I remember being surprised when I saw other mothers talking to their children like human beings

I went to my mother’s funeral to make sure that she was really dead. I hadn’t seen her for decades, but in the park where her ashes had been scattered, I felt that her poison could still seep into me through the ground. It took years after the funeral for it to finally sink in that she was really dead.

Growing up, I remember being surprised when I saw other mothers talking to their children like human beings, even enjoying them. My mother talked and talked about how stupid and selfish children are, particularly the two faulty specimens she was lumbered with. She talked constantly about the nobility of motherhood, her self-sacrifice, how ungrateful we were. From childhood I secretly dreamed of escaping her, and finally did so around the age of 21. It had been a choice between her wants and my sanity and survival.

Looking back, I understand that I was, even then, one of the last family members left in her life; by then, she had conned, manipulated, bullied and eventually alienated everyone else. My counsellor guesses that my mother had Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but the mental health system that existed when I was a child didn’t really recognize her illness, nor the effects it had on me and my brother.

There was nobody else at my mother’s hastily-organized pauper’s funeral, apart from a couple of well-meaning neighbours. Later, when I met long-lost relatives and other people who had known her, I realized that many of them had also seen what I saw. Over the years I have somehow healed the damage that my mother wrought, and learned what love is. Now in my forties, I finally have some chance of building a life for myself. As for my mother, I do wonder if there was a human being in there somewhere, but I’ll never know.

– Anonymous