you and me

Happily Never After.

 

My mom is a hero, and a villain, but they come out at different times.

She was a single mom who raised two girls, and had no way of showing us true love, meaning we’d have to somehow learn for ourselves. She was over-protective, as any mother would be, but often didn’t know the right and wrong ways to express her love.

When I was only 11, I fell in love for the first time, and my mom supported the entirety of the four-year relationship. I admired her ability to loosen the reins enough to let her baby girl put her heart on the line.

Throughout junior and senior high, my sister and I were masters of all trades — the dynamic duo. My mom was the coach of every team we’d play for, and I often faced the jealous accusations that I only made the team because my mom was the coach, but I didn’t mind because it meant that I got to spend more time with her.

Our favorite sport was volleyball. With every practice, my mom built me into a lean, mean, serving machine. What I didn’t realize at the time was that she had turned me into exactly that — a machine. We were robots that she had designed to her liking, so she could live out her dreams through our athletic abilities, and be the star mom of the star sisters.

I remember one time when the opposing team’s coach approached me after the game and asked me where I learned to play like that, I told him it was the hard work of my momma. She was so proud of me. I only ever played for her, for her approval, for something that would somehow make me more like her.

I was hardly aware of who I was or where my life was going to go. The only sense of direction I had at the time was with Sam — my true love, or something like that. It was his graduation year, and he’d be leaving for university in the fall. The young, in puppy love, spell-bound, and completely foolish side of me thought this would be my opportunity for fairy tale endings.

I had plans for us to be in a long-distance relationship for two years, then I would graduate and move to the same university where we could live happily ever after. We had a magical convocation, danced the night away, and I even fell in love with the idea of seeing him in a suit again someday. He had me hooked.

Less than a month later, Sam and I had plans for our anniversary. It was a Tuesday — I’ve never liked Tuesdays. I curled my long, virgin brown hair just as he always liked, spent a little extra time on my makeup, and wore the perfume he’d gotten for me — I’ve got a crush on you from American Eagle. Seems ironic now that I think about it.

I waited impatiently by the front door as he pulled into the driveway. I could tell something was off when he didn’t come inside to greet me, or even open the door for me. He drove around, completely silent for what felt like hours. The breakup was quick, stern, and painful.

I played it off as if I were totally okay, and even said something like, “Maybe this would be our fork in the road, and somewhere down the line, we’d connect again.” Sometimes I still wonder what he would have done if he’d seen me fall apart as soon as he left. Four years together, and he left me to “experience university without limits.”

I not only suffered the loss of my love, but his family went with it. I was welcomed into his home as one of their own, and I’d thought it would stay like that forever.

Sam’s house was my escape — a place where nothing went wrong and everyone was loved. At least, that was how I saw it. His mom was my dream mom, and being with Sam allowed me to pretend like I had the perfect family. A mother and father who were still madly in love, a brother and a sister who loved me all the same, and of course, Sam. It was my fairy tale — everything I’d ever wanted.

As nothing lasts forever, the hero in my mom was among it. I remember her coming home from work that day and finding me in my room, eyes nearly swollen shut with sadness and heartbreak. I swear she was more devastated than I was; my mom always seemed to love Sam more than she loved me.

I managed to catch my breath long enough to reiterate what he said and leaned in for comfort from the woman I had seen as the strongest. When I was naïvely looking for the hero in her, I didn’t expect to be burned by the villain. I got nothing but a quick pat on the head and shrug of her shoulders.

The villain within clearly shone in how she handled her daughter’s heartbreak. I remember it vividly, as she said so bluntly, “Well, kiddo, you were never really good enough for him anyway. So quit your crying, because it was your loss.”

Yup. My mother, the hero and the villain. Audacious enough to tell her 15-year-old daughter that she wasn’t good enough for the boy who broke her heart. After that, I made sure that the men I brought home to her were portrayed as much less than what they were. I made sure she knew that I was the better half.

I was consumed by the need for approval of my mother, and her inner villain somehow found a way to kick me when I was already so far down.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to get back up from that; it’s not exactly something you can forgive and forget. She’ll never know the pain that I went through, and I hope she never does. I’m still coping with it — slowly accepting one sacrifice from her at a time.

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but what happens when yours is poisonous?

***

Kassidy King is a Canadian English/Education student who writes to connect with her readers through a “me too” effect. She wishes to travel after graduation and continue writing personal entries. Kassidy’s shy, introverted personality has allowed her to observe the challenges of the world and attempt to put them into words.

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