Mother's Little Helper

Every once in a while, I allow myself to dig deep into the bowels of my brain and retrieve the memories of my childhood that made my life a (secret) living hell.  Over and over again, I try to remind myself I was adopted because there are people who wanted to give me a life full of chances and opportunities that I would not have had, had I stayed in-care, where ever that was my first year of life.  As nice as that generic reason seems to most people, I know why my adoptive mother needed me.  It was not to save me from an orphanage, (although that did make her look like a savior in human clothing)... it was to save herself from the pain she was feeling about her own life, her own losses, and her own secret miseries she had kept to herself.

I don't know when it began, but I do recall how the "Comfort Years" started.  It started with a sad mommy wanting a back-rub because she was tired and upset.  Nothing made me happier than to make mommy glad, so I would walk on her back, like George Jefferson used to do for Mr. Bentley on the show, The Jeffersons.  I would use my feet to soothe her back and she would tell me how good I made her feel, and that made me feel so proud.  I loved knowing I could make her happy, especially when I saw her look so lonely and sad.  As I got older, and heavier, I would use my hands, instead of my feet, and I'd massage not just her back, but also her legs and her feet.  This became a night-time ritual, one that allowed me to watch an extra hour of TV.  I used to love watching Quincey ME and movies made for TV.  I don't remember how old I was, but I do recall how/when those Mommy & Me moments became a real chore.  She started telling me her problems and secrets and suddenly the mommy I adored became a woman who had all sorts of family and marriage problems that were only getting worse. 

It was my job to listen, comfort and rub.  It was my job to nurse her back to working-health, which meant in addition to the back-rubs, it was my job to bring her tea and toast (or a glass of Tab with lots of ice) and her bottle of pills so she get her rest and sleep.  It was my job to keep quiet, unless she needed me to agree with what she was saying or tell her things I saw or over-heard.   It was my job to shut her door and make sure she was not disturbed.  It was my job not to bring more stress to her already overwhelming world.

Decades later, when I was a Senior in nursing school, I almost told my mother about the sexual abuse that started when I was nine years old.  Before I could get to the words, she stopped me and told me, "If I ever found out your life was less than perfect, I would die."

I knew right then how much she needed her Mother's Little Helper to protect her from reality.

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Little green helpers

When I was still a child my adoptive mother had her mother's little helpers in the form of Chlordiazepoxide, which she took on a daily basis for several years. When she switched doctors after one of our many moves, her new doctor, who was much younger than his predecessor, stopped giving her the green pills. After that I became my mother's little helper, having to listen to her stories about her marriage, absent sex-life and all sorts of other things a child doesn't want to know about its parents.

Drug of choice

My a.mother used to take Valium and Xanax, although I never knew what the pills were (or what they did) until I was in nursing school.  The sick twisted irony for me was this:  she hated alcohol because of her father, and what it did to him (he was an alcoholic), yet she took drugs as her own means of escape.  Those drugs made her sleep, leaving me as easy prey.

All those years in that house... I remember all three of us (my a.dad, their son and me) having to be so careful not to upset her.  We had to walk on egg-shells, just so she wouldn't crack . I so HATED that!!!  [Her "disposition" was one of the main reasons why I could not show an interest in my birth-family.  I was told it would upset her if she thought I wanted to meet my first mother.]

All those years... we were protecting her and her precious reputation.

Who was protecting ME?!?!?

When I went to the doctor, soon after 9/11, the first thing that went through my mind was:  if I go on anti-depressants/medication, will it make me a zombie?  [In my mind I was thinking:  "Would this make me like HER?!?"]  More than anything, I was afraid of pills that would put me to sleep.

Would you believe I'm actually afraid to sleep when there are children in the house?!? 

Pound Pup Legacy