Sonic Snapshot: “Carry me, mother…”

“On nights like tonight
When no one’s around
I put on the record
The record I found…”

For an insomniac, night time is a lonely time, one filled with endless moments of reflection and remembrance.  It’s a special form of self-torture, and I excel at it.  Lately, in light of all of the changes in my life, and the anniversary looming of the day I finally cut my losses, I find myself thinking of my childhood and my mother.

My mother, in every sense, failed me.  Verbally and emotionally abusive, with a love laden with conditions, she tore me apart until my self-esteem was in tatters, and then blamed me for the mess she’d made.  But, like the chimps in the infamous psychological study that desperately clung to wire ‘mothers’ that electrocuted them at random, I held on, in hopes of that odd moment of loving grace that would visit upon me now and again.

I moved out at eighteen, knowing that it was either I leave her homestead or I end up at the bad end of a noose.  It was survival, and I thankfully chose not to allow her to win at her little game of Destroy The Child Of The Man I Hate.  But still, I tried.  I kept my distance, a wary dog fearing another beating, but I still lingered, hoping for change.  What a foolish optimist I was!  Not much ever changed, and I finally found enough self-respect to draw a line and say, Enough.  The breaking point was her attempt to ban me from my grandfather’s wake.

No one would ever argue that she is the epitome of class.

On nights like tonight, where I have allowed my thoughts to stray backward, to cast their lines out in search of kernels of useful knowledge and insight, this is always a danger.  Her landmines remain lodged in my grey matter, and suddenly, one seemingly innocuous conversation becomes a ticking time bomb.  It explodes, shredding my carefully constructed house of cards, a Big Bad Wolf dropping me back to the floor.

And it is then I turn to music, to its language that has always spoken to me, saved my life over and over, and I allow it to purge her, to purge the aftertaste of knowing that your mother doesn’t love you, and never has; she merely wants you as a possession, a trophy.  “It’s all the same monster that everyone faces,” only this monster is the cruelest kind, the wool dropping from her sheep’s clothing disguises.  I close my eyes, and wonder why my life has been what it has been, and where I’m supposed to go next.  I wonder if I’m really at the helm, or if someone’s pulling my proverbial strings for sadistic fun.  I wonder if my life’s to be cut dramatically short.

“On nights like tonight
When no one’s around
I sit in the dark
On my hands on the ground
And I smile like the devil smiles
Unseen but proud
Truth be told
I don’t know
Who’s at the helm…”

And then, I find my way back to the man I love.  I think of his smile, and remember that his mother has become mine, so full of honest love and care.  “And all is forgiven,” except her sins.  She is understood, her years of abuse and misfortunes worthy of a modocum of pity and sympathy.  But she who will not apologize will never be forgiven, and my mother is never wrong in her eyes.

This, but one of my many burdens, sometimes weighs me down, sometimes delays me, sometimes leaves me faithless, but always remember, loved ones, that I try.  “I’ll make my way to you.”

On Nights Like Tonight – Matthew Good

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