A Performance Monologue

July 2017

A middle aged woman looks for and sits down on a grave, brushing the grass off the name plate.

Hi, Mom.

Happy birthday.

It’s been 42 years.

I saw these lilacs and remembered how much you loved them, and how hard they were to grow in a desert climate. Dad managed to keep that one bush alive for you. Anyway—saw these and thought you’d like some.

How many times have I been here in 42 years? Ten? Twelve?

I don’t know why I’m here today. Not really.

Or maybe I do.

I thought I was beyond anger and blame. I thought a lot of things.

I mean, I get it. I get that you were in pain. I get the horrible upbringing. The poverty. The physical and sexual abuse. Being ripped out of school to work to support the family. The bad marriage. The marriage that wasn’t bad, but didn’t work. The divorces. The Catholic guilt. The fear of death. The fear of hell.

I get it.

But how do you think I felt when you would cry and cry and cry and push me away when I tried to help? I just wanted to help. I was six, Mom. What do you think it felt like when you pushed me away?

You called me a “Daddy’s girl.” Well, I was a “Daddy’s girl.”

He played with me. He spent time with me, when he was home. He encouraged me. That’s why we were so close. He told me he loved me. I had to hear from other people how much you loved me, because you never said it.

Or maybe you did.  Maybe I needed  to believe you didn’t to hold onto my anger. I don’t know.

You abandoned me, Mom. You abandoned Dad, too.

God, Mom.  You copped out.

Okay—you tried. I know it wasn’t easy for you—the decision to see Dr. Samler. I know how hard that was. I know how much the whole idea of mental illness scared you, how embarrassed you were by your own needs. I’m sorry the best they could do for you was valium. No wonder you drank. The wonder is that you functioned at all.

Sort of.

I’d try to hug you, and you’d push me away.

And then one day, as I sat at the kitchen table doing my homework, you came up behind me and hugged me.

And I pushed you away.

I saw the hurt on your face, and I was glad.

And I hated myself.

I still do.

I’d give a lot to hug you now, Mom.

I hope you like the lilacs.


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Your words could have come from my pen. You inner conflicts...mine, too. Thank you for making them real and concrete for me too.
-- Maria Karras, 2/4/19