I have a lot of love in my heart, and I give it openly and willingly, maybe too willingly. I think it's because I wasn't shown very much love growing up. So, I have an unquenchable thirst to give and receive as much love and happiness as possible. I have always worn my heart on my sleeve and just didn't have the good sense to roll my sleeves up. I have been told many times that I'm in denial about the effects of my mother's abuse on me. That's not true.
It would have been quite easy for me to be negative and bitter because of how I was treated at home, but I refused to do that. She was trying to break me, to make me the pitiful sad person, she wanted me to be. I fought her attempts to transform me at every turn.
My mother's abuse started early in my life. One night I had a cough when I was five or six, and I couldn't go to sleep. Mother yelled from her bedroom to "stop faking that cough and go to sleep." She never considered for even a second that I might really have a cold, or heaven forbid the flu. I tried to suppress the cough as best I could. But I couldn't stop as hard as I tried. The next time I coughed. I heard her go into the bathroom and open the medicine cabinet. The cough syrup she used tasted atrocious. I was sure it was just for punishment and nothing more. I was hoping she didn't bring it with her.
She wore flip-flops, and you could hear her flopping down the hall. The faster she walked, the madder she was. By the way, she was walking; I could tell she was really pissed. She came into my bedroom with a jar of Vicks Vapor Rub in her hand. I took a big sigh of relief because she didn't bring the God-awful cough syrup. However, the relief was short-lived. Instead of rubbing it on my chest, she dipped her fingers in the jar, got a big chunk of it on her fingers. Then, she jerked my head back with a fist full of the hair on the back of my head and shoved it in my mouth. She spread it in a circular motion on my cheeks, tongue, and even the top of my mouth.
I looked up at her in disbelief. Her face was so intense and filled with the same rage and anger that she shared with everyone. Her jaw was clamped shut so tightly you could see her jaw muscles bulging, and her nostrils were flaring with each breath, like a charging bull. She was almost hyperventilating. How did I make her so mad just by simply coughing? With her fingers still in my mouth, tears started to roll down my face as I tried not to gag. That worked about as well as trying not to cough. I thought I was going to heave, so I darted to the bathroom. She started laughing at me. I couldn't even drink water for relief. It just beaded up on the inside of my mouth. I came back to bed still gagging. She left the room as fast as she came in. Over her shoulder and the noise of her flip-flops popping, she asked, "Is that the kind of attention you wanted? NOW, stop coughing and go to sleep." To this day, the smell of anything menthol makes me gag. The gift that keeps on giving.
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