emma peel

emma peel
La dolce vita, Canada
December 10
Citizen of the world
Inside my head
A writer is an egomaniac with low self-esteem. Disclaimer Please be advised that what you read here does not represent anyone at OS, or anyone else in the known blogosphere, or world outside the Internet unless specifically stated. I've spent most of my life as a journalist, arts and film critic, editor, educator and writing coach. I've been lucky enough to travel extensively and to meet many fascinating famous and ordinary people. I live in a beautiful part of the world that sustains my soul. I am blessed to have an understanding husband and loyal friends. I have a sharp edge, but underneath I am an idealist and a romantic. My heart breaks at all the stupidity, injustice and cruelty in the world. I will never stop fighting against it.


Emma peel's Links

DECEMBER 14, 2008 10:42PM

Dear Mother,

Rate: 32 Flag

Dear Mother,

I thought I had shed my last tear. Tears of rage, regret, guilt and sadness have been pouring out of me for a year. Yet it seems I still have more to cry. After I visited you in the care home yesterday, I drove home and wept some more.

It’s been a long, long year. In fact, it’s been 11 of them. Ever since the day I dropped by your condo to say hi and found him there, it’s been a reckless slide into near-madness. Even after you eloped with this man, knowing him all of six weeks, even after countless needless dramas and outrages, even after all of that time, I still struggle with why you brought this hateful, narcissistic and cruel man into our small family to wreak such havoc. Mother, he wasn’t even kind or loving toward you.

I want to move on from the poison he spread into all of our lives when we had finally found one another again and were living in the same city. I want this to be about you, and my feelings about what has happened to you, and to me, and to the rest of our family this year. I want this, but it is a battle of what is left of my will to not to give into ranting and raving against him, and even you.

Almost a year ago today something small happened that made me realize that try as I might, I could no longer deny that something was seriously wrong with you. It wasn’t just your gout, or your constant dry cough, your lack of short-term memory or even your insistence that you “never noticed” your husband doing any of the spiteful things that I’d been telling you about for the past 10 years. It was you. You weren’t there. A light had gone out in your eyes and although you looked the same, you were a stranger. Something had changed about your face, a kind of blankness and smoothness that I did not recognize.

This realization came to me all at once while doing something so mundane that I was on automatic pilot. I had mentioned to you in the car that it was my birthday, and that my brother, your son, had died on that day two years earlier. Your sensitive, gifted, schizophrenic son whom your husband had tormented so viciously while he was alive. You remembered who he was and we talked about him briefly, but then it occurred to me: you hadn’t mentioned him without my prompting you in more than two years. It was as though he’d never existed. Two minutes later, I asked you again about him and you did not know whom I was talking about. Your only son was not even a memory to you.

Somehow we made it through that Christmas. Then the phone rang on January 1st. It was you telling me that your husband had gone into the hospital and could I come over and take you to visit him? That was the beginning of a horrible journey into the detritus of your life, and into a black hole of dysfunction and despair.  

I won’t go into all of the awful details of your violation at the hands of your oh-so-loving husband and his two daughters, but suffice it to say that you, you who had worked so hard your whole life, who had risen from being a farm girl with a Grade 8 education to being a successful businesswoman, were flat broke. Worse than broke, you were in debt. Worse than debt, you were oblivious to it all and insisting that nothing had changed. Worst of all, you would not accept the fact that this had happened because of your husband’s venal actions.

It was left to me, your eldest daughter, to clean up the mess. To fight with three levels of government to get you a modicum of care, to wrangle with the creditors, the banks and his relatives, who still wanted more. Somehow I did it all. I lost 15 pounds, my life as I knew it, and very nearly my sanity from the stress of it all. I fought hard to keep you apart from your husband, whom you waited on hand and foot despite your own failing health, and in the end, I lost. The state decreed that even though you were not competent to handle your financial or legal affairs, you were competent to choose to be with him.

You are together again, bonded in your dementia and loathsome relationship, acting out your paranoid fantasies and his grandiose schemes toward others. The constant phone calls demanding that I bring you money and keys and chequebooks have started up again since you’ve been together. No one knows more than me how hard it is to lose your home and identity, but I also know that his constant need for drama and attention is a trigger for your aggressive and destructive behavior. I also know now that you have been mentally ill for a long time. In fact, part of me knew it as a child and that repressed knowledge led me to get away as fast and as far as I could, as soon as I could, under the guise of being a freedom-loving hippie. The French call relationships and marriages like yours a folie a deux, and as usual, they are right.

Eight months ago when I was at my lowest ebb, barely able to function because of the rage and sadness and responsibility that had overwhelmed my life, the director at your first care home took my hand and said to me, “Don’t think about all the rest of it. Just love your mother, just love your mother. That’s all you need to do.” Her words are haunting me tonight. I know she is right, that it is all I can do, and all I want to do. Why then, is it so hard?

Do I lack moral fortitude? Common sense? Self-preservation? Or is it the relentless Greek chorus of regret in my brain that chants: my mother was lost to me for the past 11 years, indeed, most of my life, and that now, she is lost to me forever? Is that what is holding me back from the simple act of love she and I both desperately need? I may have just answered my own question, but it still feels hollow and contrived.  

Because I don’t know what else to do, I raise a glass of champagne to you, mother, and toast through my tears in belated honour of my birthday and my brother’s memory, and to you. And I pray that it is not too late for love.

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John Stead would be pleased
Oh, I want to hug you. I want to tell you that it will be alright. But mostly I want to tell you that what it really sounds like right now is that you need to just let things go, like the Administrator told you, and just love what is left of your mother. If you're angry with her, will she understand that, or is that an issue best discussed with a netural observer, perhaps a therapist? They're a great option. If she's in long-term-care, she'll probably be gone soon enough -- too soon you'll think then -- so when you're there with her, make it about her, not you. But make it all about you on the outside of that facility. Screen your calls. I'm sorry about your brother and your birthday. But you know, if he hadn't passed on your birthday, he'd probably celebrate it with you. He probably still wouldd. Hugs, hugs, hugs.
Thank you, Chicago Guy.

Catamitebastard: Everything you say is true. I've been "therapized" to death and really, I am through the worst part. I've just had a rough weekend. On my best days I let go. On my worst, well, you read my story!
It must take a lot of strength to continue through all this, especially being as aware of all of it as you are. Keep it going as best you can and let the Big Guy take care of the rest.
Sometimes the parents we have are real different from the parents we want. Your pain/hurt/anger is palpable through your writing. No advice here, but I do understand. Thanks for sharing this.
Do you feel better now? I hope you do. Not saying what we desperately need to say is the most poisonous, caustic, soul searing bile our minds produce.
You are better for what you've seen, written and done. Regret none of it...regrets are excuses for failure and life is really not about success or failure.
Forgive your mom. What demons lurk in loved ones souls can never fully be discovered.

I have a bi-polar mother who ignored, never saw or as she puts it when confronted "had no idea" about my father's physical and sexual abuse of myself and several of my cousins.

Be well.

Always helps me to think: "There but for the grace of god go I"...and I'm an atheist!
By the way, I had an enormous crush on Emma Peel when I was 14......those black vinyl cat-suits arrrrrrrrrrgh
I had a bit of a crush on Emma myself (still do). And why did leather catsuits ever go out of style? lol
probably because most people would look like me in one of those and not her!
A powerful story, magnificently written. Life is often hell; your words are heavenly. Rated, friended. Want to read more.
Emma, this is beautifully written. I'm so glad you posted.
No one deserves a nightmare like this. I hope you somehow find the strength to get through it all and finally have some peace. You deserve that much.
Emma peel, my mother went through everything you are going through, except my grand mother was not married to the man. He was just a relative who helped my granny manage our estate.
My granny ended up pawning our family home to meet the debts and my father had to pay off the major portion of it.
My mother had my father throughout the crisis and still there were times when she used to go into depression, I sincerely hope you are not alone. If you are, may God hold your hand and lead you to light.
A big cyber hug to you.
I don't know what to say, either, and my mother could be a nightmare (God rest her soul.) We don't always get what we deserve in life, that's for sure.
Life is so damned complicated sometimes. Still, we get to pick our friends and not our relatives, so we're stuck with what we've got for better or worse.
Sounds like you've had a rough go of it - but, the only thing you can control is how you feel about it, what you'll do about it. I think Don Henley said it best:

"I've been tryin' to get down
To the heart of the matter
Because the flesh will get weak
And the ashes will scatter
So I'm thinkin' about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me."

Excellent post. I hope that things work out for the best for you. Oh, and I too had a huge crush on Emma Peel so it's nice to see her make a come-back of sorts here as you.
Rated/thumbed. Looking forward to more posts, and is it some coincidence your chosen initials are EP*? ;-D

*EP - OSpeak for Editor's Pick, which this post should have gotten.
Beautiful piece. Thank you for having the courage to share so intimate a story.
And I agree with Bill S. THIS should be on the front page.
I am completely floored by all the kind words about my writing and also by the emotional support. I know many people carry burdens heavier than mine, but there is something about childhood burdens that cripple the soul. Writing and publishing that piece was cathartic. Although nothing has changed regarding the external situation, I am working on the act of forgiveness and I feel lighter already.

Letting go and just accepting what is now is essential. My mother is doing better physically, if not mentally, and could be around for some time. Accepting her as she is can't come soon enough for my sake and hers.
This struck so many chords with me I just wanted to tell you to get out of my head. Someone mentioned how much courage it took for you to open up the way you did, and I only wish I was as brave. Most importantly, to me anyway, you took a poisonous situation, and distilled it into something manageable by writing beautifully about it. I'll second another post, "I just want to hug you!"
I am so sorry about your mother. I can't give any good advice. I have been told that you have to take care of you first. I have been told to dwell in whatever good memories you have. I don't know if those help.
You are strong and brave and will get through this.
I want to hug you , too,for all the wrong reasons...
Sad tale but all too prevalent.

I stood by as my wife went through this with her mother. Fortunately, my mother-in-law's ex had died so there was never that complication. I kept trying to convince my wife that she should avoid asking her mother that age old question "Mama, do you know who I am?" The poor old lady was in the middle stages of dementia or Alzhiemers (sp?) - who knows - and she was always happy to see us but at times you knew she didn't know exactly who we were but was still happy to have someone come visit her. My wife never caught on to this although she did make the supreme effort to avoid asking that question.

For some years I have been telling my children that someday they may come to visit me and find that I'm not home - in the mind that is. After all, this body I live in is my home and occasionally I may decide to go someplace else for awhile and I'm NOT there. When that happens, PLEASE, just put my home someplace where they take reasonable care of it and don't worry about it. It's not necessary to visit my old home anymore because I'm someplace else doing what I want to do. You may catch me at home occasionally but more often than not the house will be empty.

So far, they haven't responded too well but then I raised girls that are loving and kind and emotional and I don't suppose that they ever will. I hope that you may come to terms with a situation that is becoming all the more common today.
Oh. My. Gosh. I think I have something awful in common with you. Is this man a true narcissist? Did he work to remove your mother from her family? Does he constantly spin tales of how no-good all of you are to keep her in his control? If any of this sounds familiar, would you please message me? I apologize for being so forward, it's just that I've been going through something eerily similar and would love to talk to someone who understands. It's torn our family apart. Most people think you're overreacting or not giving the new spouse a chance. They don't realize that it's psychological control of another person.

Awful subject but terrific writing.
I know that in times of stress in my life I have turned to my pen for solace. It is like a conversation with myself, and in that conversation I can be as honest, as brutal, as kind, as selfish, or as critical, or as introspective, and a whole lot of other things as my mood or the situation may warrant. You write beautifully about your pain and your feelings of hate and love in this piece. Keep on writing; the pen -- or keyboard -- can be a great friend and outlet.
Know it well..My own mother hadn't a clue to who I was that last time I saw her...She's gone now but that moment lingers on.

Thanks for sharing.
writinggirl: I have only recently started to write "out" my feelings and it has been a rewarding experience. Of course, years of thinking about this stuff helps! Thanks for your encouragement and kind words.

1bindo: It is an awful club that no one wants to belong to, but we have soldier on nonetheless.
Loving is so hard sometimes. But if you let go, then you get yourself back. What amazing writing, by the way. I write these kinds of letters in my head to my parents 100 times a day and never send them.
Letting go... two words. Just two words. How can two words demand so much emotional capacity to perform?

This is a beautiful, moving, very well written piece.

I'm glad I found it.

Take care today.

And yes. I saw your other post. I joined a few weeks ago and keep wavering as to stay or not. I hear you.
Thank you wakingupslowly. Letting go is probably the hardest thing any of us can ever do.
Re-read via Rob St. Amant's post. I saw it earlier but didn't realize it was your first one. Really powerful.
Thanks, jimmymac. I had no idea that I was going to write it when I sat down. Ir just poured out of me.
This was your first post? I remember reading it when I followed the link to your name when you left the very first comment I ever received, on my second post. It was so raw and heartbreaking that I didn't know how to respond, so in cowardly newbie fashion I rated it and left without a footprint

I salute you
Your writing is stellar but I am sorry you are so sad. You are the best part of your mother and what she has to be proud of. That is something.
Wow. I didn't realize this was your first post either until I got to the end of the comments. I just noticed in the activity feed that you had commented on it, so I followed.

And then I was all: Oh my God, how could I have not read this today. What kind of a self-absorbed jerk am I? After going through all this, there was Emma getting up early to comment on my stupid Super Bowl post. And I didn't even NOTICE she had written this? What an incredible person she is.

I still think you're an incredible person. But now I understand how people caught on to that so quickly.

So are we ever going to get an update? Or are things still this challenging?
roy: Don't worry. I've done the same thing. Sometimes that's all you can do at the moment. Thanks for reading it.

Dorinda: My sadness comes and goes. I realize that my mother was also a victim of her circumstances and that I can't spend my life blaming her. Some days are just better than others in that regard. And thank you for commenting. I need to get down to writing some more "serious" stuff.
I am so sorry. It's frustrating to deal with mental illness, in yourself and in others. Personally, it's makes me feel helpless and angry at the lack of being able to make things alright. I suppose any disease process is like that, but people get more external support if their loved ones are dying or suffering from anything below the neck. If they are ceaselessly self destructive or personality disordered it's hard to have that much continual energy, even if you really care about them. I hope you are getting lots of love and help from people close by.