I had to finish up the part of the story that I am prepared to tell at this time. It has a happy ending so I know you will all be happy to find out what happens.
Chapter 6 – Growing Up
Alice did well at her new home...at first. She felt like she fit in somewhere. She was part of a family. She was valued as a person. Then slowly, she began to feel like maybe this all wasn’t really real. Little by little her boyfriend’s family became less friendly. Little by little they stopped paying attention to her. She felt as if she were becoming part of the furniture. Even Steve was treating her like she was an old hat because he saw her every day. This wasn’t turning on the way she had envisioned at all. Things were the same here as they were at home. Everyone asked something of her, but no one was giving anything in return. She was the hired help and her pay was room and board.
How could she get out of this mess she had created for herself? It would mean breaking up with Steve. It would mean groveling to her mother, if she would even talk to her. What to do, what to do? Each day the dread in the pit of her stomach grew heavier until she felt as if she may not be able to ever get up again. Finally Alice knew what she had to do. She swallowed her pride, picked up the phone and called her mom.
“Um, hi…Mom…um, how are you?” she said. Mom returned a curt reply and Alice knew she was sunk. She would really have to figure out how to make things okay again. She decided to start slow and work her way up. Acting as if this were just a friendly call to say hello. That lasted about five minutes before Mom said “Are you ready to come home now?” Alice began to cry. She sobbed into the phone how sorry she was for leaving and could she please come back home. Mom answered “I’ll be there shortly” and hung up the phone.
That car ride was the longest ride of her life. Mom didn’t say anything at all the entire way home. Alice didn’t even know how to break the ice or cut through the tension. When they got home, Mom pulled into the drive way and let Alice have it. “How dare you leave me” she began. This baffled Alice a little, but she was too afraid to say anything. Mom kept going on and on about how disappointed she was in Alice’s behavior and why couldn’t she see how she was hurting her family.
After about an hour, Mom finally stopped lecturing and turned to Alice. “Alice, you know I love you more than anything in the world, right?” Alice wasn’t sure how to answer. If she told Mom that she felt like her only purpose there was to take care of her mother, it wouldn’t go well, so Alice smiled weakly and said “yeah Mom, I love you too and I’m sorry”.
Things went back to normal pretty quickly, but every few weeks Mom would bring out the old wound of Alice’s betrayal and examine it again, with Alice, for hours. She would lecture again about how it hurt her and how abandoned she felt with Alice gone. There was nobody there and she was all alone. As soon as she knew Mom was winding down, Alice would slip away with an excuse about the bathroom or laundry or anything she could find to get away from where she was.
Finally the big day came and Alice was graduating high school. She had a job and a plan to make it on her own as quickly as she could. Before the snow fell at Christmas she was making her own home in an apartment. It was so small that it didn’t even really have a bedroom. They called it an efficiency. The only thing that was efficient about it was that it was so small it took hardly any time to clean. The carpets were dingy and threadbare, she had lawn chairs for furniture, but she didn’t care, she was on her own.
Mom would come by weekly to inspect how Alice was doing. She always managed some sort of dig about how Alice’s apartment was arranged. “Don’t you think that chair should go over there instead” or “why don’t you put the glasses in the other cupboard by the dishwasher?” Mom could never just come by to visit with Alice. It was always an offer for Alice to come back home.
Alice would hold her tongue until she felt as if she would bite it off and then the next fight would come. “Why won’t you leave me alone?” “Why isn’t anything I do ever right or good enough?” Alice didn’t realize it until many years later that Mom was scared and drowning. Without Alice, who was she? What was she supposed to do now? For years this dance played on and nobody was ever in the lead yet there was never anybody willing to follow either.
Chapter 7 – Finding her way
It was Christmas time. Alice and her mom had managed to go a few months without any fighting. Maybe this would be a turning point for their relationship. Maybe they could get through the holidays without any tears. Sadly, this was anything but the truth. Mom called Alice on Christmas morning to tell her that she wouldn’t be coming over. It seems that Alice didn’t appreciate her so she was going to stay away so she wouldn’t have to be ignored or endure Alice’s abuse.
Alice stood there with her mouth open for a long while. What Mom had said was true, but it was the exact opposite. Alice had endured years of being abused and ignored by her mother. No more. Alice didn’t call Mom back that day. She didn’t call her the next day either. Day after day the silence went on and Alice began to feel liberated. The weekend rolled around and Alice didn’t have to call Mom to synchronize their plans. She could do whatever she wanted. It.Was.Awesome!
She realized then that she had allowed her mother to control her life for so long, that she wasn’t sure how to really live it alone. Little by little she gathered her strength and like a baby bird, really stepped out of the nest on her own to fly for the first time. Fly she did and she was really good at it.
Eventually Mom called Alice again to check on her. It was a awkward call to say the least. Alice just let her hang on the line. She didn’t apologize. She didn’t make the first move or take the first step. Mom continued on about how she had been feeling down because the holidays were here and she was all alone. Alice just let her vent. Let her get it all out without saying really much of anything. She didn’t try to fix her mom or resolve the issues. She just listened.
An amazing thing happed then. Mom finished her conversation without yelling at Alice. She resolved her own hurt feelings and they were on speaking terms again. It was like a miracle. This opened a new door between Alice and her mom. A door to a grown up relationship that promised to be different than the relationship they’d had in the past. Alice walked through that door with a smile on her face and a song in her heart. She would finally have a real relationship with her mother.