Tonight I joined two lovely friends to see the Unchained Tour at DISCO as it passed through Birmingham. It is a night of music, story telling, and community that fills local bookstores and shops as it makes its way around. They are self-proclaimed raconteurs and the description fits them perfectly, right down to the Partridge family style bus (but a lot more original and beautiful) that they travel in. The evening was perfect..right up until I started crying uncontrollably. One of the women told a story about her fondest memory of living with her alcoholic mother. Those of you who know me know that I’m in the same boat. Those of you that don’t, well there you go. Thankfully I didn’t grow up with my mother for most of my life and was able to escape a lot of the madness, heartache, and pain that my sister had to deal with. However, I definitely had my moments with her – sometimes a year’s (or five) worth of slurring, falling, and yelling all rolled into my annual visit to her. Most of the time it wasn’t that bad when I visited, but I eventually grew to hate the alcohol and her. As the raconteur told her story tonight it took everything I had not to leave. I was on the verge of tears, I was angry for thinking about my mom and letting that affect my evening negatively. I had been having such a lovely time. But it was done. I couldn’t control it and I let it wash over me. After they wrapped up the show, I went up to talk to her and thank her for telling her story. I’m sure I’m one of a million people who have come up to her to say “I’ve been there” and “Thank you for telling my story for me,” but she was gracious enough to make me feel like I was the only one. As she hugged me, she saw tears welling in my eyes and hugged me harder at which I point I just let go. Right there in front of an entire, well-lit room of perfect strangers and some friends. She hugged me again and confessed she had gotten all her crying out that afternoon while thinking of telling her story.
During intermission, they invited audience members to submit their names to tell a 1 minute story of their own. The theme for tonight’s local storytellers was “family.” I quickly jumped at the idea of trying my hand at telling a personal story in front of everyone until I realized that the stories I were likely to tell were angry ones about my mother. I didn’t need (or want) to tell a roomful of strangers that. So I guess instead I’m telling you. I would say I have a million of them, but the truth is that I haven’t seen her a million times. I moved to live with father when I was 7 and saw her once a year after that. The past few years she has gotten progressively worse and I don’t care to even be around her. I know I’m a horrible daughter for saying that or feeling that way, but it is what it is. I tried to love her and I did (and I do) but I’m exhausted. And, honestly, I have gotten very little from her. I’ve fought it for years, I’ve gone to therapy, I’ve screamed, I’ve cried – I’m still crying – but I do not want that “drama” in my life anymore. I have to do what’s best for me. And, although she’s my mother, she never was much of one to me (I’m sorry if that offends any of you) so I’m not much of a daughter anymore. I’m glad she had me, but that’s where my gratitude ends with her.
There’s my story. Maybe one day it will change (again) and I’ll feel differently. Maybe one day I’ll want to try – yet again – to have a relationship. But every time so far it has crumbled. I know it’s not just her – love is a two-way street and all the emotion that comes with it. But I truly feel like I tried a hundred times and was let down or hurt every time. I’m done.
The show tonight was happy, touching, sad, funny, angry, loving, moving, and a million things in between. I will admit that I left feeling angry and sad, but I left FEELING. And I think that’s all the storytellers wanted. Thank you, Annie.
Find peace inside.