“Oh god! Oh god! Oh god!” Mother is crying out, punctuated by her boy-husband, Motherfucker’s grunts. The window’s open so that the entire neighborhood can receive each explosive thrust of this howling tryst, especially Father well within earshot just next door. Wheels on the metal bed frame are catching air, slam slam slamming against the floor. The second floor. Beneath ground zero, my friend, Steve, gives up, gets up from the couch he was trying to sleep on in the living room and goes to my room where I’m laying in a fetal position with a pillow wrapped around my head, also trying to ignore the punishing humpfest upstairs.
“Are they ever gonna stop?” He asks, exasperated.
Steve wasn’t the first sleepover friend to endure the “my friend’s mother in full rut” experience. Unless Sister had other girls spending the night, Mother and Motherfucker would go at it hard with reckless abandon.
Now that I think about it, perhaps Motherfucker was restating his male dominance to other young bucks by ejaculating on the cookie so no one else would want it, figuratively speaking? If so, he was showboating for young teens and tweens, not to mention the children of his prized semen receptacle. Still, Mother did behave like a flirty little schoolgirl, fellow middle-schoolers would check her ass, my friends all told me she was hot and one girlfriend confessed that she wanted to have sex with her so maybe Motherfucker had good reason to be insecure after all.
But it wasn’t any better when friends weren’t over. Sister’s room was directly below the point of entry where Motherfucker was jackhammering Mother above her. Sister, around 10 years old, would yell up the stairs, “Can you please keep it down up there?!” Later, there’d be hushed voices. “Do you think she knows what we’re doing?” Fuck! She’s not deaf (though, like the rest of us, I’m sure she wishes she could’ve been for these jizz blasting sessions) so how could she not know!?
Mother was weird about sex and would point out curious developments in her children with all the subtlety of a small child and none of the adorableness. She kept Penthouse pornographic magazines “for the stories” and her and Sister would taunt me with them as they were paraded to the trash. Mother once remarked how Sister was “budding,” embarrassing her in front of all of her friends. Sister burst into tears. Mother giggled. She would tell us that she didn’t even get pubic hair until she was in tenth grade, presumably unlike all the young women with ’70s bush in those days. Speaking of hair, she openly marveled at my underarm hair when we went swimming one summer. That same day, she started pointing out young women and yelling across the park at me, “There’s a good one for you, Tarraccas!” Humiliating! She just giggled.
Who Is The Fairest Of Them All?
And, boy, did Mother know how to pick ’em! She was a nurse for a time and kept trying to hook me up with her coworkers. One of them was 400lbs, had short cropped blond hair and a mustache above her scowl. I actually met another gem she endorsed, a young woman with green and black festering gums who told me she was getting all her teeth pulled later that year. Great!
“Oh, it’s what’s on the inside that counts,” Mother would say. This from a woman who was “in love” with a man who routinely said he’d leave her if she ever got fat. To his credit, Motherfucker began to vet Mother’s terrible picks. It was like she was trying to sabotage me so she didn’t have to compete somehow with someone younger, prettier and nicer than her.
Not surprisingly, I guess, Mother hated all my girlfriends who were nice to me and absolutely loved the evil one who treated me the absolute worst. Mother made her gifts, they became BFFs, chatting it up on the phone after this girl punched me in the face, fucked around on me and dumped me to go fuck over my friend. When I confronted Mother about it, telling her how wounded this wicked bitch left me, Mother responded, “You don’t tell me who I can be friends with. I can be friends with whomever I want.”
What?! Like I’m the parent and she’s the rebellious teen?
Parenting Narcissistic Parents
Well, yeah! Essentially, my siblings and I were parenting ourselves and our mother; what’s known as emotional or covert incest (not to be confused with sexual incest). She was a kid just like us. A perpetual Peter Pan and we were her lost children. Her friends would drop her off drunk after partying and I’d help her stumble back into the house. She began listening to the same music I did, even went to a Def Leppard concert without me in spite of knowing that it was my favorite band at the time. It’s no small blessing that she hated Pantera and Mr. Bungle by the time Motherfucker arrived with his collection of Grateful Dead bootlegs. Even years later, she described her relationship with the girl she and Motherfucker adopted as being “like sisters.” She wasn’t only trying to be the cool mom, she was trying to be the cool chick.
We didn’t develop healthy boundaries because Mother didn’t develop any boundaries, much less respect any. Privacy was not something she practiced. If I was lucky, she’d knock on whatever door I was behind as she was opening it, even as an adult with a lady friend. She’d just come in and basically cockblock. One time, I barred the door and Mother smacked into it. That made her very upset. She’d try to be sneaky about it but I knew she was frequently in my room, going through my things when I wasn’t there, telling me when she’d find something that “hurt her feelings” (we were all held responsible for her feelings) or sharing personal writings with Motherfucker. Most disrespectful!
And this was the warped model of reality my siblings and I inherited.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
In late 2000, while the Dotcom bubble was bursting, I was finally laid off from the poorly managed, hemorrhaging Dotcom I had worked at for the past two years. Brother, who was employed there briefly at the end, still had a key. That night we went back the office. I wanted the work that I had developed over the course of my employment there, burned onto CD Roms that I was prohibited from taking with me earlier that day. Brother set about to stealing drives and other hardware from the computers. Why? I asked him, urgent to leave after procuring my work. The property wasn’t his to take by any stretch of the imagination. “They owe us,” he replied.
The next day Brother was greeted his final day at work by police officers to whom he lied, successfully talking his way out of the theft that he was accused of (and committed). Turned out the drives were bad, which Brother chalked up to karmic justice.
A couple months later in December, I remained unemployed, the shitty Dotcom run into the dirt by it’s dubious founder, Michael Moodenbaugh, (who went on to screw even more people across the country) lied and said I quit to avoid paying out unemployment benefits. Dwindling savings had me concerned about making next months rent and bills. As a morale booster, Brother invited me out to a showing of The Nightmare Before Christmas playing at a little theater in downtown Tacoma. I accepted.
When Brother showed up, I was ready to go. But his girlfriend dropped him off. He’d assumed that we’d take my car so he could save on gas. I was ticked but he was there so whatever. Now he informs me that Sister’s coming along too, only we have to drive down to where she lives an hour to the south of us to pick her up. Fuck! Whatever! So I drive down and pick her up. On the way back to Tacoma, he informs me that I’m responsible for paying for my own ticket to the show that he invited me out to!
And that’s when I lose my cool and start tearing into him for being so fucking inconsiderate of my financial situation – you know, the shitty, broke one he offered to cheer me up about?! Brother goes quiet, sulky and looking at me like a wounded animal, like I’m being unfair to him somehow. He seriously does not fucking get it! And I don’t understand how he doesn’t. Sister, in the backseat, plays peacekeeper (as usual) and offers to pay for my ticket to get us to stop fighting.
So we watch the show and return to my apartment where Brother’s girlfriend comes and picks up him and Sister because she’s only getting back home if he’s driving her. I’m done. I don’t even have the time or money to be angry. All I know is that he’s hurting rather than helping my situation and that’s the last thing I need. I sleep through Christmas (because Mother is spending it far away with Motherfucker’s family – I never spend another holiday with Family) and I don’t hear from Brother for the next few months.
The Compulsive Giver
In that time, I fortunately manage to land a contract working at Microsoft. Incidentally, Brother shows up the last week of my contract after being hired to a position there on the Redmond main campus himself. He emails me a torrent of emotionally manipulative “woe is me” emails about how he’s “cried missing me” and just wants me and his girlfriend (who he cheated on his wife, my friend, with) to get along. Takes no responsibility for anything. And I would’ve written him off again if, at the time, I didn’t have a personal project with some programming needs that he was better skilled at.
So we meet, he brings some little gifts like he does in lieu of acknowledging any wrongdoing, and work out a deal. Code work for design work. He wanted some illustrations done for some personal project of his own. Fine. Done. Maybe I can maintain more of a professional working relationship with him instead. I could’ve have been more wrong.
Over the next few weeks, we go out to lunch a few times, alternating who pays, hanging out like we used to and going over our respective projects until one day (that just happened to be my birthday) Brother drops by my apartment, accuses me of paying out less money for lunches than him, that his girlfriend tells him that I’m exploiting him and demands I pay him the difference which he has conveniently tallied for me. I, for one, wasn’t keeping score and figured that it’d just even out in the end like when my friends I and go out and cover one another. Taken aback, I remind him what day it is. He leaves and returns a few minutes later with cake and ice cream for me. What… The… Fuck?!
After he left, I was so disgusted with his bizarre, entitled behavior that I no longer wished to see him again. It turned out he never intended to do any work for me so I didn’t fulfill my end of the bargain, our deal collapsed, he turned very nasty and I ultimately went no contact with him. In that time, he’d try to connect with me on social media, interest me with a business proposition and generally skulk about the periphery. Again, no acknowledgment of his actions (perhaps no awareness?), never asking what the problem was that inspired the gulf between us. He turned up once at my home (again bearing gifts, letting himself in the door) repeating almost verbatim the clearly rehearsed phrases he’d said prior to our reunion at Microsoft about a decade prior. Empty eyes looking like they were painted on a wax figure. Nothing to connect on.
Mother made a point of telling me how proud she was of Brother as a means to hurt me. I wonder if she’s ever told him as much?
Paying Tribute To Thine Birth Giver
Mother also felt entitled to money from me. My friend, Steve, had moved to another school district, incurring long distance charges for us to talk on the phone, charges I agreed to pay for. I also paid for my own car, gas, insurance, clothing, food, entertainment, etc. I think Mother came to expect me to perform the function of other men in her life as a human ATM, demanding I pay rent to stay in my room prior to my moving out after graduation. Upon which I went to college and also worked full time to pay for living expenses until I burned out and moved back home – well, back to a small, poorly heated camping trailer I was relegated to because “[Motherfucker] was afraid [I’d] come back”, that is – where Mother would stop by every other day or so not to ask how I was doing or anything (I was in a bad place then) but to demand money for her half of the student loans she agreed to basically because Motherfucker didn’t want me around. She would frequently tell me (and my siblings?) that she couldn’t afford to help them with college because of me.
Later, after I moved to work the aforementioned Dotcom and Microsoft jobs, I was sending her checks for her part of the loans. When I became unemployed and could no longer afford to send her checks, she still demanded the money and I still did my best to send it until I decided that I didn’t owe her money she’d spent less for my benefit than to make Motherfucker happy with my absence and told her that if she wanted me to continue covering the payments that I would only pay the loan holder directly which required that she send me the little coupon book of payment vouchers. She refused.
A few months later, there’s another Family blowout and Motherfucker reveals (amongst a tossed insult salad) that he’s butthurt for my failing to help him (since he married into Mother’s debt and made her a housewife) pay for my education, writing:
and i cant get beyond the fact that your “career”, in a floundering industry that you clung to even when you knew it was going to collapse, has pretty much ceased to exist. A career that I am still paying for [sic]
For all the money I sent Mother, I think she put as much towards paying down the loans as she did child support towards her children which is to say none at all. She told Motherfucker nothing and, once again, hung me out to dry. For every boundary I put up to protect myself, she tore me down that much more. Thanks to Mother smearing me and gaslighting everyone, I can’t even buy good will with Family!
Quid Pro Quo
A family that only understands the quid pro quo, that every so-called “gift” is actually a favor. Your worth, conditional. They have but to pull the little strings attached, reel you in, gut you for all you have to offer, throw your spent carcass away when they’re done bleeding it dry and spit on your remains for the unmitigated gall to have provided them so paltry. It’s never good enough and it’s always your fault.
Mother successfully ruined Family’s perception of me so badly that Brother (who’s essentially a carbon copy of her) seriously believed (and probably still does) the lie that I was given everything I had by and taking from Family and that I owed them (and him, by proxy) for in return. So twisted around that peacemaker Sister has been triangulated to the point where she call’s me selfish and entitled as though I’m such a shitty person that I don’t even deserve her kindness or basic respect. That it’s me who’s withholding from them. That it’s me who’s playing the victim even as they are blaming the victim for it! As though I’m the big bad wolf and I’m greedily gobbling them up, the meek little sheep, when, in reality, I’m the black sheep being hounded by a pack of starved wolves who are brainwashed into thinking that the reason they’re hungry is because I won’t let them devour me. Yeah, so selfish! Fucking insanity!
All because, in spite of being beaten down, I found in myself the nerve to stand up for myself. That couldn’t be tolerated. For that, I had to be destroyed.