Birmingham (and Sherri) Unchained

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.

Love yourself.
Find peace inside.
Share happiness.

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6 Responses

  1. Shermika says:

    Life is about finding peace. First, thank you for sharing something that is deeply personal with a bunch of judgmental strangers…I’m semi serious about the judgmental part. Trust me, they’ll say, “how can she,” and blah blah blah. I commend you for your honesty and bravery. Writing is a part of the healing process. We all have problems with our family members. However, it is up to you to choose whether to mend the relationship. I can feel the pain that is there and I understand where you are coming from. Thank you for sharing. Keep sharing your happiness as well! Love that.

  2. I’m sorry you didn’t get to have a close relationship with your mother. Sometimes though that can be a blessing, especially when they are bent on hurting those around them. Hopefully she will turn her life around and then seek you out to have a new relationship. I believe they were touring our area a few weeks ago as well. I was leaving work and saw a crazy bus parked out there. We have things happening all the time so I didn’t think much of it. I guess I should have stuck around.

  3. natepost says:

    Oh, Sherri! I did not know your background, but I do know what bravery it takes to unveil these parts of yourself for the world to. I applaud you, and hope that incredibly innocent, 7 year old feels complete pleasure in herself as she roams this world, and her new city!

  4. camarks says:

    Oh sweet baby girl! I love you. I know exactly what you mean but my story is different. But it still deals with a lack of parenting in my life even though both of them are still alive. Whew!! I do feel your pain because I have it too. Not that I am trying to diminish yours, I just want you to know you are not alone. I’ve tried the therapy route as well and blah blah blah but sometimes, I think, we just need to tell OUR truth and be done with it and not worry about what is normal or what others think of us. I love you even more for putting this out there. FYI, my story doesn’t deal with alcoholism in my parents (no, that’d be me) but it was other things. I’m putting it in the novel I am writing.

  5. Honesty, integrity and compassion make the most beautiful of stories. Thank you for sharing yours.

  1. January 18, 2013

    […] been a magical day, which was especially welcome after my emotion level last night. I didn’t get much sleep because of it and am beat. Much to tell, not enough energy to write […]

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