How Long Have I Been Falling?

I’ve heard of writing until it hurts. I had believed before that I had done this. But even the thought of writing what I am about to write makes me start to cry, makes my heart ache as though it had been hit so hard it has bruised, beating faithfully and semirythmically, but weaker and so very tired.

I can’t tell you how the  argument began. I can’t tell you word for word what was said, at least not the words that started it all. I can recall only the basics of the fight that  has forever changed how I will see my mother, the fight that occurred hardly an hour ago.

It is nearing 9:00PM on this Saturday night, and I am sitting in my mother’s room, on her bed, talking about her work schedule and seeing Batwoman. I mentioned wanting to take my education a step further and, once I had the needed classes from UTPA under my belt, trying to get into Harvard Medical School. A pattern that had been knitting and curving itself into place about this subject arose again, in the form of her suddenly speaking up about how she had been wanting to move to an area near the campus anyway.

Things escalated quickly from that point.

I knew in the back of my mind it was a bad idea to bring up the pattern. But I did anyway, gently at first, testing her reaction. Like a child dipping a single toe into the ocean to be certain it contained neither chill nor monster. I knew her eyes were watering up, but she remained logical. So I pushed until I shoved the entire bit off the edge into an abysmal hole. She suddenly changed, she sat upright in such a swift, frozen manner that it was nearly robotic. It was in response to a comment I made about not coming home for holidays. About this being my last year at home.

She started quietly speaking something, as though in denial. Within seconds, her voice rose and turned from a theme of self-comforting denial to uncensored rage.

She walked into the hallway, I followed. Normally I would remember more, but I can only see fragments now. Blame it on the hypothyroidism, blame it on my anxiety suppressing my memories, blame it on my refusal to take a long, long look at the most heartbreaking moment of my 17 years. But I can only recall certain truths.

She said I was stupid. She said I was crazy. She said I needed a therapist because something is very, very wrong with me. She mocked my voice from when I told her about my panic attack in church. She told me to go ahead and pack up and leave her, she doesn’t care, just go.

People say things when they’re angry. But she has never said this to me with such fury and scathing venom before. I just stood in the hallway. Watching her pace from the laundry room into her bedroom and back. I started yelling eventually. No, not yelling. I was screaming bloody murder with everything in me. Shouting and screeching until my voice became rough as gravel, and even then I screamed still. My eyes stung from the mascara staining my eyelids and slipping into my eyes themselves. In frustration I wiped the tears away but sobs stopped any coherent argument from ensuing. I didn’t stop, though. I kept screaming. She kept screaming. It became a contest to see who could prove they had the most ammo against the other, and who could fire it with the most precision and velocity, inflict enough flesh wounds and hit the heart first. Stopping it cold before walking away, back against the flames that would be set to demonstrate an ultimate tone of finality.

I’m a brat. I am bitter. I am selfish.

She won’t listen. She is bitter. She is selfish.

I’m ungrateful. I’m not thinking. I won’t talk to my father.

She doesn’t understand. She’s not thinking. I will never talk to my father.

I don’t communicate. I should cling to them. I should go and not look back.

She doesn’t remain calm when I communicate. I need to run. I should go and not look back.

We took turns for a minute about who hurt who the most. I went to my room and she returned several times to scream about something not entirely relevant, but that had been brewing for some time so she took the moment to scream about it too while the moment was fresh and she could get away with it. Somewhere in the fight I told her that I couldn’t say how I will feel when I’m gone, if I will or will not want to come back. She said again that there must be something twisted because what child would never visit their family. How could I do such a thing, after all the sacrifices, this is the thanks she gets…

I told her I would never see her the same way again.

She said then it will be much easier to turn my back on her.

She went downstairs and spoke to my father, getting him to tell her she is, indeed, right. I must be crazy. We need family therapy.

I wondered for a moment if I regretted starting the whole thing. I expected myself to say “Yes, I wish I hadn’t set this entire mess into motion.” But instead I heard a firm no. Because now I know. I know why in the back of my mind sits a censor who tells me to only keep conversation with my mom on a happy note. Nothing serious. Never speak of leaving. All mothers hate thinking of their children gone, ect., So what made me do it? Set into motion what I did? Perhaps because I’ve been trying to inch my way into the topic for a long time, and I thought tonight she was calm enough to handle it. Logical enough. I knew she wouldn’t be happy, I expected a few tears. But not what happened. I could have never anticipated this.

I feel…empty but whole. Aware but standing still, the moment frozen in something blurry and suspended. The crash long but soon passed, and now the smoke slowly rises, lingering in the air. Any breath of oxygen thick with a unidenifiable powder, a crushed remnant of whatever once stood in the open air before its descent into the darkness. A cremated form of life that once was.

How can I explain this to Heather? What am I supposed to say to mom when I wake up and discover we live under the same roof still?

I’m frozen. A suspended cloud of powder rising from a gory crash at the bottom of a not-so-bottomless pit. Perhaps I did not fall tonight. Perhaps I have been falling for a long time, and only now have I discovered the ground, the impact, the aftermath. And how little could have been done to stop it.

–Hannah-Elizabeth

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7 thoughts on “How Long Have I Been Falling?

  1. You seem that you started and participated elevating the argument to the levels described. It is sad that feeling are held in until these types of moments present. At least you both know where you stand. If you have the calling and ability to be a doctor, let nothing prevent that. You become something very much greater than a mere family member. Your mother should appreciate that. She is afraid of losing her daughter and the separation and distance will cause her misery. But the umbilical cord must be cut. A mother that has raised a child that will be a doctor has given something very valuable to the world and she will become appreciative in time. Perhaps you should share the poem “Nancy Hanks”

    • You are right, on many counts. I need to really learn about choosing my battles and being more cautious about how I approach the topic with my mom, thanks, Carl. And thank you for mentioning that poem 🙂

  2. You know what, don’t blame yourself for this. Your mother, no matter what, is an adult and should have not lost her temper like that. Not saying she should be perfect, but I hope she calms down and realises she’s got a great intelligent daughter.
    I hate reading such things because I cringe at how some parents behave. I’m not saying younger people should get away with yelling etc, but surely, she’s the one who should have stopped and taken account of what she was doing.
    Hate adults saying “YOU started this…” Let’s always blame the teenagers or the children, because you know, adults are perfect…yeah right….

    • I just feel like I should have known better. There have been a lot of times where I’ve felt that I was protecting her and ‘raising’ her, that I feel like I must have done wrong by her because I wasn’t as careful as I should have been, I must have known better, I don’t know what I was thinking. I remember I tried lowering my voice during the argument, because then it would get her to lower hers, but then she would say something – assume something even though she doesn’t know as much about me as I want her to. And I would lose it… It was just a mess.

  3. I remember having a huge blowout fight with my mother the year before I left for school as well. It happens.

    Like Alannah said, she’s the adult. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

    Things will calm down and be ok if they haven’t already started to.

    • I suppose what struck me the most was that she spoke to me the same way she spoke to Violet during their last big fight (my mentally ill half-cousin who lived with us for two weeks). I know you’re right on that count, though, the thought of this being my last year at home is no doubt taking an emotional toll on her. We are speaking, but it’s still tense, it’s like we’re taking turns shutting each other out. In a terrible way I’m okay with this.
      Thanks Thoughts 🙂

  4. Pingback: Getting There To Look Back | The Last Classic

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