A Farewell To My Mother

I’ve wanted for a long time to write about my relationship with my mother. I’ve wanted to try and explain the many ways in which she’s harmed me over the course of my life. Today, she sent me a message, asking me to come back and work for her again, and asking for respect. This message was my response to her. It contains most of what I have to say.

How can I respect you? You told me I would burn in hell. You don’t care about people making fun of me for my sexuality. You don’t accept and love for who I am, even though I’m different than you. You bring judgement and anger toward me every day. You hurt me on a very deep level with your words and actions. How could I ever respect that? All you bring to my life is pain and misery.

I’ve tried for so long to try and see past the things about that hurt me. I’ve tried to still love you and treat you like my mother and show you honor. But when I do, you return that favor with anger, bitterness and hatred toward who and what I am. You’ve always claimed to love me, but your actions are not that of a loving person.
I have friends who are mothers, who would never in a million years tell their child they’re going to hell. Who would never for any reason tell their child to try and change who he is and be miserable for the rest of his life instead of embracing himself and being who he is meant to be.

You think only about what your perception of Christ is. But Christ is not about judgement, or hell fire, or anything but love. Love, even for people who don’t believe. Christ showed love to the non-believers, not judgement, not threats of hell fire. If Christ spoke to me he wouldn’t say “Jesse, if you don’t change who you are, you will burn in hell.” He would say “Love one another as I have loved you.”

You are so caught up in your tiny perception of Christianity, fueled by television evangelists and money-grubbing schemes, that you’ve lost the point of the whole thing: one commanded I give to you, love another as I have loved you. You don’t seem to understand what that means. A loving mother does not say to her son, “Don’t come crying to my when you’re hungry,” or “You’re not my problem,” “or “You’re nothing but a thorn in my side,” or “If people were calling me a fag, I wouldn’t be a fag,” or “You’re going to hell,” or “You’re possessed by a demon!” Those are not things that a rational person with a rational mind would say or think.

So, respect you? How can I? How I would love to respect you, to have a relationship with you, but just like my father, you’ve turned your back on me. You’ve told me that I’m not good enough because of who I am. I can’t keep coming to your house and not mentioning the fact that I’m gay or that I’m not Christian, knowing that it will cause you to on a tirade and yell at me about fire and brimstone, telling me stories about Sodom and Gomorrah that you yourself don’t really understand. There are people in the world who aren’t Christian, and they live happy, successful lives. You live in a vacuum of denial, because you’re miserable with your life. You married someone for their money and not for love, and now you’re trapped in a loveless marriage and you’re trying to replace those feelings with things, like all these rings and jewelry you have Lee buy for you. You preach to people about Christ’s forgiveness, but you show none to other people. You yell at your daughter to be compassionate, yet you show her no compassion when she cries her little heart out. You say you’re proud of me, that I’m your favorite, that I’m talented, but then you call me names, you tell me I’ll burn in hell, you judge me and criticize me, both of which I would remind you are sins.

And more than anything, you chose to give love and support to the man who abused me as a child. On his death bed, you brought him home, you took him into your own house where both me and my sister were, and sat around talking to him, asked me to play piano for him, had Brianna call him “paw paw,” and then you even set up his funeral service, made a memorial to him, and read a eulogy for him. This was the man who hurt and abused me in the most heinous possible way as a child, and you chose to show him compassion and forgiveness and love, rather than putting him in prison where he belongs. It’s possible that I could forgive you for calling me names. It’s possible that I could forgive you for telling me I’d burn in hell. But I say this without any anger toward you, this is simply the truth, you betrayed and destroyed me when you brought your father down here from Georgia, sheltered him, cared for him, called him “Daddy” and looked at him as though he were a sweet old man, when in fact he was a monster who terrorized you, me, your mother, and everyone he ever met.

If I had been in your shoes, mom, and I were you, and I found out Jerrie were on his death bed… people would have had to hold me back to keep me from going up there and pulling the plug on his ass. Instead you chose to treat him as though he deserved your kindness. You blame what he did to me on a “demon,” or “the devil possessing him,” or “he was an alcoholic,” or “his mind wasn’t right.” Those are excuses. He made a choice to take me out into those woods and rape me. If you’ve forgotten, he raped your four-year old son. And you chose to stand by him in his final hours, you chose to officiate his funeral, you chose to bring him into your house and introduce him to my little sister, which you had NO business doing.

My father, crazy though he might be, at least had the decency to hate that man. You chose to love him. And you made your choice. You picked him over me. And when I told you this, years ago, you said “What does it matter? You don’t love me anyway!”

Think back. All of those tiny little hurtful things you’ve said over the years have remained in my mind. I remember when you came up behind me on the couch in our blue house and pulled my hair, I remember when you pushed me in my chest and knocked me down on my bed, I remember when you screamed and screamed, when you called me a freak, when you told me I was a thorn in your side, when you told me I was possessed by the devil. And I even watched those videos on your phone you said you didn’t want me to see until you were dead, where you go on and on about how I need to change who I am, how I’m allowing the spirit of the devil inside of me.

You’re just an empty person, mom. You’ve lost everything. You lost your first son, you lost your first husband to madness, your second husband to death, and you lost your mother. You got into a marriage you didn’t really care about and you try to fill this big void in your heart with material things, and with religion. You spend all your energy researching the bible, but you don’t even understand what the bible is about. It isn’t about “speaking in tongues,” or the judgement, or the end of the world, or even salvation. The message of the entire Bible is summarized in Christ’s words at the last supper: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” Love will never be a sin. You have been led to believe it, but it isn’t so.

But that’s all your problems, and I can’t handle them for you. Nothing I’ve said here has been out of anger or rage. I’m not mad right now. I’m not seething with anger or throwing things, I’m very calm, and I’m speaking to you from my heart. I am sorry for you. I wish that life had been better to you. I wish you hadn’t lost so many things you hold dear. I wish you didn’t suffer so much. I wish you didn’t feel so alone. I wish you didn’t have so much to worry about. I wish your health weren’t failing you. You may think I’m cold and heartless, but I’m a very open, loving, and caring person. But you have spent years upon years hardening my heart toward you, and no amount of small apologies will ever fix that. Only your actions can show that you love me, and your actions have been actions of hate. Mothers don’t kick their sons out of their homes. Mothers don’t threaten to call the cops on their sons. Hell, mother’s don’t actually DO it either. Mothers don’t tell their children they’ll burn in hell. Mothers don’t tell their children they’re possessed. You know a lot about how to be Cissy the person, but you’ve never known how to be Cissy the mother. You gave Brian up, and your reasons may have been justifiable, but when you had me, you were given another chance to be a mother. You claim you protected me, but it’s taken me a long time to come to a conclusion.

You knew what your father was like. You grew up around him. You’d heard the stories from your mother. You knew he couldn’t be trusted, yet you let me go out and be alone with him anyway. The truth is, I never blamed you for being molested or raped, whatever you want to call it, but now that I look back on it, now that I know that you knew at the time what a monster he was because of what he’d done to you and your family, because he even told your mother he’d had sex with you girls, you should have known better than to send me out into the woods with him. And when it did happen, you should have pursued him and made sure his ass got put in jail for the rest of his life, not just left it up in the air. You didn’t want to “put me through” being on trial? Why? I had to talk about it to a million therapists anyway, why not have me talk about it to a judge so that man could get justice?

You were weak, and selfish. You have always, essentially, been selfish. You’ve done for us, yes, but at your core you’ve been a selfish person, because you’re scared. I don’t know what of. Oh, you can tell me that I”m “Greg Williford” all over again, but I’m not diagnosing you with disorders you don’t have or making up a past for you that you didn’t have. I’ve seen you, all this time, I’ve seen your actions. You say you’re kind and giving, but you can be remarkably cruel, particularly to your own children. You say you want to get away from your family’s drama, but you relish in hearing all of their gossip. You say you want to lead a Christian life, but you do nothing but give money to TV preachers and go to Joyce Meyer seminars. That’s not what being a Christian is about. And even worse, you’re hurting my sister with the way you treat me. It breaks her heart to hear you tell me I’ll go to hell, or tell me I’m a fag. It breaks her heart to see you treat me the way you do, but you don’t care about that. You just have to be right.

Well I’m sorry, but I can’t be your punching bag anymore. As a child, you leaned on me. As a little kid, when there were troubles in your marriage, you came and talked to me, a child, about them, and held me and cried. You did it my whole life. I was too young for you to do that. Because of you, I’m afraid of the world. All the hatred, bitterness, rage and anger in the world that you’ve warned me about, I’ve seen it all in you. I’m too sensitive to be gay? No, I’m perfect, just the way I am, and that’s what a real mother would say. I have friends who are old enough to be my mother who tell me every day that I’m great, that I can accomplish anything, that I’m a wonderful person just the way I am. It hurts me that for some reason you can’t do the same.

Do I need your help? Yeah, I really do. I’ve got a mountain of debt at my bank, my tags are going to expire next month, I have a car payment and rent due, and I still haven’t found another job. Do I need money? Do I need a job with you? Hell yeah. But what cost would I have to pay? Even if you told me you genuinely loved and accepted me for who I am I wouldn’t believe it. In the short time I’ve been away from you, cutting you out of my life, I’ve felt strong, confident, and hopeful, for the first time in my whole life. Your anger, your rage, your sadness and your misery drag down those around you, and it’s turning your daughter away from you. She’s beginning to see what kind of person you are, and I don’t think she likes it. I can’t speak for her, but all I ask is that you try and treat her better than you did me. Stop calling her names. Stop putting her down. Stop telling her she isn’t enough. Build that child up. Tell her that she’s beautiful, that she’s capable of anything, that she’s great, just how she is! That’s what a mother does.

I guess there’s nothing else to say. In the end, I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry that your life has been so hard. But it’s your burden to bear, not mine, not Brianna’s, not Brian’s, not Lee’s, not Greg’s. It’s yours. And YOU must live with it, not me. I have to move forward with my life. And one day, when I’m a success, I’m sad that I won’t be able to look back and see you as someone who pushed me forward, who helped me to become great, I’ll see you a stumbling block set in my path to test me, and that’s a real shame. I’m sorry for you, but I can’t bear your burdens or your sorrows anymore. Keep your prayers, you don’t know how to pray. Keep your money, you dont’ know how to love. Keep your love, because it’s dysfunctional and it isn’t truly love, it’s need, need for another person, and I can’t be your crutch forever. I hope you find some fulfillment in your life. I hope you do well. But I have to go on without you. You have proven to me that you’ll never truly love me. I go forward in life thinking of you not as a loving mother, but as an unfortunate setback in my life. I wish I could love you, I wish I could forgive you, but I can’t. And I’m sorry for that.

May you find some peace within yourself someday, and may you realize the deep harm and sadness you’ve inflicted upon me. Goodbye.

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Family

My Tori Amos collection has grown by two CDs: one album, Under the Pink, and the Hey Jupiter EP.

Under the Pink is Tori’s second album, the followup to 1992’s Little Earthquakes. Funny story: before I ever really knew who Tori was, I actually found two mint condition copies of Under the Pink, as well as the Crucify EP (and since it didn’t include Smells Like Teen Spirit, it has to have been an international version), and I bought none of them. That’s right, I left them all there, assuming that Tori would turn out to be another Annie Lennox: I’d get excited, decide to buy all  of her albums, and then decide she wasn’t quite my style, and I’d have another CD I didn’t want. I probably would have enjoyed Under the Pink had I bought it then, I’ve heard a few people say that this is the best of Amos’ albums to start with. It walks a fine line between the somewhat radio-friendly sounds of Little Earthquakes and the off-kilter obscurity of Boys For Pele. It also has Cornflake Girl, one of my favorites which includes an awesome piano breakdown in the bridge.

In preparation for the arrival of Under the Pink (I bought it on eBay), I downloaded the music video for the album’s first track, Pretty Good Year. Later on, in the Boys For Pele era, Tori would release a music video for the remix of Professional Widow, featuring clips from all of her videos up to that point. I couldn’t help but notice that some of the clips were of Tori in a white dress doing choreography, and choreography seems quite out of the norm for her. I, of course, love choreography, and constantly make music videos in my head that include it. Anyway, the choreography clip was from Pretty Good Year, during this awesome moment in the bridge where the song transforms from a soft ballad to a screaming, rocking anthem, and then back again.

The second new addition is the Hey Jupiter EP, the title track of which isn’t the album version, but a remix called the Dakota Version. This is also the version used in the music video, the version featured on her retrospective collection A Piano, and generally seems to be the one listened to the most. It seems to me almost every single from Boys For Pele was remixed when it became a single; that doesn’t surprise me since much of Pele is very out in left field as far as radio goes. The remixes aren’t always a bad thing though, I’ve heard the original version of Talula and I think it’s terrible compare to the Tornado Mix.

The rest of the EP is live performances. Sugar and Honey are both B-sides from Under the Pink, the former about a cafe boy who couldn’t remember how many sugars Tori liked in her tea after serving her for nine months, and the latter Tori says is her favorite song from Under the Pink, but it was cut during mastering. The next track is a live performance of the Merry Widow version of Professional Widow. This is a very different take on Professional Widow, slow, brooding, and emotional, with Tori literally screaming through the bridge, and the entire song is backed by a harmonium. She jokingly mentions before beginning the song that the last time she tried singing it she “gave myself a brain annurism.” The final track is my favorite, a cover of Over the Rainbow. Having been a fan of Evanescence, I’m too used to seeing the word “haunting” attached to songs, and I wouldn’t say that it is haunting in my opinion, I just find it to be very emotional. This rarely happens, but I actually can’t seem to hear the song without tearing up, and that’s special because not every song effects me like that. It’s very soft, very quiet, very vulnerable, scared, and wishing.

As for the Tori Amos material I already have, I’ve basically given up on listening to A Piano: The Collection, because I want to hear the originals before I hear their remastered versions. Even though many of the songs stay true to their originals, I would still prefer to hear them on their respective albums first, and then if I ever get the collection, I’ll enjoy it a lot more.

I’ve revisited Tales of a Librarian, and found that after some time away from it I’ve found that it’s grown on me. I still think it’s not the best of Tori Amos’ albums to start with, the feeling is too country for my tastes. The album isn’t without it’s own original material though: Angels and Snow Cherries From France are new tracks, while earlier B-Sides Sweet Dreams and Mary were completely redone for this collection. Tales of a Librarian also features the radio edit of Armand Van Helden’s Star Trunk Funkin’ remix of Professional Widow, which was included on the second re-release of Boys For Pele and the Professional Widow single.

American Doll Posse is finally beginning to grow on me, the album is radically different from Tori’s earlier works, particularly Boys For Pele, which is almost entirely instruments and vocals, with little to no studio work really done. Every now and then a bass guitar shows up, but for the most part, Boys For Pele is piano, harpsichord, and vocals. American Doll Posse comes off as being over-produced upon the first listen, but after some time the songs do begin to grow on you. Tori did say that A Piano was the end of an era, and that American Doll Posse was a step in a new direction. Her tenth album, Abnormally Attracted to Sin, seems to be just as studio-focused as it’s predecessor, and while it is kind of a shame that Tori probably won’t be making another Under the Pink any time soon, it is good to know that she refuses to become a fading memory in the mind of the music world, and that she’s trying to stay current and explore new composition styles.

In personal news, I had a brief chat with the owner of my local bookstore, he saw me wandering and asked if there was anything he could help me find. I fecetiously replied, “A job,” and he told me to fill out an application and call him. Now, that’s something that managers usually say, but he also went as far as to ask if I had a problem working in the cafe. I don’t think he would have been so thorough about it if they didn’t need new help. This is actually the job I’ve always wanted, but as it would happen I’ve had a really fucked up past week.

Emotionally, that is. I have problems with panic/anxiety/stress/etc. and they usually rear their ugly head when I’m out in public. Now they’re starting to take over my whole life. I’m having small panic attacks all the time, regardless of where I am, even in my room which is usually my sanctuary. I’ve had a hard time this week trying to stop thinking about it, and I feel a little better now that I’ve gotten away from my house, but still, it’s becoming a serious problem that I can’t handle on my own anymore. I need medication. I know that sounds like a quick fix, but it isn’t. I want a psychologist, I want someone I can really talk to about all this and get all of this off of my chest, and if need be, I want medication. I want to be able to get in a car or walk into the grocery store without feeling like I’m going to pass out, without my vision blurring, and without my heart beating out of my chest. It’s not fair, I’ve dealt with this for 3 years now and I need it to stop. I just want to be able to feel normal, like I did before I ever passed out in the middle of my classroom in 11th grade, when my life was forever changed, and I would spend every day until this very moment fearing for my health.

And that’s really what it comes down to: fear. If I’m not afraid, I don’t have any significant problems. If I am afraid, the terror follows me around, looming over me and casting a shadow on everything I do. I can’t be brave by myself all the time anymore, I need help. I need someone who knows what I’m going through and knows how to combat it to give me the tools to stop it. I don’t expect it to go away by magic, but I have to have the help I need to be able to get a job and live my own life. If not, my relationship is going to fall apart, and I’m going to become just like the rest of my family: an overgrown child. I already am.

I hate to say those things about myself, if for no other reason than because I know my mother would agree with them. Have I ever mentioned my mother? I hate her. Sometimes I can get along with her, sometimes I even find her pleasant, but when it comes down to it, I hate her in a way so deeply that I can’t stop myself from hating her. And it’s her fault. I know it’s unhealthy to blame your problems on other people, but the majority of my problems are her fault. She’s exactly the opposite of everything I think a parent should be. She has, for half of my life now, disrespected, humiliated and deeply hurt me in ways that I think I’m probably going to spend a lot of time getting over. She is the reason I have stress problems, both because I inherited them from her and because she taught me to fear life, and most importantly to fear her. I honestly have many times wished that she were dead. Because my life would be a lot brighter if she were. Not physically, because I wouldn’t have anyone supporting me, and yes, she does support me, and no, I am not happy about that. The problem is, she never taught me how to be an adult, because I don’t think she really knows how to be one herself. She didn’t raise me, she just kept me fed and clothed, and because she’s become crazier with age, she’s ruined my sister, who now is an entitled brat because her mother has always given her anything she wants. If myself and my brother are any indication, my sister might realize what kind of a person my mother is one day and try to fix all the problems she’s already created for her, but I have a feeling that in the end I’m going to be living somewhere far away from my family with no contact with them at all, and my sister along with the rest of my family will be conditioned to hate me.

Family. I don’t know what that really means. But one day, I’d like to create my own. I’d like to raise a child and teach them about truth, I’d like to try and bring a person into the world who has the ability to question, someone who isn’t fooled by society, someone who yearns to bring love and peace to the human race as much as I do. And maybe he wouldn’t hate society, or humans as a whole, the way I do. Maybe he’d be better than me, because I would give him a chance to flourish. I am a brilliant flower blooming amongst a family of weeds, and I hate them for being who they are.