I glance at my phone. New text message:
“Starting to wonder where you are.”
I log into e-mail, social networks. She’s contacted me there. The pleas are desperate, passive-aggressive, subtly scathing. She knows how to needle me better than anyone, having installed a lot of my neuroses herself.
It’s been 10 days since I’ve called her, and she’s losing it. It’s at this point that I would receive one of her classic midnight drop-ins, wipe my bleary eyes and see her standing outside my front door, carrying an offering, foisting it upon me as pretense. Now a 15-hour drive away (by car, 23 hours by bus), she can’t do this. And she hates it.
I, on the other hand, have had 10 fantastic days. A sense of calming is coming to me that I never thought possible. Things are going great. I sigh when I see the message, read it to Skyspook, remark, “I should probably call her.”
“Don’t call her if you don’t want to,” he replies. “You don’t have to.”
I don’t at first. But hours later, there’s a lull in activity, and she surfaces in my psyche, justifying it by telling myself that if she’s rude or offensive that I can hang up at any time. That I will hang up if she goes into attack mode. Ok. I can do this. I call her.
It’s a 20-minute conversation. We swap news, chat a bit. It all seems very innocuous. I find myself bristling a bit at her overall judgmental attitude as she divulges local gossip back home, but she’s civil even as she remarks that she finds herself worrying that I’m going to end up in a ditch somewhere, and no one will tell her. She doesn’t know my friends out here, not even the people I’m living with. Especially this guy – with my horrible taste in men, who knows what sort of person he is. I’m so naïve and trusting. She doesn’t even know his last name. I tell her Skyspook’s last name, again. It is the third time I have done this. I spell it for her, tell her she can find it any time she wants on my Facebook page. She darts around a number of topics, obviously neurotic, but never reaching what I deem abusive enough to hang up.
After I hang up, I feel a dull ache in my chest. I rejoin Skyspook in the living room, try to distract myself with cuddles and entertainment, but I feel sad underneath it all.
The feeling is still there a day later.
I hate doing this. She’s a cruel, duplicitous person who has contempt and jealousy for everybody outside of herself and the small circle with whom she identifies, mostly her family. She’s petty and competitive and juvenile. She’s bigoted against virtually everyone unlike her, minorities, non-straights, members of other religions (i.e., non-Catholics).
And she’s done some of the worst things to me that anyone ever has and refuses to admit it, swears she doesn’t remember those years, that they are cloaked in psychological repression.
Most people would have walked away a long time ago. I find I’m happiest when I pretend she doesn’t exist, when I forget she’s out there somewhere. But I don’t know how to stop being there for her, placating her, surrendering to her whims. I feel like I owe her. Because she’s the person who gave birth to me.