Also the gender stuff at the end amuses me because idk if she intended it this way but she says “be a man” as if he’s not one, but then immediately seems to realize she doesn’t want to accuse him of being a woman. That was never her intent. So she switches it up to just “human being”/”person”… Presumably trying to say non human creatures are… Monsters?
Another one she left later on in August, a few days later, btw:
Hi Emily, it’s me. You’re an adult now. And I am… an adult getting older. So… could you please just look me in the eye, and tell me that you’re okay… with… your father, Joe, beating me for all those years, almost killing me, maiming me, g- disfiguring me, terrorizing me, and all of that. If you look me in the eye and tell me that you’re like ‘just fine‘ with all that- face to face! – I will stop calling you. If that doesn’t happen, I will keep calling, and telling you I love you, and I worry about you, and I miss you! I worry so much about you. You were so sweet as a child. So um… that’s it. [If you] Look me in the eye and tell me all that stuff, we can say goodbye. Otherwise, what are you doing? Explain that to me! Okay? I love you very much. Bye.
It’s hard to describe her tone of voice, so here, instead, I offer you a download link to listen to this one: https://www.sendspace.com/file/pdclbd
Seriously you should hear it for yourself and get the gist. For all of the voicemails transcribed I did indeed download them but I just wanted to share at least one of them so that you can really get the full picture of what I’m dealing with here. I’m a 26 year old woman who took my mother up on an ultimatum where I was “kicked out of the house” (and told to not come back home) at age 17 because my dad was going to take my brother to see a doctor about his broken hand and my mother didn’t want my brother to get the medical attention he needed. I cut my mother out of my life as much as I could on my 18th birthday because after months of court-ordered visitation I felt I was losing nothing and gaining a lot by doing so, my main real act of embracing adulthood at that time. I was still a child in many ways, living with my maternal grandmother mind you, attending high school, etc… and it was not just my father but most of her own family agreeing that it was pretty understandable why someone like me would need to cut her out of my life…
My mother is an abuser, as I explained in detail in a long three-part blog post here, and I know if she read those she would not agree that a) all those events really happened or b) that they were abusive. I would not wish to lie and claim I believe my father did all those horrible things to her if I ever did speak to her again, but that is partially because I don’t believe it really would make her stop calling. I highly doubt it would.
Gratefully, it is jarring for people who know my father fairly well to hear my mother express these kinds of sentiments about him, and they never believe maybe he did act that way toward her. I know in some cases it’s perhaps true that someone can act completely non-abusive in other situations but with the one target of their abuse they are horrific, but that was not the case with my parents. I know which one of my parents was abusive, I know it was not both of them, and I know exactly what events my mom is referring to when she claims my father “disfigured her”. She has a permanent finger deformity that was self-caused but she claims he did it. Etc. There’s so much that my mom likes to speak about in either vague terms or hyperbole on these voicemail messages these last few years but really, I know the specifics. I read the whole deposition she gave when accusing her following romantic partner of extreme physical abuse in 2014, and that thing included a ton of past references to what my father did to her before, mainly because for that civil case (the criminal case already having been dismissed, but it being a lot harder to disprove “A Preponderance of Evidence” than to establish Reasonable Doubt in American courts) the defense was arguing that more it likely it was that my father caused things like her finger or hand injuries, the less likely it was her next boyfriend, whom she was suing, caused them… anyway…
Sigh. I’m just tired. I’m tired of getting these voicemails on my phone, but sometimes I’m also morbidly curious to know what she’ll have to say next. I don’t want to just not listen, because I’m scared that she’ll end up putting my dad in jail again by falsely accusing him of something new, and I’d like to have warning. I’d love to have warning if she’s going to show up in our town or whatever and I think she has a good chance of warning us via voicemail if that was going to happen. It’s also weirdly… nice, in a way, to know I didn’t make a mistake 8 years ago when I made my choice to go “No Contact” with my mother. It’s nice to see that attempting to reconnect with her would be traumatizing and a mistake because she’s still acting like this in her messages, doesn’t feel sorry for all the pain she put me through, doesn’t accept that she ever acted wrongly, etc.
Back to another swimming pool trip now, I suppose. It’s the final weekend of “the summer” in many cultural ways, and the last weekend the public pools are open. My dad and I are going to make the most of it. 😉
Oh wait – just about to hit publish on this blog post but she left me another voicemail. A more innocuous seeming one but… I still don’t appreciate the ultimate sentiment:
Hi, Emily. It’s me. I think about you all the time. And I worry about you. You are stronger than you think. You really are. And um… we need to talk. Call me. I love you. Bye.
Download link: https://www.sendspace.com/file/07w3zw
I still am frustrated that she can leave a message about how much she thinks I must be okay with someone beating her one week, and the next week assume to know anything about the daughter she’s been out of contact with for 6-8 years (depending on how you frame it) such as how strong I think I am, therefore she has the ability to claim I am stronger than that.
My mom always seemed to hate getting in the water whenever she took my brother and me to the pool, and honestly? That always just made going in and swimming even more fun, because it was almost always time away from her.